The Latest

Oct 1, 2014 / 5 notes

The House At Pooh Corner was in a rather pitiful state when I received it. Some of the pages were falling off and the spine was almost gone. There were pages which were held together with sellotape (or Scotch tape) and believed was put on during the 60s. The tape has gone really brittle and it left a yellow stain on the pages which could not be removed completely. 

I had a rather exciting time restoring this old beauty, going through each page, filled with little memories of those who once held it in their hands and read the lovely story of Winnie the Pooh. The book belongs to my customer’s mother and the year 1935 was written next to the name. 

With this restoration, this book is ready to be handled by many others, in its journey into the future. 

Sep 26, 2014 / 6 notes

A beautiful wedding proposal idea. Having the ring hidden in the pages of the book, a customer of mine had plans to write little messages and quotes that the couple used during their courtship days, which eventually, forms into a story that leads to the big question and the ring. 

Full leather fine binding using Harmatan Fine goat in Chocolate, and fair goat onlay with sunago gold leaf. My blessings to the couple, and girl, you are really lucky to have found this wonderful man, with this brilliant idea. 

Sep 21, 2014 / 4 notes

The 1914 Autographs Book, which I restored, using the Japanese technique of Kintsugi (金継ぎ), which accentuates the cracks in pottery by mending them with gold. This is to celebrate the history of the item, be it a bowl or a cup, and in this case, a book. The use of gold gives each crack and tear a story to tell, and the book a very unique character. 

Sep 15, 2014 / 2 notes

A treasured journal, commissioned by Clara for her good friend and colleague Chrissie, who was leaving Singapore after working together for many years. 

This full Harmatan Fine Goat bright pink leather binding had matching pink and grey hand coloured floatage endpapers, as well as five false raised bands to give the journal a very classic yet contemporary finish. Fair goat leather was used for the onlay of Chrissie’s initials. 

This journal was then calligraphed by Clarence of Craft Varies (http://craftvaries.com/) on various pages, before being passed on to over twenty colleagues who wrote special messages to Chrissie. 

Chrissie, all the best for your future endeavors and I am really delighted that one of my books will accompany you on your many journeys ahead. 

Sep 7, 2014 / 1 note

Autographs Book: A revival in the digital age. Among all the mass of things sold at a car boot sale in Chiswick this weekend, I was able to find this precious Autographs Book, that is a 100 years old. I was pleasantly surprised by the contents and how similar it was to what I had in my final year of Primary and Secondary school.

This Autographs book belonged to Sylvia Trussler, and was bought from A. W. Gamages in London. There were messages, riddles and little jokes written all over, even in the corners, as well as a lovely hand drawn picture of a canal. 

This is almost like what a customer of mine recently commissioned me to bind. It was a leather journal for her good friend and colleague who was leaving the country. And she had 30+ of their colleagues to write in this journal, filling it up with memories and stories. 

Unlike Facebook, the digital version of the Autographs Book, which will fade away like Friendster, along with your lovely birthday messages, photos and other bits of memories, an Autographs Book lasts for a long time. Well, this one did, and I am reading it now, a whole century later!

Sep 6, 2014 / 1 note

I was featured in Business Times Weekend in Singapore today, 6 September, and it is really wonderful seeing one of my books as the lead in on the cover page. The photos are taken by Louis, who is in Singapore right now, and I am glad that he was able to get a copy, as I am here in London still. 

A rather nice feature about books. And I love that the article ends with a quote from me. “When you hold a beautifully made book, you smell its leather, feel the ease of turning its pages and look at the whole theatre of its covers, endpapers and content. It is an amazing feeling of the book coming alive in your hands,” says Ms Koh. “It enhances the experience of reading its contents tremendously.”

Aug 3, 2014 / 3 notes

A Day of Wonderful Colours in Studio 5 today. This is a day of experiments and tests, to try out leather dyeing. Leathers, of course, comes in various colours and shades, but sometimes, getting the exact colour off the shelf might be tough. That’s why, we are all about getting that one of a kind, unique and “mono-dye” piece of leather. 

Egg trays are wonderful dye palettes, and in a way, it’s free with a dozen of eggs. 

Jul 30, 2014 / 2 notes

Single Letter Gilding Tools: Something that takes a lot of practice to use, and s actually one of the necessary tools to title books. Once heated, the tools are used either on hot foil, or with gold leaf. However, there is a need to first prepare the leather surface by paste-washing it and adding glare. 

Jul 28, 2014

I never thought I would ever own one of these wonderful machines, having always awed at Aya-sensei when I see her amazing work that was done on the Adana Eight Five. And never in my wildest dreams would I ever have dreamt that I would “inherit” one from my amazing tutor and mentor Mark Cockram. Of course, some form of exchange was done, but it is very mind-blowing what I can possibly do with this little red wonder. 

Now, it’s about dissembling it and packing it to be shipped back to Singapore. I am extremely meticulous in my bookbinding, and so am I in my packing. 

Jul 14, 2014 / 5 notes

A nice, warm and dry sunny day here in London, ideal to visit John Purcell Papers to get some supplies. I got some great quality kozo papers for repair and they are very, extremely expensive. I bought 25 sheets of 34gsm Kozo natural, which is 50% kozo and 50% pulp, and a roll of Kozo Thin 25gsm, which is 20% kozo and 80% pulp. 

Just as everything in life, take care of your books and they won’t require much repair, if not restoration is going to be quite an investment on the high side. 

Jul 13, 2014 / 5 notes

Studio 5 went outdoors on 12 July 2014, for the 40th annual Barnes Fair. It was a huge success, and of course, before all that could happen, a lot of sweat and muscle were needed to bring the laying press, nipping press and stock of books to the park, by the duck pond. 

I had a wonderful day, assisting Mark with the stall, as well as pulling in a crowd whenever he was doing a demonstration. What surprised me most, is that, for Mark, a veteran for almost 30 years, still get the same questions I get, and I’ve only been bookbinding for about 4 years. Things like “Bookbinding… do you do that for a living?” and “Can you earn anything from bookbinding?” were some of the questions asked. I must be prepared that 25 years into my career as a bookbinder, that will still be a common question.

I had great fun, regardless!

Jul 11, 2014 / 1 note

dddots is back at Studio 5, in London. Work has begun and it will be intense. My things just exploded onto the work bench, a new one for me, facing Mark while I work. How much better can it get? 

Jun 19, 2014 / 2 notes

Recently, a customer came to me, feeling really upset, that his bible of great sentimental value was coming apart. I gave it new spine linings using Calico from Japan, a nice new hollow, and full Chieftan goat leather binding, finished with a fair goat leather Celtic cross with sunago gold leaf. Filmed & edited by Louis Kwok (http://www.louiskwok.com)

Jun 10, 2014 / 2 notes

An interesting find at my Mum’s over the weekend. The National Library of Singapore has a clearance sale once every few years to sell off old books as well as raise funds to build more libraries in the newer neighbourhoods.

[The Bakerloo Flea] was one of the books I picked out. Written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Quentin Blake, who I adore so much. This book has been borrowed twice when library cards were filled out by the librarian, before it was digitalised. 

This book has been rebound by Asia Book-binding Co, which once was at 9K Kampong Eunos, Singapore 14! The post code used has only 2 digits, today it has 6 digits. I wonder what happened to the bindery. 

The re-enforcement sewing and the mull cloth used can be see on the utilitarian endpapers and buckram was used as the covering. I think this was once a paperback that suffered much that it required rebinding. 

Tempted to give this a design binding as well as a renewed life. Decisions. 

Jun 8, 2014 / 4 notes

A big welcome to Big Boy Press, which took 3 months to get back here from England, by ship. It weighs a hefty 200 kilograms, height of 75 centimetres. My partner, Louis and his good buddy Nicky took almost an hour to get it up into our flat. And now it still sits on the trolley we cart it around with, because it is just way too heavy for us to lift it up to any worktop. So for now, I shall be pressing my books, while sitting on the floor.