Sustainability and the Green Maker Initiative

move slow and mend things print in bookbinding studio

One of the things I love about bookbinding is the fact that it is so slow and considered. I love using age-old tools and methods in my work. Nearly everything is done by hand with very few electrical tools, in fact the only one I can think of is my finishing stove which I use for heating the tools for gold tooling. It makes me very happy to repair a damaged book, keeping it safe for future generations.

My own work is really all about the materials I use, and I’m always inspired by the simplicity of natural materials: handmade and watercolour papers (many made here in Somerset at St Cuthbert's Mill and the Two Rivers Paper Company), linen, organic vegetable tanned leather, beeswax. 

natural materials for bookbinding

I’m lucky to live in a place surrounded by beautiful countryside, and nature is a big part of my life. I walk every day, something I prioritise as essential to my wellbeing, and I keep an allotment. The continuity, rhythms and repetitions of nature and the seasons can be found in my work too: making books involves a lot of slow, calming, repetitive processes.

I try keep my carbon footprint as low as possible. My studio is at home so I don’t need to travel to work. I throw very little away; keeping all my offcuts of paper, leather and cloth and using them to make mini books and cards. I'm careful with packaging, using recycled and recyclable, reusable or compostable paper, cardboard and tape, and my business cards are printed on 100% cotton card. My local post office is a few minutes walk away.

parcel of hand bound books

The Green Maker Initiative has been launched by MAKE Southwest, working with the EDRF funded Low Carbon Devon project at the University of Plymouth. I’m really excited to have signed up to this and have pledged to reduce the environmental impact of my making practice even further.

On Saturday 19 February 2022 a special Green Maker Initiative event is being held at MAKE Southwest. From 11am – 5pm there will be informative stands on local and community environmental causes, an exhibition, live creative demos, talks, workshops, the launch of a materials exchange, and a Perfectly Imperfect sale. I’ll be taking part in the Perfectly Imperfect sale, where you will be able to buy ‘seconds’ at reduced prices, and ‘appreciate the beauty in the wobbles and the bumps’. I love this idea - so much is wasted when we insist on perfection when the joy of handmade things is in the irregularities.

You can read more about the Green Maker Initiative and the event in February here. I hope to see you there, come and say hello!


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