Tanja Bolenz: Stonework, Calligraphy, Bookbinding


My artistic journey as a bookbinder was initially inspired by the fact that my father was an antiquarian bookdealer. All during my childhood, I was surrounded by old books and prints, and was influenced by their presence. Books have always been like old friends to me.

In 1983, I began my studies with Siegfried Buege, a master-bookbinder in Germany. From him, I learned a variety of traditional bindings, in leather, parchment, cloth and paper. My training also took me to Switzerland, where I studied under Edwin Heim at the Centro del Bel Libro in Ascona. In North America, I studied with Daniel Kelm, Michael Wilcox and David Mowery. Now, as a teacher, I enjoy sharing my acquired bookbinding skills, and in this way I hope to keep the old traditions of fine bookbinding alive.

There are three primary reasons why I love to bind books:

  • I feel it is a privilege to help preserve bookbinding traditions, employing tools, materials and techniques that are often centuries old.

  • It gives me a great deal of pleasure to repair or restore books and thus make them usable again for their owners, or, in the case of rare and valuable volumes, to preserve them for posterity.

  • The vast variety of textures and colours of bookbinding materials are visually and tactually stimulating and inspire my creativity.

I continue to derive great satisfaction from learning new techniques, and refining learned techniques, constantly experimenting with different materials, textures and colours.