Award-winning bookbinder is reinventing craft

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 June 2015

Bookbinder, Manuel Mazzotti at the cutting machine in his studio in Hackney.

Bookbinder, Manuel Mazzotti at the cutting machine in his studio in Hackney.


A Stoke Newington bookbinder has been awarded a coveted scholarship from the Prince of Wales that will enable him to hone his craft in Switzerland.

Bookbinder, Manuel Mazzotti with finished books in his studio in Hackney.Bookbinder, Manuel Mazzotti with finished books in his studio in Hackney.

Manuel Mazzotti, 37, of Manor Road, was presented with the Clothworker’s Company Scholarship, on behalf of crafts charity, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QUEST) at a special ceremony in St James’ Palace.

He said: “I am really privileged and happy to receive the scholarship as it is the gift of time, which is a luxury in a particularly difficult time for craft makers to push our skills.

“I will be spending two weeks in Switzerland in November learning with Hedi Kyle, an American book artist; she is really well known for her pop-up origami structures.

“I would never have found the money to have a one-to-one with my favourite book artist; even if you earn it you tend to reinvest in your own businesses instead of taking such a big luxury to learn from your favourite craft master.

“Usually craft is associated with tradition, but in order to move forward you need time to explore things and learn.

“When you are a craftmaker you are busy making your living and you don’t have the luxury of time to explore new techniques.

“Having someone who is backing time and money in order for you develop your own skills is great and ensures that craft is not self repetitive – that there is a new way of exploring a traditional craft.”

Hailing from an engineering background, Manuel has only been bookbinding for five years.

The hobby quickly spiraled into a full business as he saw a gap in the market for the traditional craft to be revitalised.

Working from his studio, Manuel collaborates with artists, designers and book lovers to create bespoke, hand-bound books that push the boundaries of traditional design.

He said: “I am really interested in structure and folding, like origami, and applying that to bookbinding. Nowadays books are made by machines and they are all the same.

“A simple experience we all have is that they are different to open – if you open them flat they break because the spine is glued. A handmade book opens differently, you can lay it flat which is a simple thing that makes a huge difference in the object that you have – if it is a photographic book for example it can be a very meaningful experience.”

Manuel added: “My next aim is to bridge the gap between a publishing company and a bindery.

“I think there are a lot of self publishing platforms so if someone can just print 1,000 copies easily and cheaply it is great but at the same time, I feel the books can look the same. There is space to combine the service so that maybe out of 100 books, you can have 30 which are limited edition and unique.

“I am offering that service: you come to me with an idea, I can guide you through each step and make something really special.”

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