Sunday, 8 March 2015

The 4 Gospels, re-working the colour.

The base colours are added to with darker dyes. The depth I am looking for is that as the patina one finds on old paint work.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The (New) 4 Gospels. Leather on...

The craft side of bookbinding now steps back to let the art side step forward.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015


A little while ago one of my customers dropped in to the studio to pick up a small book. His grand daughter, a charming 7 year old, asked me what I did. In cases like this I find it best to ask what it is they think I do. After a little hesitation she replied "Artist" I had to smile and ask her why she did not think I am a bookbinder. With no hesitation she said "because none of your books are old, dirty and brown and I like the pictures"

Bookbinding in SW London.

Tuition and Much More
Bricolage bookbinding and book arts
 Creative and Traditional Portfolio Building
Sketch Books Etc

6 to 8.30 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday £25 per evening.

For further information please contact MARK COCKRAM
0208 5632158

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

New for 2015, the Studio 5 structured evening class.

You saw it here first....
The Studio 5 Structured evening Class.
Over 8 evenings students will be able to learn how to make 4 books. Ideal for the beginner or those just wanting to have fun. Details, evenings etc to follow very soon.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Monday, 26 January 2015

Codex 2015 Book Fair

All of the above will be on exhibition and for sale at Codex 2015.

Look out for Abby Schoolman for my and other binders work.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A Life Lived, David Sellars, Friend, Mentor, Bookbinder, Train Lover, Hi Fi Guru etc

It is with the deepest regret that I have been informed that David Sellars past away late last night. I had the pleasure to have known David from my very earliest days in bookbinding. Later he was my mentor when I was a Licentiate of Designer Bookbinders, becoming firm friends. I held/hold him in the deepest respect for his work and commitment to his art and craft. he gave so much to so many people. As a friend he was true.
His no nonsense approach, lively wit, art and understanding of his work reflected him so well. He gave 100%.
David lived life with a never ending verve. He was honest and when asked his opinion he gave it, he never sugar coated or aimed to please.
I will miss him but I have very fond memories, amongst many, of walking over bracken clad hills of his beloved Yorkshire to discuss books, life and beer in a string of pubs.
My thoughts are with family and friends.

David, thanks mate for a life lived.

To see some of David's last work please visit the Designer Bookbinders site and look under Booker Prize.…/bo…/booker_2014.html

Friday, 16 January 2015

Studio 5 One Day Workshop. No 2 Non Adhesive Binding.

 No 2, The Studio 5 one day workshop in non adhesive binding.
Students have the chance to make an elegant, non adhesive binding (approx 22cm x 12.5cm x 1.5cm) using, leather, vellum and paper made from old jeans (it is wonderful stuff) We start the day with sewing our sections and going through all the processes.
The one day workshop will be in Studio 5 (SW London) The workshop leader will be me (Mark Cockram) In addition to your book to take home the goody bag will include a pricker and flat pack sewing cradle. Oh yes and a day of the Studio 5 experience.... Now you are asking how much and when? £60 (this includes all tuition fees, materials, use of hand tools and indifferent tea, coffee and biscuits) and Saturday the 31st of January and Sunday the 1st of February. Only 4 places available on each day. First come, first served. Did I mention the indifferent tea, coffee and biscuits?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The 4 Gospels, final leather paring.

Final leather paring.

The leather is creased and given a memory along the joints with gentle strikes with a hammer.  


Then the joint area of the spine is pared down ... not to much as we still want to keep the strength but allow for flexing.  


Then more paring at the head and tail of the spine area, this is to allow for the leather that turns in... basically to keep the spine as smooth as possible.  


The final cut... a single cut to scollop and feather the turn-in at the head and tail. All simple and not a spoke shave in sight.

Monday, 12 January 2015

The new 4 Gospels, leather paring by hand.

Having finished the sanding of the boards and spine leather work begins. The leather, goat skin in this case, is first cut to size leaving a turn-in on all edges. This is the first time I get to feel the leather, how it handles, the quality etc. I begin with edge paring, taking off a slice of the leather from the back side at an angle.

I feel how the knife moves, the stiffer parts of the skin, I take note of all of this because it will effect how the leather handles when I come to pare the turn -ins down... the next job.

The turn-ins are reduced in thickness on the trusty Scharf-Fix, in this case to 0.5mm ( I use a micrometer )

Next the step is taken out. The step is the edge of where the body leather meets the turn-in leather.

The final part of this particular series of steps in my way of edge paring (there are many other ways) is to create a smooth transition from the body leather to the turn-in. To remove any trace of the step thus making the next processes easier.

The secret is a sharp knife... when you stop... strop and a steady hand. Oh yes, lots of practice, confidence and concentration.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The 4 Gospels, a new one.

This particular 4 Gospels is a speculative binding (not a commission)

Sketching out design ideas.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The 4 Gospels, a new binding.

 Forwarding, the construction of the book before decoration can and often does take time. So much effort that will never be seen. However the forwarding has to be as perfect as possible, any oddity or bump will only come to show later. Sewing to be consistent, edge decoration, end papers and end bands etc. The boards need to be attached with precision or the book will not stand. The spine to be secure yet flexible, so many things to do before one even touches leather.

Final sanding with back cornering, now to start finalising the design, to experiment with different elements. Let the fun begin.

Sunday, 28 December 2014



Introduction to typeset and 2 colour reduction Lino printing with the Adana 8/5 hand printing press.
The 3 day course is aimed at the beginner/improver/refresher/book artist.

Topics covered. Set up and printing with type and lino. Simple pagination, lino cutting and registration. Single section binding (including tips on edition binding)

Date. Saturday the 10th Saturday the 17th and the 24th of January 2015.

Only 2 spaces available.

For more details contact the studio.

Introduction to typeset and 2 colour reduction Lino printing with the Adana 8/5 hand printing press.
The 3 day course is aimed at the beginner/improver/refresher/book artist.

Topics covered. Set up and printing with type and lino. Simple pagination, lino cutting and registration. Single section binding (including tips on edition binding)

Date. Saturday the 10th Saturday the 17th and the 24th of January 2015.

Only 2 spaces available.

For more details contact the studio.


To be honest, I think every bookbinder/book artist has to have some experience of hand printing to truly understand the book.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Bad Boy....

Joseph Cornell Shadowplay Eterniday Completed.

I am happy to say that  Joseph Cornell Shadowplay Eterniday is now finished. The whole process has been very liberating. One of the keys to Cornell's work is play and I feel that I have certainly played with this book. When I have shown the students the book they begin to move the sand on the back board, to be transfixed by the sand revealing the eye.

The various elements of the binding come together, the colours and textures. The images and the forms.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Joseph Cornell Shadowplay Eterniday

Now that Joseph Cornell Shadowplay Eterniday (full title) is nearing completion I am able to stand back and look. Really look. From the outset I wanted to create a binding that evokes Cornell's work, not to just copy. It would have all to easy just to whack a couple of parrots on the cover in gold, perhaps turn one upside down (daring) and so on.
What I wanted to capture was more the theatre of Cornell's work within the book. To step away from the limitations of the cover, to expand and ignite interest.
Every time I pick the book up a new binding appears, the sound of the sand shifting, the text that is revealed at each turn of the head.
The back board invites us to play as a child would, tilting the book this way and that. Waves of sand cascade over the ridges, yet when the book stands the sand becomes a solid mass, the ridges cast shadows... we begin to play with light. The frame roughly cut, painted and sanded down many times is soft to the touch. We can run our hands over it. The unseen bumps and gentle undulations are sensitive perhaps warm. There are nooks and crannies, text and image is glimpsed, small sign posts.
The front board, with its half frame and map is perhaps more contemplative. The sand, with time, as it feeds from the yellow widow to the deep red window opens up to an eye. We let time slip through our minds eye. Again, there are those little echos and pointers. Read the book and the binding begins to give up its secrets.
Again our hands can understand what lies beneath the surface. Where the craft skills of the bookbinder need to be employed, then I have done what I can. However I have not sanded away the tiny imperfections, paper is layered, I have not hidden the working lines nor the intention that those layers make. The art is in the making but the appreciation is in the interaction with this book.
Taking time to interact with this binding is what it is all about. Yes it has a sculptural quality (but then so does every book) Yet. in the hand this book becomes alive and moves towards a new and ever changing theatre.

Cripes I go on a bit don't I...........

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Cornell, over the last few days.....

Now to move on to the front board. half framed, a twist. Like Cornell, throughout the binding I have used found materials, up-cycled and re-used. 

All morning looking at maps of France. So much time spent looking, testing and placement. I think very few people outside of our world understand that though the application can be quick, the preparation can take so long.

Still looking.