Una Jordan handmade books and book binding

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“You don’t see much of that anymore” is something people often say to me about my work. The craft of bookbinding is ancient and has sadly been lost to our ever-changing times. I like to think that in my own small way I am contributing to keeping the craft alive, albeit under the guise of handmade books, hand crafted books, book art etc.

I was introduced to book making when I was doing a Certificate in Fine Art at the Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland, 1998 – 2001. It was pretty much by accident I learnt, as I picked it up from students from the States that were also attending the College. These students were integrating it into their work – I was interested – so they taught me the basics. I then started to use books in my art work. Photography was one of my subjects and I used books as a container, a way to present precious, or ‘private’ images. There was something about the viewer almost needing permission to open a book – I liked that. I also went on to make my own paper at that time.

Over the years I have refined the craft and now have my studio in my home on Aughinish. The process of ‘making’ appeals to me – there are so many different stages, all combining to produce something special. The part I enjoy most is choosing the cover paper and then matching the ribbon and thread.

I sell at the Kinvara Farmers Market during the summer months and also do the Christmas Fair every year, as well as doing special commissions.

The Process of Bookbinding

I start the process with cutting the book board – I cut it by hand using a Stanley knife. Then I fold the paper with a bone folder and tear it down to size if necessary. I need an even number of signatures (pages grouped together) and each signature holds 4 sheets of paper. At this stage I mark the spine for stitching – I make a pencil mark at the point on each signature that I need to punch a hole for stitching. I punch the holes individually.
I then choose the handmade paper I am going to cover the board with and pick out the ribbon and thread to match. I begin the stitching process, laying one signature on top of another and stitching over and back around the ribbon until all signatures are attached and I have my book complete.
Next comes gluing the book together – gluing the handmade paper onto the boards, taking care with the corners and then gluing the boards to the book.
The final stage is pressing the book until the glue is dry – or until it is ‘cooked’!!

What others say ...

"Una's books (of which I have a decade of stock) are so exquisitely beautiful you feel you have a magical place to write, draw, imagine in. Her choices of paper, ribon and thread attest to her superb eye for color, pattern and line. It is a joy in this automated world to daily see and experience fine hand crafted art. I love Una!" ... Mb, Chicago

"Úna is based on Aughinish Island in Galway Bay in Ireland. She makes hand-stitched books, journals, notebooks and bookmarks with top quality materials in her home workshop. I buy journals regularly and keep my life experiences jotted down in them for posterity. It's obviously a labour of love for Úna. I hope that anyone who becomes the owner of one of these special books cherishes it as much as its maker. " ... Paddy, Galway.

"I own several journals made by Una.
I started with a small one to keep track of my newborn's feeding and nap times and soon evolved into the most precious memory-keeper, as it became a milestone journal for her whole first year."
... Shauna, Boston

"I have now built up a collection of these journals, I have one for my recipes, another to keep a record of my own craft projects, one for my designs and sketches, I also keep one in my handbag where I write down quick thoughts and reminders... They look beautiful together on the shelf and they make an original and unique gift too." ... Irina, Kinvara, Co. Galway.

"The quality of the paper and their careful detailed finish make this journals a truly special gift." ... Mack NC, USA

 

 

 

 

Una in her workshop

The folding process

Folded paper with the bone folder tool

Punching the holes for stitching

Punching the holes for stitching

The stitching process

The stitching process

Stitched

Stitched

"Weighting" to be glued

Finished product

Finished product

 

 

 

Contact Úna on Mobile: 00353 87 628 2397, Email: unajordan1@gmail.com