Gavin Rookledge is a bookbinder and owner of Rook’s Books, where he has been creating books and other leather-bound artefacts for over 30 years. Gavin says:
‘Since an early age I have always loved the process of making things with my hands. It seemed perfectly natural to combine this desire with my love for books.
Initially most of the books I made were to put my own work in (I trained to postgraduate level as both a fine artist and an outdoor sports instructor) and, despite a career during which I have made many thousands of books for other people, I still, on average, make at least one book every fortnight just for myself.
I am surrounded every day by hundreds and hundreds of books that I have both made and filled with writing, drawing and all sorts of different kinds of pasted in ephemera.
Almost all the books that I make are bound in leather; though only from the skins of animals that have been killed commercially for food (I do not work with ‘exotic' skins). These days, many of the books I make for myself are made from leather I have recycled from personal items such as bags, shoes, furniture and clothes that I have used myself.
Generally speaking my books have a very old, somewhat Gothic, feel to them. My company, which has been trading since 1987, most certainly has a ‘house style’. The books I produce do not conform to any historical style from an actual period of history. They are a response to my own idea of ‘bookishness’. It is important to me that my work is actually used and interacted with by the people who buy it and also that it is robust and will endure: ideally passing down through many, many pairs of hands over several generations.
I do not do book restoration work (repairing the work of other bookbinders); nor do I do rebinding of dissertations or many of the other similar, staple sources of revenue for other bookbinders. All the books I make are handmade, one-off items for specific clients that I have designed myself in keeping with the sort of ‘look’ I am drawn to when I envisage beautiful books.’