Studio visit with Bookbinder Gillian Stewart of Juju Books

We head to the East End of Glasgow to meet award-winning bookbinder Gillian Stewart and take a nosey around her studio space. Bookbinder, illustrator and all-round paper enthusiast Gillian founded Juju Books (@JuJu.Books) was in Glasgow in 2017.

During this studio visit Gillian will tour us around her space, talk a bit about her practice and her business and how she’s keeping busy at the moment before answering questions from the audience.

More about Gillian

After gaining a Design Degree from Glasgow School of Art and time spent training in a small commercial bindery, Gillian went on to become a prize-winning QEST Craft Scholar, studying from Master (and Mistress) bookbinders across Europe. Gillian is a Licentiate of Designer Bookbinders UK, and Chair of the Society of Bookbinders in Scotland.

Bookbinding is a craft that involves several processes; learned, practised and refined over time. We’re committed to continued learning and development of these skills, keeping them relevant and contemporary whilst honouring the tradition.

Introduce yourself

Hiya pals! I’m Gillian Stewart, a prize-winning bookbinder and QEST Craft Scholar. I’ll be taking over the Creative Entrepreneurs’ Club #Instagram to show you what I’ve been up to.

I work from my wee studio in Bridgeton in Glasgow’s East End, where I make bespoke books to commission for artists, designers and booklovers. ? I also create fine bindings of my own design, and when I’m able to I love sharing this endangered craft through teaching.

How did you start your career? ?

I graduated from Glasgow School of Art’s (@glasgowschoolart) Communication Design Department, and a few years later got a traineeship in a local #bindery.

I set out on my own in 2017, and went on to become a QEST Craft Scholar which allowed me to train with master bookbinders across Europe. I’ve been based in #Glasgow since the start, and have found it a really supportive place to figure out the weird and wonderful world of running a creative business.

Bookbinding is a craft that involves a diverse range of processes, tools, materials and skills, and it’s this diversity that keeps me curious. The above video shows a little of what goes in in the bindery.

As a designer-maker, I’m interested not only in the craft of bookbinding, but in the designs itself. I love when a client brings me an idea, and we can then work together to communicate the essence of the project through the use of materials and structure. These creative conversations and making-as-thinking is what keeps me going.

What have you learnt over the last few months? ?

Since starting 3 years ago, I can probably count on one hand the number of weekends I’ve had off, and holidays have been non-existent, so in some ways this situation has been a bit of a gift, allowing me to slow down. It’s been nice to stop, look after myself, and remember that I’m more than a bookbinder.

In the studio, it’s been a great opportunity to pick up personal projects that I didn’t have time for before. The space and time, without pressures of a deadline has been a real luxury, and something that I’m keen to bring into my life going forward.

Here’s a recent binding that was made under lockdown.

How do you stay motivated and inspired? ?

I’ve got an impatient and curious mind, which is in many ways why bookbinding is the perfect craft for me – diverse, difficult and with endless processes! I’m looking forward to much more exploring and experimenting with materials and processes.

I really love teaching, and having recently moved into a bigger studio, I’m very much looking forward to being able to have students back in to learn. At one point in the future I’d like to be able to take on an apprentice to pass on the craft to.

And I hope I’ll continue to be able to work with wonderful clients on interesting and challenging projects!

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