Three days at Sydney Bookbinding

The past Chinese New Year must count as one of my most enriching and enjoyable.

I had the privilege to spend three fulfilling days with Rosemarie and Terence of Sydney Bookbinding. Rosemarie and her husband Kelvin are also owners of a specialty decorative paper and printing company, Amazing Papers. Combined, you get a quaint bindery nestled within a substantial showroom of decorative printed papers and Japanese chiryogami papers. Pure bliss for paper aficionados, I must say!

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Papers aside, the main purpose of the trip was to take bookbinding tuition from Rosemarie in order to brush up my skills. Of course, prior to the trip, I have looked up Rosemarie’s blog and realised she is teaching the Dos Rapporte book structure and that got me excited! The Dos Rapporte structure is designed by a UK based bookbinder, Benjamin Elbel. On his website, the structure is described as “a very special spine opening that allows for very flat opening” The name, in French which means “hooked on spine” also indicates that the spine, the covers and the book block are made seperately.

What makes Rosemarie’s take on Dos Rappporte structure special is how she had developed her own binding technique through a series of tests and trials together with her fellow bookbinder Terence. Rosemarie bought me through the process of building the book from scratch: sewing on tapes, rounding and finishing the book block, sewing on the headbands, measuring and making the spine piece and attaching the covers.

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The third day of my bookbinding tuition was spent on learning how to do gold tooling using hand tools and a heated stylus. Rosemarie demonstrated and shared her collection of hand tools, pallets and fillets with me. I had a most agonising time…not because the techniques were difficult but rather there were quite a few tools to play with and I was at a loss over what I should use for the session!

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Throughout the three days, Rosemarie had been very patient, meticulous in her teaching and most willing to share little gems of knowledge that will help me in future teaching. As a bonus, Terence also gave some pointers on selecting and sharpening my leather paring knives which are definitely invaluable!

With my completed Dos Rapporte book, new bookbinding knowledge and a complete piece of Kangaroo hide bought from Rosemarie, I am definitely prepared for the new season of [A Bookbinding Cause] starting in less than two weeks (gasp!).

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