The women re­viv­ing tra­di­tional crafts

In a time of mass pro­duc­tion, we meet three women keep­ing old-fash­ioned trades alive

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Contents -

Marysa de Veer, 53, Sus­sex

Hold­ing the an­cient text in my hand, I imag­ine the orig­i­nal binder who set its pages in their leather cover, em­bossed the edges and cre­ated a book so spe­cial that over 100 years later its owner is still tak­ing care to pre­serve it for the fu­ture. My job is to res­tore the book, with an eye on con­ser­va­tion, to en­sure my work is un­der­stood by a binder in a cen­tury’s time.

Grow­ing up, I was al­ways into crafts like paint­ing and weav­ing. But when I left school in 1986 I took up a sec­re­tar­ial role at an ad­ver­tis­ing agency. It was well-paid, but by the

age of 23 I felt un­ful­filled.

So my hus­band Thomas sug­gested I look into lo­cal

craft cour­ses. Af­ter find­ing one on book­bind­ing run by an amaz­ing book­binder called Mau­reen Duke, I quit my job and signed up.

I com­pleted the course in 1989, then worked for two months at Wind­sor Cas­tle, where I re­stored the Queen Mother’s vicar’s bible and even re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion to meet the Queen Mother dur­ing a Sun­day matins ser­vice. Af­ter­wards, I con­tin­ued to train – knock­ing on the doors of other binders and learn­ing as I went. Then in 1993, aged 28, I set up my own busi­ness, Ot­ter Book­bind­ing in Ot­ter­shaw. Now, as well as bind­ing,

I run monthly classes.

My projects range from restora­tion – re­plac­ing cloth joints, or adding new leather un­der old – to fam­ily bibles, photo al­bums and mem­oirs. In an era in which you can up­load and print what­ever you wish, my job may seems old-fash­ioned. But how many peo­ple can say cen­turies from now their work will still be ap­pre­ci­ated? What I of­fer is a more tac­tile, per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence – some­thing al­to­gether more pre­cious.

'My work will still be ap­pre­ci­ated cen­turies from now'

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit ot­ter­book­bind­ing.com

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