The bindery through my eyes
The bindery is a mysterious place. It is where the human intellect and psyche are encased in a three-dimensional artifact that is functional, long lasting and beautiful: the (bound) book.
If we just go by the aforementioned description, omitting the word “book”, then one would reasonably assume binderies are where some kind of wizard or alchemist practice their mystical arts.
Yet within a bindery you will not find smoking cauldrons and dark crystals but simple tools (and machines) that have been used and improved over endless generations, and yet through them something incredible is achieved. We might not realize it due to how common they’ve become, but books are extraordinary pieces of technology: proof of our capacity to collect, transform and use all sorts of materials to create conveniently sized arks of humanity’s thoughts, that don’t require power to function and can last for thousands of years.
As Arthur C. Clarke said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” …
My bindery’s story
I began making books in an apartment block built in the 20s, in the most rundown district of Athens. Back then it was among the first apartment blocks found in the city and it was intended for use by the bourgeoisie as it had many luxuries and amenities (such as marbled staircases and elevator) that most people wouldn’t experience till the 50s-60s.
At the time it became my workspace the picture was completely different: the neighborhood had become a ghetto and the building itself was mostly empty and left to its fate. Just to give you an example: my apartment’s plumbing didn’t work so I had to carry buckets of water from another tenant.
Even so I loved the place and I loved bookbinding too, so I persisted until the amount of work I was getting allowed me to move to a new location.
This was a huge leap of faith for me, but one that has paid off. I found me a nice and cozy Hobbit hole in a great neighborhood and gradually my bindery has evolved into one I wouldn’t even dream off during my first years in the craft. It’s a workspace ideal for tackling complex artistic projects, teaching bookbinding to others and making tools.