By the book with Chertsey’s Some Odd Pages - Surrey Creations

PUBLISHED: 09:37 28 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:37 28 June 2016

Meg working her magic in her studio

Meg working her magic in her studio

Philip Traill

Having started out making little books as a childhood hobby, bookbinder Meg Green, of Chertsey’s Some Odd Pages, will be celebrating 20 years since she opened her first studio this autumn. Here, she tells us more about the fascinating process of rescuing and restoring old books

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2016

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With the prevalence of e-readers these days and old bookshops something of a rarity, it’s refreshing to discover that the art of bookbinding still has a place in Surrey society.

“Lots of people have e-readers now, and they are handy on the train or on holiday, but it’s also clearly evident that people still love the tactile qualities of physical paper books,” says Chertsey-based bookbinder, Meg Green. “Around the end of the 18th century, the invention of photography caused loud speculation about the death of painting. Similar arguments emerged again on the invention of video, predicting the demise of cinema. In the current era of digital media, people still love the very ancient ‘technology’ of books, but we now select specific qualities intrinsic to the physical page: the feel of beautiful papers, fine leathers, silk covers, the weight and shape of the volume, the texture of the binding and the brilliance of hand-marbled endpapers.”

An interest that began as a child, making little books with her English-teacher parents, Meg started making books again as a way of getting her work “down from glass-box frames on exhibition walls” when she began her Master of Fine Arts programme.

“I wanted a more direct relationship with the viewer and I liked the way a book in the hand whispers directly to the reader’s/viewer’s mind,” she continues. “I began taking apart books of all kinds to see how the internal structures worked, how they moved and what held them together. I found that every book was different, depending on where and when it was made.”

Her approach to repairing and reconstructing books is still to restore the book as closely as possible to its original form and secure the structure with the least invasive methods possible, but challenges come in many forms.

“Often the books that people love most are the ones that have the most ‘wear and tear’,” says Meg. “Newly-bound books look, feel and smell gorgeous but well-worn covers, aged leather polished through touch over years of use, well-thumbed pages, marginalia in a tiny script inked by previous owners, inclusions tucked into the pages; these things contribute to the personality of a much-loved book.

“I’m definitely busier now than I was ten years ago and the investment people make in the books they value is certainly more carefully considered. I’m convinced this is a good thing.”

We can’t help but agree with that…

• For more on Meg’s work, see someoddpages.com

Need to know:

Surrey Creations is a series by local photographer, Philip Traill, exploring people in their work environment, capturing the characters and what they do in a single image. Contact Philip by e-mail: philip@traillphotography.com

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