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Diving in

OCA tutor Roger Grech reports on being thrown in at the deep end,  starting his OCA career with a study visit at a bindery.
‘I needn’t have worried, however, as the warm welcome and hospitality at Conway’s of Halifax far out weighed any possible nervous bumbling from me.  On arrival to one of the last remaining Craft Binderies in the north of England we were met by its owner Stephen Conway, President of the Designer Bookbinders, a society devoted to the craft of Bookbinding. After introductions and a warming coffee Stephen gave a tour of the bindery followed by a viewing of some of the projects he is currently working on as well as some recently completed. These included The Highgrove Florilegium, a huge volume commissioned by the Prince’s Trust documenting the flora and fauna of the Highgrove estate. Once all questions were answered including queries about whether its possible to make a living doing this (yes you can), we had lunch and then returned to the bindery for a little practical workshop.
The students really seemed to enjoy this part of the visit. They got to grips with simple binding techniques and tools and gained knowledge of basic, but important, binding terminology.  I think everyone secretly enjoyed using the power guillotine more than making the notebook.’
OCA student Pam Wright commented: ‘The botanical prints in the oversize flower book where beautiful and the books themselves (in production and stacked up in the workshop) were being slowly and luxuriously put together – this was a really good antidote to kindles.’  and Katrina Whitehead added:
‘After lunch we were able to experience the art of bookbinding ourselves which was enormous fun and extremely well explained by the tutor Roger who is obviously extremely experienced in the art of bookbinding and we were all able to take home the fruits of our labour, not to mention lots to reflect on in our learning logs.’

Finally Penny Rowe said ‘I really enjoyed the study day on Saturday. I have been of quite a few study visits and this one was the most useful one I’ve been on. I enjoyed it more than walking round a gallery. I came away feeling like I could really use the information I had gained to take my work further.’
Its a shame not more people booked onto this visit, it was a small group.  I wonder whether that was because of the location (Halifax), or whether the nature of the subject didn’t appeal so much?  I’d be interested to know why.

Posted by author: Jane Parry
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7 thoughts on “Diving in

  • I would have loved a visit to another bindery but Halifax is a long way from Woking. However, we do have a local Bindery, Otter Bookbinding, http://www.otterbookbinding.com/about-us/ owned by Marysa De Veer. The original bindery is on the site of Fairoaks Airport in Ottershaw but Marysa has also opened another one in Midhurst, West Sussex. I did a workshop in Ottershaw last year and was very proud to have created my own book (pages still blank) but it has my name in gold on the spine! It’s just wonderful to walk into a Bookbinders and see all those wonderful tools and smell the leather and cloth.
    It just occurred to me that some other OCA students who live fairly near might be interested in visiting there is we can organise something. Let me know anyway.

  • I got the opportunity to do a full day book binding course and thoroughly enjoyed it, maybe the OCA could arrange something similar in another location (maybe where Catherine suggested).
    I would have loved to attend this study visit but unfortunately I was unable to make it. Hopefully there will be another visit.

  • This one would’ve been really interesting – not sure if I missed the announcement or whether I had to miss out because I was in France earlier this month. Either way, I feel a little gutted…

  • It looked like a great day! Unfortunately, I was on holiday that day, but the location was also difficult for me. I would have loved to come though. A similar trip to Woking definitely appeals Catherine. There is a group that runs courses near me, but the cost is a bit of a challenge, especially this close to the festive season.

  • Hi, I’m Marysa of Otter Bookbinding. Our bindery is in Midhurst, West Sussex. We’ve got some great courses coming up especially ‘the onion skin binidng’ in October. If there are a group of you, I’d be happy to organise a special day just of you. I can fit about 7 people in and we have a further wood working workshop that we can use benches and fit another 5 if there’s a demand. Have a look here http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/otter-bookbinding-6637393785 I’ll be updating every few weeks and there’s a course every month.

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