Tanja Bolenz: Stonework, Calligraphy, Bookbinding


Tanja Bolenz was born in Germany in 1962 and emigrated to Vancouver BC, in 1980. After one year at Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, she returned to Germany and trained as a hand bookbinder with Siegfried Büge. In 1985, back in Vancouver, she opened her own bindery and worked in fine binding and restoration, as well as teaching bookbinding until 1994, when she went to Great Britain.

Calligraphy had been one of her primary interests since the mid-1980s. In 1994 Tanja enrolled at Roehampton Institute in London in order to study calligraphy in more depth. The curriculum included in depth analysis of Western scripts, as well as gilding, miniature painting and painted and experimental lettering. She graduated with a BA in Calligraphy (First Class Hons.) in 1997, and in 1998 was accepted as Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators (SSI) in London, UK.    

While at Roehampton she became interested in lettercarving in stone. This lead to a year and a half's period of work and study with the letter cutter and designer Tom Perkins in Cambridgeshire. To understand the three-dimensional qualities of stone in greater depth, in 1999 Tanja enrolled at Weymouth College, Dorset, for a two-year course in Applied Architectural Stone Work. At college, she produced varied pieces of masonry and architectural carving and lettering, both for course projects and commercial purposes. In 2001, she graduated with a Higher National Diploma. Following that she worked for 6 months with Alec Peever in Oxfordshire on a voluntary basis before returning to Canada in 2003. An offer to work with the renowned stonemason and carver Wolfgang Jakob in Gundelfingen, Germany brought her back to Europe in 2004. In the Summer of 2005 she gained her German journeyman diploma in stone masonry and carving from the Freiburg Handwerkskammer (Baden- Wurttemberg).

Tanja now works as a freelance craftswoman and is based near Machynlleth in mid Wales, UK.