In October we attended the Chester Literary Festival and once again our workshops were sold out. Participants left clutching their very own handmade book. Our book kits - ideal Christmas gifts - come complete with everything you need to create your own book and are on sale in our workshop. Or can be ordered by email.
News from Brignell Bookbinders
Board chopper with 40 inch blade for sale at £425.00 buyer to collect. Fair condition, without guard.
Our recent bookbinding workshops at the The Fowey Festival of Words and Music were a sell out and our unique “make your own book” packs were all sold on the first day. Read what the participants have to say about the experience.
- "Brilliant, really satisfying"
- "Very rewarding"
- "I’m hooked, I want to do more"
- "Love it"
- "Wonderful, better than meditation"
Dates for 2013 - 23rd February, 23rd March, 13th April and two dates for May 11th and 25th. We can arrange to send a gift voucher for £85.00 which covers tuition and materials for the make your own Book or Album workshop.
Check tuition page for new dates.
01223 321280 or email@example.com
In 1982 at the age of 26 I found myself facing unemployment. Since I left school, I had been working with a small group of master craftsmen at a long established bookbinding company in Cambridge, but in 1982 the owners came to the view that the fine art of bookbinding was no longer a viable business. This was not a view I shared. With the help of my wife Sue and a local publishing company Woodhead-Faulkner we set up Brignell Bookbinders in Cobble Yard. Though we started on a small scale, it has always been clear that there is much demand and huge interest in what goes on in the workshop. Thirty years after Brignell Bookbinders started we have the immense privilege of being able to look back at all the great people who have been involved in the business and some of the fantastic projects we have been part of. Whilst many people have come and gone, we were fortunate to be joined in the mid 80s by Paul Gill who learnt his skills under the watchful eye of the same small group of master craftsmen who taught me in the 70s. Paul continues to play a major part in the workshop along with the core of four or five other important staff members without whom Brignell Bookbinders would simply not be the same.
The art of conservation and restoration is still very much in demand, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to spend my days in the workshop surrounded by my work and the people that help make it such a rewarding working environment.
Since the business started, we have been involved in a diverse range of projects and never know what will come through the door. Sometimes it’s the one-off individual client wishing to see their cherished family treasure restored to its original state; or it could be the creative artist who knows that he/she wants something really special and unique and can’t quite believe that we are willing to produce such an article; and we have the tremendous privilege of being involved in the ongoing conservation and restoration of some of the finest libraries from the University of Cambridge to the Royal Societies in London.
One of our recent projects involved the production of 200 fine bound leather volumes celebrating the history of the Bentley 8 Litre. We worked on a similar project for the St John’s Ambulance as part of their ‘Over to you John’ fund raising event; we produced volumes to celebrate the 150 year history of The Prudential and have worked on a number of special projects with Kip Gresham at The Print Studio in Cambridge; we also worked with Churchill Archives when Margaret Thatcher donated her papers to the library.
After numerous requests to provide tuition on a regular basis, we re-located to Gwydir Street, allowing us to offer the facilities to teach bookbinding to anyone wishing to learn, bringing another dimension to the workshop. We have visiting interns (mostly international) who come along for six months or so and we have regular groups of students all at different levels of skill. We offer beginners workshops as well as simply providing the space for some of our more experienced students to come along and work alongside us on their own project. We are there to give advice if they need it but otherwise they simply become a familiar and comfortable part of the working week. There is tremendous variety among those we teach. From those who are young and have not quite worked out what their profession will be, to those with full time jobs in medicine, law and education who come for just a couple of hours a week, and also those who have retired and found a new passion in bookbinding.
Not that we are thinking of retiring yet, but we hope very much that sometime soon, one of our students will be so inspired by the workshop and want to stay on so that this unique and very special working environment can continue for many years to come.
I was amazed, delighted and momentarily speechless when I arrived at the workshop on Friday to discover a party was planned with me as the guest of honour. What on earth was going on? I just could not think what I had done to warrant such attention. There was bubbly, the most beautiful cake and a sea of smiling faces. Turns out a casual mention a while ago that this month sees me bookbinding for 40 years had been taken note of and a party planned to celebrate the occasion.
It was great to see everyone and I am touched by the generosity and the kind words spoken by friends and colleagues. I shall treasure the book of comments.
There was a quip about the first 40 years being the worse but I love my work and consider myself to be fortunate to spend my days in the workshop. I have great colleagues, interesting clients and enthusiastic students.
Some of the students have been coming to the bindery for many years and others have joined us more recently. It’s good to listen to the banter and such a pleasure to share in the moment when someone finally masters a technique that seemed impossible a short while ago.
Thank you to all those involved in the cover up and I assure you all that I do plan to continue for at least another 40 years – I could never think of doing anything else.
Recently we welcomed Dominique and her granddaughter to the Studio. Both are hobby bookbinders, Dominique in Rennes and Sophie in Toulouse and were visiting a Cambridge friend who is a valued client of ours. It is always lovely to show people what we do and especially nice to see the ladies delight in seeing familiar tools and techniques in an unfamiliar place. Dominique and Sophie loved poring through our collection of endpapers and pointed out how lucky we are to have such excellent local marblers – Peyhembury Papers, Cockerell Papers and Victoria Hall to name a few.
It always amazes me how modest some of our students are. Gordon has been coming in once a week for more than ten years and only now, in a humdrum conversation did we discover that he is the recipient of an OBE. We pleaded with him to bring in his medal which he did. What a thrill to see such a thing close up and hold it. And what a privilege to have such lovely people in our workshop.
May’s Workshop went well with a mix of regular attendees and two people new to book binding. In the words of Simon, a long-term student.
"It is quite amazing what a beginner can achieve at their first workshop using traditional techniques and quality materials. Barry’s teaching is first class – no cutting corners allowed and plenty of encouragement and support provided to help you finish a hand made product that does what it’s meant to and looks great. Just as importantly, the workshops are lots of
fun and a great way to relax. Highly addictive and recommended."
April’s workshop was very good. All students producing excellent books to take home.
Dates for Workshops through to September 2012 are now on the calendar.
Dates for tuition are available on our tution page. There are spaces available for our new 2012 Saturday workshops. For full details, see our tuition page or contact us
Due to popular demand for classes. We now start at 3.30pm on Tuesday till 7.30pm.
We have some items for sale:
- Leather bound albums and sketch books which make ideal gifts and can be personalised with gold or silver lettering.
- Address books for sale. Prices range from £15.00 – £40.00
- Odd rolls of cloth for sale 5-10mts prices from £15.00.
- Large bags of off-cuts only £5.00
- Plus from time to time bookbinding equipment and tools for sale. Please call or email for list of tools.
If you have purchased leather goods and would like to personalise these we can do that for you. We are often asked to add initials to wallets, briefcases, files and guncases etc.
We have just recently completed a restoration project on a set of 35 leather books for a long-standing London client. This was very delicate work as most of the original spines were preserved. Those parts of the volumes that were too fragile to restore were replicated and blended with what could be preserved of the original.