Driftwood days

April 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

Bookbinders started to appear in twos and threes off the ferry from mid-afternoon on March 7th. John took care of the luggage while the rest of us ambled past the abbey along to the north end. The hostel was waiting, all welcoming and warm, with tea in the pot.



The following morning, having unpacked cutting mats, laid out pencil cases and started in on some preparatory folding, we bundled into coats and wellies and went outside. Our host, John showed us round the croft, sharing a wealth of knowledge about the age of rocks, Gaelic names and the Spring of Eternal Youth (amongst other things.)


John gives a tour of Lagandorain flora, fauna and geology in a very cold wind. The hat-wearers were glad.

Then back to folding and slitting, cutting large sheets of creamy cartridge down to size and into sections.


Collating pages

Fortunately the rigorous work schedule was regularly interrupted by a tall man bearing cake, caringly baked by Anja. Thank you Anja!


Our Daily Cake

Everybody had beach-combed for suitable bits of driftwood. There was much swapping and trading-in and assessing the grain. Once decisions about book proportion had been decided, the multi-skilled John jigsawed and drilled. I am not allowed to show the picture of how his tongue sticks out when he’s concentrating. Thank goodness for gloves. It was chilly in that barn.


Marking drill holes

From the way Kate’s wooden bits overlap in a double layer, you can tell it is from a naval boat. Cross-planking. Apparently.


A custom cover

Back to the dining table come studio bench, it was time to start compiling content, prompted by a list of sixteen triggers. Each could be very loosely interpreted or combined with another or quietly ignored. I just didn’t want anyone to feel stuck.


Collage cunning

In between bouts of intensive attentive tuition there was opportunity to read the first International edition of Flow magazine. Full of mindfulness and merriment.


Taking over the table

Ah! Cake o’ Clock….


With glitter!

Since Iona Abbey is believed to have been where the Book of Kells was created by monks, we arranged a special visit to the tiny cabin-like library. John had brought a facsimile to show us, as the original is safe in Dublin. Isn’t it an artist’s book?! I love thinking about how the manuscript was illuminated in a special scriptorium.

Inside the abbey

Inside the abbey, among the cloisters

We sat on these beautifully tapestried chairs and listened to poetry in quiet contemplation.


Missoni-like seating in the Abbey Library

The paper cutting continued, as did painting, writing, rubbing, story-telling and mapping….

Jo's fictional phases of the moon

Jo’s fictional phases of the moon

Then it was time to sew, which is tricky with rough driftwood covers, and coptic stitch challenges anyone’s tension. These binders remained calm throughout. Must have been the spiritual surroundings. And the carbohydrates.


Binding undaunted by curious shaped covers

What Kate Did.


Island words

What Kate Did Next.


Inspired by film night: I know where i’m going!

A fine spine from Jo:


Chunky coptic

Everyone kept a ‘thoughts-in-progress’ book. Handbound, natch.


Jill’s notebook

Emma’s book is EPIC!


Chunkier coptic

Calligraphic wonderfulness from the pen of Jill Calder;


Words from the zen stone carving outside the hostel set down on the page

Too soon the day of departure is upon us, clear and bright.


Pier silhouettes

Weighed down with pebbles, good memories and bespoke bindings….




Farewell fair Iona!


Kate’s collage

Thank you kind John at Iona Hostel. Please can we come again?


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