There is something delicious about small boxes. I became a woodworker because I wanted my father to teach me how to make chairs.
He and I shared a workshop, and he taught me a lot. He is a tool maker, and made a lot of the machinery and jigs we used.
Those were great times, making frames and then discovering the joys of boxes. I love small things, small places in which you can hide stuff. I taught myself with books, my very first one being Andrew Crawford’s “Book of boxes”.
I have always had wild ideas about spaces; I like to find hidey holes, and crazy but useful shapes. After all, the boxes needed to be useful. But I digress. As the years moved on, and I had a little shop of my own, my life changed, as life does, I found myself without a workshop, without inspiration.
A course was on offer at the local technical college. It was during the day, which suited me, and I met Neale Wootton, who has become a mentor to me over the years. I think upon those classes with fond memories; he had a great plan and dry sense of humour. He was a bit scary, in that very knowledgeable kind of way.
That course opened a magical door. It was very exciting to be able to make REAL books; books with cloth cases, not just sewn pamphlets. Since those early days I haven’t made as many books as I would have liked. I haven’t learnt many techniques either; as a bookbinder in a large institution, I now repair books.
However, I’ve just inherited the class at tech, and I will endeavour to instill in my students the inspiration that Neale instilled in me, and on the way I also hope to become a more imaginative binder. And I still make boxes.