A Real Bookbinder in a Real Shop!

Last night I had my first bookbinding lesson with a real bookbinder I found here in Jerusalem. He has worked for libraries in conservation and also works as a book artist.  He has made books for The Queen (THE) and The Pope.  He's pretty serious.  He had been wanting to start a class of 4 but was missing one student for months. I called him about two weeks ago and as I made the fourth student we started almost immediately.

It's amazing to me how things have fallen in to place for me in many areas. That's not to say that I haven't worked hard for them, or that hardships haven't come my way, but that I am so grateful for the areas in which things have worked out for us here in Jerusalem. In fact, this has answered the desires of my heart in many ways. I really wanted to train with a professional while I was here AND I have really been wanting to get to know local Israelis. My experience with locals has been almost solely with Palestinians and I was feeling a little lopsided in my cultural education here in Jerusalem.

This class is made up of four Israeli's (including my teacher)with very different experiences. One of the women is from Russia and is a paper artist. She told us that she had brokered a deal with her husband where she got to do whatever she wanted for a year and not think about making money. She recently worked in Judaicia, illuminating important Jewish documents, but now does beautiful artists books. The other woman is doing post doctorate work in neuroscience but is the artist in residence somewhere I couldn't understand and was too embarrassed to ask (you'll know why later). My teacher is from Canada via Germany (I think) and wears jeans with suspenders to class. He has a great sense of humor and has made lots of little gadgets to make bookbinding more efficient - some of which I will be the recipient of. Also, the bookbinding studio doubles as a brewery on the weekends if that tells you something about the awesomeness of the place.

If it wasn't already obvious to our class that I wasn't local (the class is taught in English, but almost everyone speaks Hebrew as their native language) at one point our teacher was talking about the "shul", a word I had never heard before.  I waited for a while to see if I would catch on from the context, but I couldn't quite figure out what he was talking about.

Finally I said, "um, what's a shul?"  And I felt at least one pair of eyes focus in on me, head titled to the side in wonder.

"Synagogue.  It's the Synagogue"  my teacher answered.  Shul, evidently, is Yiddish for Synagogue.  No one made me feel silly, they are all VERY nice, but I felt silly enough myself.  I still stand that it's better to ask questions and look foolish than look smart and be confused, but maybe I'll do some research before entering a new situation next time:)

I'll keep you posted on the projects we work on. I am mostly hoping to get rid of bad habits I've developed since my last formal class 4 years ago and pick up lots of new good habits.


  1. Brooke--

    That is awesome. I can't wait to see what comes of this new opportunity.

  2. Yes, awesome indeed! I hope to see lots of pictures of your projects.

  3. Brooke...

    Well done on choosing a good skill and craft. Bookbinding has many facets and there are many ways to bind and use different bindings. A good master will tell you why you do certain operations and derive from time how they came about.

    Dave of www.citybinders.co.uk

  4. What a fabulous opportunity. I am drooling on my keyboard!

  5. That is so cool. What an amazing opportunity.

  6. You are something else. I've loved reading your posts, and can hardly wait to hear about your Italian adventures!

  7. I have to admit that all through your post I kept thinking of _People of the Book_.

  8. I forgot to tell you that I finished People of the Book a few weeks ago. LOVED it. I think of it quite regularly also. Thanks for the suggestion!