Two Under Two…

So it would seem that having two children under two means there is not much time for anything else! In fact, finding enough time to brush my teeth has even been a challenge at times let alone getting any binding work done. 

Daughter number two, Winifred May (Winnie), was born in mid-November and the last seven weeks have shot by in a blur. Ivy has willingly jumped into the role of big sister however does need to be reminded on regular occasions that her sister probably doesn’t like having toys shoved into her mouth and ears. As much as we have tried it also seems to be impossible to get a decent picture of them together…(!)


On the run up to the birth, and the precious few quiet moments I have had since Winnie was born, I have been trying to keep on top of my work as best possible – actually a welcome release in amongst the chaos of parenthood! 


I currently have two bindings in progress, plus a hundred and one thoughts for new projects whirring around in my head (I have had plenty of thinking time whilst sat feeding Winnie!). The first of which is one I touched upon in a previous blog post, “British Birds”. I am at the embroidery stage of that one, having started with the outline work of the background first. I can’t wait to get started on the actual birds – I am saving that until last though as a sort of “treat”! 


The second is a binding of “The Noble Knight Paris & the Fair Vienne” by The Allen Press. The text is translated from French by William Caxton and is one of 130 copies printed on Val de Laga French paper. The text block is really lovely with little hand-coloured wood-engraved decorations on each of the pages.


The endpapers were inspired by these wood-engraved decorations and I decided to do some lino-cuts of the floral/leafy shapes that appear on the vines to the left of each page of the book. These were much larger than the prints on the pages but I thought it would be an effective way of tying in the endpapers with the text block.


I did many tests with each of the stamps until I was happy with the design and in the end chose to go for a repeat-print using a floral stamp. These papers will be further embellished with some colour and gold when the doublures are worked on. 


The text is love story between Paris the Knight and the maiden Vienne. I was struck by the idea of Paris jousting against his rivals for the admiration of Vienne. I thought that this would create a strong design and would mirror well across the cover with Paris appearing on the front cover and his rival on the back – their jousting poles I crossing the spine.


In the text it says that, “Alle other knightes there were knowen by their armes, but the two white knights were unknowen…Said Vienne, yonder two white knightes that bear no armes on their sheldes are more to my fantasie”.

Paris is therefore depicted with a plain shield and in the story goes on to win a crystal shield and a gold garland of flowers, presented to him by Vienne. On the cover design she is seen standing on the spine section – the image taken from the wood block print in the text block. I drew her standing in the doorway to her castle, the castle being a much larger version of a wood block print that also features in the text block. 


The sample board has been embroidered and the book sewn and forwarded. I am now working on the book onlays and the next stage will be the embroidery of the covering leather.


I am also participating in COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery at the start of February with Designer Bookbinders. COLLECT is the leading international art fair for contemporary objects presented by the Crafts Council. The show offers an unrivalled opportunity to see and buy exceptional contemporary craft by artists and makers represented by leading British and international galleries. Designer Bookbinders is of course not a gallery, but we have been given special dispensation by the Crafts Council to showcase bookbinding at this prestigious event. Subject to my binding getting through the selection panel it will be very exciting to be part of this.

“Collect will fill all three floors of the Saatchi Gallery from 2-6 February 2017, returning for
its 13th edition with a fresh vision and revitalised look and feel. Collect profiles the
exceptional skill and intellectual rigour behind modern craft
from works in ceramics,
glass, metal, wood and textiles to makers working in non-traditional materials with
experimental techniques. At a time of unprecedented interest in craft, Collect connects the
passion of collecting and the energy of making with a heightened awareness of design.

Works will be exhibited in a contemporary gallery setting during the five-day event, with a
programme that includes a series of talks featuring leading craft thinkers, an exclusive
preview of the latest acquisitions to the Crafts Council Collection ahead of a national tour,
and an expanded Collect Open
a dedicated showcase for concept-driven experimental

I am submitting a binding I did last year for inclusion, ‘Butterflies and Moths (British)’ – it is great I still have this one as I would definitely not have had time to make anything new! This binding was also featured in a blog post last year.


On a closing note I got a new tripod for Christmas that I am very excited to try out – I just need to finish a binding now in order to test it out properly! After struggling through for a couple of years with a ropy second-hand one it finally gave up the ghost at the end of last year. I have been photographing my bindings myself since I moved over to France, beforehand a friend was doing them for me. I had to learn the ropes myself so I could be self-sufficient whilst I was away and have kept up with this following my return to the UK. I have a method I try to stick to with the set-up and the photographs seem to do the job!

Hopefully in my next blog post I will be able to showcase some photos of bindings taken on my new tripod! In the meantime I better return to my other full-time job of being a mum…

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