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Book Binding :: Inspiring Creativity

by Folksy Support

Written by Amy OrangeJuice

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! do you want to hear a secret? Then come with me and enter a world of beautiful first impressions and highly skilled craftsmanship.


There are only 2 dedicated book binding shops on Folksy and a couple of others who make books amongst other crafts, so they are elusive makers! But I have tracked one down and this week Margaret from MarcadeArtsPress takes us through the best kept secret on Folksy, bookbinding.

So Margaret, how do you make your books and what do you need to get started?

“Sometimes I make my books with a ‘hands on’ approach starting with materials and playing about with them…something simple like folding pretty coloured paper can give me ideas. At other times I think up a design and then try to realise it. I don’t like making exactly the same book twice but I often work on a theme, making different variations.

I like to have materials about the place: plenty of paper in different colours, textures and weights, different sorts of thread, cord and string, varying types of leather, general craft stuff like glue, glitter, buttons, brads and paint, the list goes on…

As bookbinding can be pursued at any skill level, it is ideal for anyone with general crafting skills. If you can cut, fold and sew, then you can make a book! It just requires time, care, some information on binding styles and your imagination. Then the sky’s the limit!”

Brilliant, so where does your inspiration come from?

“I find much of my inspiration in the area of Book Arts. This is a strange genre where a functional object (the book) becomes an art object in itself and the form transcends the function.

Much of my life I have been immersed in the world of art and books, as a writer, a teacher and a librarian. Now, I just love making books.

One person who has greatly inspired me, is Book Artist and Conservator, Hedi Kyle. I can thank her for my obsession with the ‘Blizzard’ book”

Oh, I can feel an amyorangejuice Book of Hours coming on, what are the highs and lows of book binding?


“It’s incredibly rewarding when I work on a new book and see it through to the finish. Sometimes I love it so much I don’t want to part with it – which can be a bit tricky if it’s a commission.

I can’t say that there is one thing in particular that is most challenging. However, I did find a recent project quite testing. This was a collaborative bookbinding project where I worked with various international bookbinders. We all worked on images inspired by a poem, then sent the pages across the world so everyone could create a book.

I found it quite difficult to combine the images in one book, as the styles were so very different. However, I was pleased with the final result.”

Where did you learn your craft?

“I first took a residential course on bookbinding with Maureen Duke in 2004. It took a while for me to get going as I wasn’t quite sure how to pursue this interest. I realised I did not have the time nor inclination to pursue what we think of as traditional bookbinding. However, I have found my niche and I am continually improving my knowledge and skills. I love researching into the subject and discovering different styles of binding and making up my own permutations. I particularly like pre-Victorian bindings partly because they are more in the grasp of the ordinary crafts person.”

You do make it sound very tempting, where can you have a go?

“For anyone who wants to have a go at bookbinding, I would recommend doing some research before committing to an expensive course. There is a great deal of free information on the internet, so I’d start there. If you want some reasonably quick results, you could try a tutorial. There are several available in my Folksy shop, Marcade Arts Press.

book binding uk

If you live in Dorset or Hampshire, I am running a bookbinding course at Artsway in the New Forest from 10.30 to 3.30 on September 6th. Cost £35, including materials.

Otherwise, go to the library and borrow a book or two. Once you get going you won’t want to stop!”

Some other online resources:


Thank you very much Margaret for a window into your beautiful craft, lets hope you have inspired some more people to have a go!

Visit MarcadeArtsPress shop to see more of Margaret’s work and buy her range of DIY kits or visit her supply shop MarcadeSupplies for more basic bookbinding materials.

More about the author of this article!

Amy McCarthy is a glass artist and recycled mixed media artist working from a small studio in Devon. Amy’s Folksy shop sells beautiful traditionally made leaded gift panels, funky mobiles and suncatchers. Her work often includes recycled glass, found objects and acid etching. There is more than a whiff of the seaside to her work and much is inspired by the Devon coast and moors around where she lives. Amy makes bespoke windows for commission and is exhibits her recycled sculptures and mixed media art across the South West. You can find out more about her on her website, facebook or her blog.

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Gelert Design August 31, 2010 - 1:32 pm

That was interesting – though I’m still none the wiser:)

amyorangejuice August 31, 2010 - 2:11 pm

ah well you will have to go and go make one! x

Konnie Kapow September 3, 2010 - 2:52 pm

very interesting and fabuously written as ever Amy!

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