The Festival of the Book

Well the Australian Bookbinding Conference, Bind 19 is over and was a great success. The NSW Guild of Craft Bookbinders did a fantastic job organising the conference. The venue was beautiful, right on the water and even the food was great. The speakers/presenters were all wonderful and all of us in the trade room had a fabulous time. The courses which we held both before and after the conference went very well too and the feedback was excellent!

The conference opening was held at the historic writers centre in Callan Park Rozelle where the NSW bookbinders have their workshop. We learnt a little of the history of the NSW guild from John Turner in a very entertaining introduction. There were demonstrations from Guild members which included making book cloth by backing with Japanese paper, printing techniques, paste paper making and calligraphy. It was a lovely evening and a great way to start the conference.


Barbara Schmelzer kicked off the programme on Saturday morning with a great talk on Hinged Parchment Binding as per Fra Edgard Claes. We hope to have some books for sale soon with the instructions on this ingenious binding. Everyone came away from the presentation wanting to have a go. Then we heard from the conservation guru, Kay Sunderland who spoke about different types of damage to paper and how to best protect it.  Our very own Karen Vidler gave an interesting talk on “honouring the bookbinder” when repairing books. Just before lunch we were entertained with a talk from British bookbinder, artist, Nicky Oliver who talked about her approach to designing a book, dying leather and artistic collaborations. Nicky’s work is so colourful and interesting, I loved hearing that she starts her designs from the inside of the book, end papers and doublures designed first and then the outside design.


After lunch Dominic Riley gave a demonstration of tips and tricks that he has learned over many years of binding, he managed to squeeze an enormous amount into his time allocation, I hope everyone was taking notes. We finished the day with a beautiful presentation by Philippa Räder on the re-binding of the Birds of America from the Royal Collection in Windsor Castle. So lovely to see the photos of this incredible book and the enormous obstacles that the binders had to overcome in dealing with the sheer size of the book. Fascinating!


Sunday morning, we had an update from each of the Guilds present. It would be lovely if someone started a Guild in Tasmania don’t you think? Afterward Joy Tonkin gave a great demonstration of the floating boards technique, I hope everyone who attended went home and had a go! Then we heard from Julie Sommerfeldt who spoke about her very fortunate experiences around the world of bookbinding.

Kathy Abbott demonstrated some lovely headbands for us, oh and I almost forgot to mention, the night before at the dinner, Kathy spoke about the group “Tomorrows Past” which is a small group of bookbinders who make conservation bindings for antiquarian books however they make these conservation bindings in a modern way. If you are interested in reading more about this and I think you should take a look here. Dieter Räder Demonstrated the Edelpappband, a lovely little elegant binding which he taught the following week here at Andersen’s Bindery. Then we finished the day with a demonstration by Michaels Burke of the Islamic Box Binding.


A fascinating array of talks and demonstrations over the three day event. So much fun catching up with all our lovely customers and old friends and best of all the Queensland Guild plan to organise the next conference! I hope to see you there.