I believe that handmade can and should be synonymous with excellence. For me, 'handmade' isn't an excuse for a wonky stitch or an uneven edge. Rather, 'handmade' represents craftsmanship; attention to detail, respect for materials, pride in a job well done, commitment to sustaining a heritage craft and genuine forging of relationships with customers, stockists and suppliers.
And unlike mass-produced, machine-made books, handmade represents quality. To that end, each of my books is hand-sewn with archival materials in archival binding styles, meaning they will never fall apart, no matter how often you use them. Everything is bound by hand using time-honoured bookbinding techniques and tools. New materials, contemporary colours and innovative yet archival binding styles provide freshness and excitement.
The slower, human pace of handmade allows me to pay attention to detail, it has instilled in me an intimate knowledge of materials, and over the years has given me the opportunity to focus on perfecting my techniques.
I bind most of my books with paper that is folded and torn to size the traditional way - by hand. The resulting 'deckle' edges lend an authentic hand bound look and feel to the books.
Mohawk Superfine: Wedding Guest Books, Leather Journals and Miniature Journals are bound with this premium paper which is excpetionally smooth and ideal for writing with fountain pen, ballpoint biro or pencil. It's also acid-free and archival quality. Produced from FSC certified 100% virgin fibre, it's guaranteed to be responsibility harvested from well-managed forests, and is manufactured by windpower with zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Heavy Cartridge: Memory Books are bound with heavyweight cartridge paper with spacers in the spine to allow for inclusions such as photographs. The thickness of the paper means the book can be handled time and again, through the generations. Accordion Sketchbook Sets also contain this acid-free paper, which is a fine grain 220gsm.
Watercolour & Artist's Papers: Watercolour Sketchbooks have 300gsm cold pressed fine grain watercolour paper which is an acid free, FSC-certified paper made in England. Further papers for artists are available on request, such as lighter weight watercolour, recycled 140gsm cartridge, or paper for pastels and charcoal.
Cotton rag paper: an eco-friendly paper handmade with 100% cotton rag recycled from textile industry waste. I use it to make Japanese Sketchbooks and the Wabi-Sabi Sketchbooks, too. Both have pronounced deckle edges and are gelatine sized for ink, watercolour, drawing and printmaking. Khadi paper features natural variations in page size, surface and colour and embodies the wabi-sabi aesthetic; embracing natural imperfections.
Linen: one of the most environmentally sustainable textiles available. Strong, durable and beautifully tactile, its fibres are produced from the flax plant. I use waxed linen thread in a variety of colours to sew the books, and woven linen ribbons as a closure option for a natural, softer look and feel. By its very nature, linen is vegan.
Linen is made from the flax plant - Linum usitatissimum - which grows very happily in our damp European environments. Here, it doesn't need extra water and it doesn't' require fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides, so avoiding pollution of waterways. Furthermore, it doesn't result in waste, as every bit of the plant is used, producing textiles, food, oil and paper. After harvesting, the roots are ploughed back into the soil for nourishment. The V&A has an excellent article 'Linen: the original sustainable material' which I've linked to below.
Linen thread is a traditional bookbinding choice and makes for durable and beautiful books. It's a sign of quality. Silk has similar qualities and is used for fine bindings. Never buy a book sewn with cotton embroidery thread or wool.
Cork: an environmentally sustainable, renewable plant-based material produced from the bark of Quercus Suber L., the Cork Oak tree. I use cork textile to make Vegan Sketchbooks and Mini Journals. Cork is an excellent vegan alternative to genuine leather and an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic leather. It is dyed with natural materials and is backed with textile which is 65% cotton, 35% polyester.
Cork shares similar properties to leather including softness, strength and durability. It is delightfully tactile, warm to the touch, smooth yet with some natural variations to surface. It is water-resistant, hypoallergenic and available in a variety of colours, all produced from natural dyes.
Protected by law, cork forests are sustainably harvested with rest periods that allow the trees to naturally regenerate their bark. The maintenance of Cork Oak forests is encouraged by the World Wildlife Fund, as these Montados prevent soil erosion and desertification and support a host of other plants and wildlife including endangered species such as the Iberian lynx and Iberian Imperial Eagle. Using cork textile promotes the growth of these forests, which are mainly found in Portugal and other Mediterranean countries.
I use fine quality leather from a British tannery with an excellent reputation. The leathers are extremely tactile, smooth and warm to the touch and subtly glossy. Some slight markings and discolouration will likely feature in the leather I use to make your books; these are natural variations in structure and surface. I do cut pieces to minimise any visible marks as much as possible and the quality and beauty of your book remains first class.
Goatskin: organic, tanned only with natural materials then hand polished and finished to reveal the beauty of its natural, fine grain. Veins and subtle variations in colour and shade are often visible on the inner surface, a testament to the authenticity of this natural material. This is a lovely choice of leather for A6 and A5 bespoke Journals and colourful Wedding Guest Books.
Calfskin: a larger skin that offers the opportunity for A4 size books. This leather is also finished for extra protection. Because no grain correction by machine-embossing is made, the skins retain their natural beauty and are superior to grain-corrected leathers. Slightly less glossy than goatskin, it has a distinctive napped inner surface.
Browse the Ready to Ship Collection for a variety of books made with these natural materials.