This week I had my first lesson at local bookbinder's shop in our village, la Clarté. Opposite the church is a tiny shopfront hiding inside an old fashioned wood panelled shop with a jumble of rooms at the back filled with traditional equipment. The workshop is lined with benches and banks of drawers filled with mouth watering papers of all sorts, including handmade, japanese and some even over 100 years old which are used for renovating ancient books.
Anne, the proprietor, had told me when I first visited the shop that it could be possible to make a sketchbook in 3 hours so I went prepared with my watercolour paper already torn to size and arranged in 'cahiers'. I was shown first how to use a 'cousoir', a stitching frame, to stitch the sheets together and then glue and shape the spine. We then started on the cover which I had chosen to cover in a fabric from Anne's collection of scraps, being more robust for a sketchbook than paper.
We cut and glued the cover, well actually Anne did all the work so I could see how it was done properly. I was very impressed with the result and having made many notes I'm sure I can turn out something decent when I get started! It took all of the 3 hours too and I enjoyed every second as well as meeting the other 3 students who were working on their own projects of book restoration. I returned yesterday to purchase a second hand cousoir and arrange to collect a supply of glue and other bits I need to make my books.
I can't wait to start making my own sketchbooks but I think it will be a while before I break even and start saving money on the cost of buying ready made ones!