Recent BBB News

I have a blog post up over on the Guild of Book Workers blog. I've shared a few photos of my trip to Relma, the fabulous bookbinding store in Paris.

George from Tedorigawa Bookmakers kindly interviewed me for his podcast a few months ago. I've been shy to share it, there's always something funny about hearing your own recorded voice, especially since it seems I'm prone to giggling. It was a pleasure to speak with him and fun to connect with another book lover all the way in Japan!

Annette from wrote to let me know that she included my Star Book Tutorial in their "How to Bind a Book" post. The post is full of all sorts of links to great tutorials.

I just read a great article about Mark Andersson, my instructor for most of my time at NBSS, and it is a fantastic read. The article, from the Explorer Newspaper, is actually an old one, so I either missed it the first time around, or it's so well written that it feels new every time you read it! Josh made the above illustration for us to put on a poster that we could sign when Mark was leaving NBSS and headed for the land of rattlesnakes. He always told us tall tales of bookbinding in the trenches, or whilst riding on a motorcycle, or who remembers what? Sometimes when you don't have an awl handy the next best thing is gonna be bullets.

Boombox Bindery Interview on Bookbinding Team Blog

This morning, Hilke, one of my bookbinding friends across the world has posted an interview with me on the Bookbinding Team blog! It was such an honor to be asked, and I had a really nice time corresponding with her this week. She's such a neat person, I felt like I should be interviewing her! Here are a few things I know about her:

Hilke also goes by buechertiger, which translates to book tiger. She lives in Germany and has an awesome blog called Verzwirnt Und Zugeleimt: Into the Realm of Book Arts by Trial and Error. I love her blog because she does such a good job of sharing her recent work, and she manages to give a snapshot into her daily life, which is so fun! Also, her recent paste paper tutorial is excellent and very thorough, so if you've been wanting to give paste paper a try - check it out! The photo to the left is one of her papers. She has a wonderful gallery of work, and she also has an Etsy shop full of lovely books.

Many thanks, Hilke!

Tools of the Trade: An Interview with Randy J. Arnold

I posted this article over on the Bookbinding Team blog today. Read on to learn about an awesome tool maker!

Lovely ebony folders have been on my mind for the past couple of months. If you read my first post about folders, you’ve probably gathered that I am quite a fond of these useful tools. Randy J. Arnold, makes a variety of exceptionally beautiful wooden folders. I’ve been keeping an eye on his Etsy shop, and am increasingly impressed with each new product he has to offer. It doesn’t end with folders, or the custom boxes he builds for them. Randy makes a range of bookbinding tools, from those ebony folders I’ve had my eye on, to punching cradles and nipping presses.

After following a few links from his shop, I stumbled upon, It turns out that in addition to making amazing tools, Randy is a luthier and has a blog dedicated to his craft. Naturally, I was curious about what led him from banjos to bookbinding tools and my hunch was that he must have a bookbinder in his life! Randy kindly agreed to a phone interview last week, and I’m so glad, because it was so much fun to talk to him!

Woodworking seems to run in his blood. He is self taught, but was lucky to be able to observe his grandfather and father work in the family shop, which is pictured above. His grandfather worked on household projects and his father was a talented furniture maker. Randy has come a long way since those days as a young boy watching his father and grandfather; he inherited the family home and restored the shop to working order. You can read more about his efforts here and here.

As far as having a bookbinder in his life, I’m proud to say that my hunch was right! Randy’s partner, the talented Amy LeePard of Painted Bunting Books is the reason he started making bookbinding tools. Amy, who studied with Amy Pirkle at the University of Alabama, initially used tools provided by the university, but found that she really needed her own, and was looking for a better quality than was readily available. That’s when Randy stepped in and made his first set of folders. Amy took her new handcrafted folders to a Julie Chen workshop and the Paper and Book Intensive. Other book workers saw these fine tools and couldn’t help but want their own! Interest and encouragement from these book workers prompted a few custom orders for individuals and beyond. Randy’s work is now offered through Colophon Book Arts Supply and through the Morgan Conservatory. You can also find his work at our favorite place, on Etsy!

Like any artist, Randy looks to things around him for inspiration. His main inspiration is, of course, Amy, but inspiration also strikes when he is looking into family history, hiking, or riding his bike. As he slowly pedals down the road on his bicycle he has time to think about preliminary designs and work out any technical details of current projects. Fresh air and beautiful surroundings, as seen in the photo above, can go a long way for encouragement! I'm sure his bike rides are also a great time to think about his next choice in materials. He tries to use materials that are found locally, whether it be the wood he finds from his local sources, regionally tanned leather, or spalted wood found on one of his hikes.

Buying a fine tool, should be like buying a nice piece of furniture. The tool should be well made and built to last. Randy subscribes to this philosophy, and using the same tools as his father and grandfather before him, he makes tools for bookbinders that are not only delightful to look at, but rewarding to use.

Randy is still a luthier and while he is finding a balance between the two, working on bookbinding equipment gives him an opportunity to employ techniques he wouldn't otherwise get to practice. There are so many things he’d like to make, it’s just a matter of deciding what to make first! A main priority is addressing Amy’s needs (naturally), but he’d love to hear what you might like to see available in his shop. He mentioned that he's working on a vertical plough, which I'd love to see! Feel free to get in touch with him or leave a comment below.

Thanks again Randy, for a great conversation!