Bookbinding Conference!

Though it was rather overshadowed by subsequent events (scan, tenth anniversary), I did actually go to the Society of Bookbinders biennial Training and Education Conference.

I was deeply intimidated by the entire thing. I’d never met a bookbinder before, ever. And the bookbinding world is still deeply rooted in the traditions of apprenticeship and mastery. Self-taught amateurs are like orphans among the hereditary nobility. Add to that that I’m crushingly shy about talking to strangers…

Of course, my fears were entirely groundless. Like any group of enthusiasts, the bookbinders were keen to talk to a fellow addict. I fell in with the Scottish contingent almost unintentionally, when I struck up a conversation with a woman from Aberdeen while touring the Reading University library bindery. Soon we had an accustomed place at the refectory tables for meals, and were chatting at tea breaks.

It was the first time I’ve ever had to listen to people talk about binding, watch demonstrations of bindings, and get a good in-person look at a few (very) fine bindngs. I even managed to buttonhole Mark Ramsden for some feedback on my green book. I’m still reeling a bit, digesting it all.

A few preliminary conclusions:

  • I’m not so hot on forwarding (book construction) as I thought. This is actually a good thing, because it means I need more practice, which means I have an excuse to bind more books. Previously, I was more conscious of my need to practice finishing (cover decoration), so the effort of forwarding (while pleasant) felt like a distraction from the learning process.
  • I have become increasingly conservative in my binding efforts. It’s time to reverse this trend. My interest in a lot of the more adventurous structures and decorational techniques was reignited by the things I saw, and heard about, in the conference.
  • I have a real taste for modernity in bindings. Most of my books on binding focus on the traditional styles, from about the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries through to the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s. Some of these binding styles were very gaudy, and my taste runs more to simplicity. But until I saw some of the slideshows of modern bindings, I didn’t really see how to marry that taste for simplicity with fine binding. Now my head is full of ideas, visions of simple, restrained bindings. They’ll even cost me less in finishing tools!

10 Years

A decade ago yesterday, I woke up in my parents’ house. It was my last morning as a Foley.

The house was full of college-aged guests, too impecunious to stay elsewhere. Then there was the family: two parents, two small children, and me (Mick lived elsewhere by then). And guests and relatives were wandering in and out from time to time. It was a zoo, but a delightful zoo, with someone unexpected in every room.

I laid out my beautiful wedding dress, handmade of silk by my mother, and the shoes I’d chosen to go with it. Then I realised that I didn’t have tights! A quick drive to Payless solved that, though all they had were “control top” tights. I shrugged and figured they would make me look even better in the dress.

By the time I came home, everyone was getting ready. I managed to get some mirror time, just enough to brush my hair and put a little makeup on. I never wear much, and that day was no exception. I took the least time to get ready of anyone in that house, with plenty of time to help Kathleen with her hair.

I remember very little after driving to the church in the van. Martin and I had memorised our lines, and were word-perfect through the ceremony, but I don’t recall much of it. We drove to the reception in Jeeps, with white streamers tied to the roll bars. We ate, drank, and were merry, but again, I remember very little of it.

I was just too happy.

I’m still happy now, a decade later. Not in the same euphoric, memory-destroying way, of course, or they’d have to lock me up as a danger to myself and others. But my marriage to Martin has been even better than the wedding.

There have been bad times, of course, and no doubt there will be again. But the greatest joy of our marriage is that we can overcome adversity better as a couple (even adversity within the couple) better than we could individually.

It is far from time to rest on our laurels – with a toddler running rampant and a baby on the way, we certainly have some challenging times ahead. But we have made a good start.

I love you, Martin, even more than I did on the day I cannot remember.