How did you start making books? People often ask me and I usually have a short version of how it all began. The long version goes something like this: It was senior year in college and I had a library carrel to write my senior thesis. The topic was deadly boring – something about prostitutes in Scotland. Anyway, I was often restless and started wandering the surrounding stacks. I found this book “The Restoration of Leather Bindings” by Bernard Middelton. It looked interesting but I did not identify with book conservation from reading a book. So I did not think about it again for a long while.
Fast forward to a few months after graduation. Needless to say my history degree and knowledge of Scottish prostitutes did not immediately translate into hot job opportunities. However I was and am fortunate to live in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Institution had a bookbinding class. I signed up and it was terrific. The Middelton book made sense – bookbinding was fun! My teacher recommended conservation classes with Tom Albro, who was then Chief of Conservation at the Library of Congress.
I worked in conservation at Georgetown University for five years while going to library school. It was great but I wanted to try my hand at being a reference librarian. Also a great profession but I missed the hands on aspect of conservation. I also realized I had amassed multiple drawers of handmade and decorative paper. What to do with it all? So I started making blank books. Then I found out about Etsy (an online marketplace for buying and selling handmade items) and opened a little bookbinding shop – Moonlight Bindery. I love it and am having fun!