Coffee Chat with Rosie-Anne Pinney
How did you get into bookbinding?
My passion for bookbinding began many years ago in England at Oxford Polytechnic where I was studying for a degree in Visual Studies and History of Art. My teacher, Master Bookbinder Ivor Robinson's superb craftsmanship, beautifully gold-tooled leather bindings and nurturing personality were all I needed as a young arts student to develop a life-long love of this craft. Since then I have enjoyed doing various bookbinding and book arts courses in New Zealand, notably a course with Australian bookbinder Rosemarie Jeffers-Palmer who taught me some wonderful ways of manipulating leather into ripples, folds and wonderfully tactile textures. More recently I developed my technical expertise under the guidance of Christine Carr, who founded and ran Cambria Craft Bindery for 19 years. In 2013 she retired and I took over the business.
What tools do you use for bookbinding?
Bookbinding uses a lot of specialist tools, more than many other crafts. Some of my larger pieces of equipment, for example my book press, paper guillotine and gold foil printer, were made early last century from solid cast iron. They are incredibly heavy and caused the movers more than a little angst when we moved the bindery from Cambria Street to my home workshop in Brough Terrace. I enjoy knowing that I am one in a continuing line of bookbinders who have used these pieces of equipment to ply their trade. Many of my small tools such as my wooden sewing frame, backing press and backing hammer for rounding spines and roll for gold tooling were sourced from retired bookbinders while the many trays of lead type which I use to print titles on books come from old print shops.
What are some of the interesting jobs that you've done?
Last year I worked on some books for DreamWorks who were filming The Light between Oceans in Picton. They had a lighthouse keeper's record book which needed some repairs and they also asked me to make policemen's notebooks in the style of early last century. I was amazed by how important it is to get absolutely everything looking right in period dramas. Another special commission I did last year was hand sewing some funeral programmes designed by Memory Press. The client wanted the programmes to have a softer, more individual feel which the linen thread (in place of staples) affectively provided.
What do you love the most about your job?
Every job is different and has its own challenges and rewards. Not only do I get the chance to restore some very special books many of which are historic family heirlooms but I also help clients design books for special occasions or uses such as wedding albums, guest books and anniversary books. Repairing or making a new hand-bound book is also a very varied process involving many different techniques and skills which means I never get bored! I also love the materials I work with: fine papers, colourful book cloth, silky leather and even smelly animal hide glue.