Bookbinders in the Wild: Andrea’s story

Date: May 2020
Name: Andrea Taylor
Location: Portobello, Edinburgh
Age: 54
Occupation: Celebrant (Midwife, Yoga Teacher)

What Bookbinding with Cass workshops have you taken?
I discovered Cass’ workshops during lockdown. I have undertaken online workshops including Layered Cross Stitch, Coptic Binding, Mini Bookbinding, along with collaborative workshops The Art of Journalling and Letters To The Future. I was also lucky enough to be able to attend a 5 week in person Intro to Upcycled Bookbinding course at The Remakery in Edinburgh during the easing of lockdown last year. Oh dear I think I’m hooked!

What drew you to Bookbinding?
I noticed Cass on Instagram and entered one of her giveaways for a Bookbinding Kit – I didn’t win but I was drawn in and bought some kits. My daughter and I spent some lockdown days together bookbinding, drinking tea and enjoying each others company.

Can you share a bit about your experience of learning how to make books?
I have found working on my books a peaceful distraction in such difficult times. I am lucky enough to have a space I can use to work on my books and store all my papers, recycling and bookmaking treasures. Cass’ kits and online sessions are excellent and it’s been a great way to try out different styles of books at home. I’m always keen to try new styles of books and at the moment am exploring styles that would be best for my Celebrancy practice.

How have you gone on to apply the bookbinding skills you have learnt?
I was keen to find something I could give the couples and families I work with as a personalised keepsake of the collaboration and their ceremony. I really wanted something sustainable as I am aware that weddings and funerals can have a large carbon footprint so I didn’t want to use or create anything that would add to that.
Each book is unique to the couple, family, ceremony and can be used in any way they choose. I call them Wee Quairs (Quair is Old Scots for Book) and they can be used as a notebook for ceremony ideas and inspiration, poetry and planning. Some couples choose to use the Wee Quairs during the ceremony to read from or
to hold their rings.

At present, due to restrictions, couples can only have wedding ceremonies with only 5 people, the couple, two witnesses and myself so the books I am working on for March ceremonies will be filled with words and blessings from family and friends that cannot be present. I have some Celebration of Life ceremonies this year and plan to make a Book of Remembrance for the families to have available on the day of the memorial.

What creative projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on an envelope book just now which will be given to a couple who have had to postpone their wedding twice already. Some of the envelopes will be filled with letters, watercolours and poems from their children. This is what I love about Bookbinding and specifically Cass’ offerings. They are all so adaptable and can be used in multiple ways. I’m looking forward to Upcycled Bookbinding – The Next Chapter which starts this month. I am definitely hooked aren’t I…..

Do you have a favourite book that you have made?
I really enjoyed making the Accordion Book during the 5 week in person workshops at The Remakery. I realised then that what I enjoy the most is the construction aspect of bookbinding. 

Why is being creative and making things with your hands important to you?
For me it offers time to focus, to be quiet and in some ways to be present and absorbed. I find this relaxing and refreshing and it’s wonderful that you have an item at the end of it whether it is a book, a wreath, a flower crown or an item of clothing.

How can people find out more about your Celebrancy practice?
You’ll find me on Instagram at Soulful.Celebrant (press the button with Wee Quairs and you see some books) and I also have a website 

Thank you so much Andrea – it has been a joy getting to know you and see your books take shape. I love that your books are created with an individual or couple in mind, making them as unique as the person you’re gifting them too. What a special thing to receive and keep as a tangible memento of a special moment in time. 

Many of the bookbinding classes Andrea mentions are still available – you can see a full list of my online workshops here and my in-person workshops here.