Éilís at work
Objects of beauty
“The beauty of bookbinding for me is that I can use traditional techniques that remain unchanged for centuries, but combined with a contemporary design and my own artistic innovation,” says bookbinder and artist Éilís Murphy.
“Books are objects of beauty, so much more than the content within. Every handmade book has its own character.”
When Éilís creates a book or box she uses techniques faithful to age-old traditions and proven by centuries of use. Her books are bound to last a lifetime, thanks to stable structures and the highest-quality materials available. Her papers – whether imported from Italy, Nepal or Japan, or hand-marbled by Éilís herself – are acid-free. Her book-board is wood-free and archival, and her paste and glues are of conservation level.
A collaboration with you the client
Creating a unique, handmade book is a process of collaboration between Éilís and you the client. “I put great emphasis on listening, and I love incorporating the client’s ideas into the work, piecing together snippets from their lives and tying them together in the final creation.”
“For example, I can make traditional paste paper for the cover of a guest book that matches the interior design of your hotel or home. I can design and lay out the contents of your memory book, as well as scanning and even colour-correcting old photographs you send me. I can incorporate a personal motif as an embossed shape in the book cloth of an archival storage box. I can use the petals from the flowers in a wedding bouquet to create end-papers in a wedding photo album. I can devise unorthodox artist’s book structures in collaboration with artists. The possibilities are endless.”
You can customise the product – the colour, design, format, binding, the cover paper – according to personal tastes and quirks. But if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want, Éilís will use her expertise and artistic sensibility to guide you. “It’s up to you how involved you want to be in the process,” she says.
The perfect union of creativity and mechanics
“How things work has always held a fascination for me,” says Éilís. “I love to create by combining materials and processes in an unconventional way, so when I studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, I was drawn to printmaking as it was the perfect union of creativity and mechanics.”
In 2003 an American bookbinder came to the college and taught a module in bookbinding. “I was hooked. I applied for an internship that summer at the prestigious Center for Book Arts in New York and spent three months as an apprentice to Roni Gross.”
Éilís has been binding books ever since and along the way has trained with the Society of Bookbinders (UK), Frauke Schroeder (Berlin) and West Dean College (UK), and has volunteered with the Paper Conservation Department in the National Gallery of Ireland.
Éilís is a member of the Society of Bookbinders (UK), the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, the Graphic Studio Dublin and Visual Artists’ Ireland. She lives and works in the Burren in the west of Ireland.