Friday, November 18, 2011

Vivi does a stage

As you know, I've been wanting to learn about bookbinding (reliure in French) for ages now, and I managed to meet a professional bookbinder who offers classes in Paris with whom I was supposed to do a stage, or workshop, with in October. So imagine my total shock when I got in touch with her in September and she had apparently forgotten about me and given away my place. It wasn't the end of the world, as I could always wait until the next one in February, but I was bitterly disappointed.

Then suddenly, several weeks later, she called and told me that a place had opened back up due to illness and would I be interested? Boy howdy! So, in the end, I did do my week long workshop in Paris and spent what was possibly one of the best weeks since I've moved here.

All materials were provided by the bookbinder, but I had to come with books. But not any old books, they had to be from a certain date (around the 1950's and 1960's), as recent books aren't constructed in the same way, and they couldn't be too damaged. The goal would be to take the books completely apart, perform any repairs needed, and rebound them with a hard cloth cover. I was told to bring four or five books. I found these at a used book shop around the corner from my work. They are from a series called "Que sais-je ?" (What do I know?) that actually still exists.



We were supposed to choose two books to repair and rebound; we ended up doing all four of them. I cannot believe we managed to finish, but it was by the skin of our teeth and I didn't get to bring them home with me as they needed to go in the press a final time. Since the bookbinder actually lives half an hour away from me (but only gives classes in Paris, totally frustrating!!!) I was able to pick them up the next week.

I didn't take a lot of photos while I worked - I simply didn't have time!! - but I did think to get this one:


All four books were sewn on the same ribbon, there are three here complete.

And here are the finished products:





This week was very emotional for me. It's not very often that you get to take your first real steps to realizing your dream. I've wanted to study bookbinding for years and never had the courage to pursue it, and when I finally did, I found that it isn't going to be as easy as simply going to bookbinding school. I basically did this week long stage to see if I was really interested and if I was capable of doing this, and I found that I certainly am. I still can't believe that I spent hours on end scraping glue off paper and didn't even see the time pass. I nearly cried when it was time to leave because I knew it would be a long time before I would get to work in a real workshop with real professionals again. It is breaking my heart that I'm getting shut down everywhere I turn to move forward with this, simply due to the fact that there aren't professionals anywhere near me, but I'm going to keep trying.

Also, I was as sick as a dog that entire week, the one thing I dreaded and I couldn't avoid it. I wasn't able to get out and see as many people that I wanted to while I was in Paris but there is always a next time, right?

In the meantime, there is a retired bookbinder that works sporadically at my work repairing books from our library. When we get back from our vacation in the States I'll be hitting him up to see if I can help him once a week. At least it will keep my hands busy while I'm trying to find a permanent solution.


kylie said...

How exciting, Bella! I'm so glad that you were able to participate in the workshop after all and that it was everything you were hoping for and more. What fun! Scraping glue for hours sounds so glamourous!! :) :) I can't wait to see the finished products with me own eyes. I just hope that I'm in town the next time you are here. :) :)

Jennifer M. said...

You're back! This lurker has missed you.

Sara said...

I've always wanted to learn bookbinding too, but still looking for my opportunity. It's wonderful to hear that it went so well, despite the fact that you were not feeling well. Your passion for this reminds me Julia Child, who found her passion for cooking in her late 30s in France. A beautiful example of what could be..