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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A steel ruler, cutting board, sharp knives, and a strong cup of tea - those are just some of the tools of the trade for traditional bookbinder Gill Carlsson.

With 15 years of traditional bookbinding experience behind her, Gill is volunteering at Pompallier Mission in Russell over the summer break, demonstrating bookbinding techniques every Monday. Pompallier Misison is a Tohu Whenua cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

"There are a number of tools that are necessary for bookbinding. Besides obvious things like knives and cutting boards, there are tools that are used specifically for this work," says Gill.

"One of these is the bone folder - originally a flat shaped piece of bone which was used for fine finishing work like tucking flaps of paper and flattening. Another is the awl - a seriously effective looking darning needle used to stitch the pages to the book’s spine. The stitching is always linen because it is strong and durable."

The cup of strong tea is also important - and not just for sustenance according to Gill.

"One of the techniques with book art is to use a tea wash over a white page to give it an aged look," she says.

All this and more will be revealed as Gill demonstrates the craft of traditional bookbinding at the historic printery where Bishop Pompallier’s Marist brothers produced just under 40,000 bound books between 1842 and 1847.

Caption: Bookbinder Gill Carlsson demonstrates the bone folder - an important part of the bookbinder’s toolkit.

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