Sollas Bookbinding is a small artisan book binding studio in the Outer Hebrides.
The first time I spent time in a bindery was in Berlin in the early 90s. My brother and I had made an illustrated poetry collection for my mum and dad which I bound into a little book without really knowing how. That was the spark that gave me the courage to walk into a small bookbinding workshop in my neighbourhood and ask, whether I could do a summer placement. I ended up spending all my summers there during my years of studying languages in Edinburgh, learning some of the basics of the craft.
But most of my skills I learned from Sylvia Juhl, a master binder from my home town Salzwedel in Germany, with whom I have spent many hours in her workshop during those years and who generously shared her intricate and expert knowledge with me. We still frequently exchange ideas and thoughts about new book structures and what is more, our friendship has started a creative exchange between Uist artists and artists from the Uckermark just north of Berlin with exchange visits and shared exhibitions.
I have also been very lucky to receive mentoring from the renowned London-based designer binder Tracey Rowledge and in 2004 I established my own workshop here in North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Working creatively with my hands was what I needed to balance the mentally demanding work of writing my PhD thesis on translation which I finished in 2007. In 2008 I established my combined business as a bookbinder and translator working from my studio in the beautiful home I share with my husband and our two boys. You find a link to my translation work at the top of this page.
The joy of bookbinding is the wide variety of work that fills every day in the studio:
- Books and boxes made to order and for sale
- One-to-one or group workshop tuition in different bookbinding and box making techniques
- Repair and rebinding of old and new books
- Bespoke commissions of books, boxes or presentation portfolios
- Elegant menu folders for restaurants, hotels and cafes
- Book kits with everything in them to make a book yourself
I love living and working in Sollas and the patterns and colours of my surroundings here find their way into my work. And so does the way of life itself. As one of the islands of the Outer Hebrides, North Uist has many visitors during the summer months and a number of them love to explore their creativity during their stay.
This gives me the chance to offer workshops to both adults and children which have become an integral part to the work I do as a bookbinder. Feel free to email me to arrange for group workshops or individual one-to-one tuition.
My books and boxes are made employing traditional bookbinding techniques which I love adhering to closely. I do however also want to give my work its very own style and feel. This I achieve through hand crafting the decorative paper I use to cover the objects I make. It is effectively a paper batik.
Many layers of ink, dyes and wax ensure a rich and deep texture which at times is evocative of sea, sand and rock patterns and at other times a mere aesthetic expression. The wax is ironed out at the end of the process leaving the paper with a very tactile quality to it. This makes my books and boxes attractive and sturdy at the same time.
The use of quality cartridge paper for the book blocks makes the books ideal for sketching, taking notes or keeping thoughts.
The boxes make beautiful homes to jewellery, photographs, artist’s tools, letters and all kind of other treasures.
Each item is individually hand-crafted, making it an ideal ‘special’ gift. I am also very happy to make both books and boxes to order.