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Angela James

AJ Trans


Angela studied printed textile design at The Glasgow School of Art, taking bookbinding as a subsidiary subject. On graduating, she decided to pursue bookbinding and obtained a position at the Cockerell Bindery where she worked with James Brockman for two years, leaving for a brief spell to work in a famous Bath restaurant before re-joining James to help set up The Eddington Bindery. After 4 years there, she left to set up her own studio, first in Oxfordshire and then moving to North Yorkshire. Angela’s work focuses on design binding and artist’s books. She rarely uses ready-dyed leathers, preferring to dye them herself which gives her a much wider palette of colours. Angela’s recent work has explored the whole book from the printing to finished binding, using etching and letterpress. Living in rural North Yorkshire, her large garden and the surrounding countryside are a constant inspiration. She has organised the binding of the Booker Prize Shortlist since 1991 and also takes her turn at binding for the Booker.

Angela became a Fellow of DB in 1975 and was the President of Designer Bookbinders from 1990 – 1996. She won the Thomas Harrison Memorial Prize for Bookbinding (the forerunner of DB’s Bookbinding Competition) and Forwarding Prize in the Prix Paul Bonet and was selected for the Crafts Council Index of Selected Makers. She recently took part, as one of the selectors, in the Crafts Council’s first exhibition, The Maker’s Eye, when the gallery re-opened in 2021. She has bindings in numerous private and public collections worldwide, including the Royal Library of Sweden, The Royal Library in Copenhagen, The British Library, The V & A and libraries in North America and Australia.

Her publications include: ‘The Art of Binding Books’, The Fleece Press, 1991 and ‘The Handmade Book’, New Holland, 2000, co-editor of ‘The Bindings of Trevor Jones’ and she is a regular contributor to The New Bookbinder.

Folk Tales and Fairy Stories from India
Selected by Sudhin Ghose
Illustrated by Shrimati Carlile
Golden Cockerel Press, 1961
320 x 200 x 30 mm
Bound in 2016

Indian Folk Tales and Fairy Stories

Yellow airbrushed goatskin with hand-drawn and airbrushed back-pared onlays and printed onlay. Gold tooling. Airbrushed cobalt-blue calf doublures with back-pared onlays of drawn and goldleaf elephants.

The design is based on traditional Indian textiles as a metaphor for the way that folk tales are woven into the fabric of life and passed on through generations.

List of Wharfedale Flies by John Swarbrick
The Fleece Press, 2009
66 x 70 x 13 mm
Private collection

Fishing Flies SQ

Covered with yellow goatskin with back-pared onlays of speckled calf. Blocked with black and pearl foil. Coloured tooling doublures of speckled dyed goatskin. Folder covered with blue goatskin and lined with yellow goatskin to hold 2 fishing flies. Box covered with pale blue goatskin, blocked with a black fish.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak
Viking Press, 2019
Booker Prize Shortlisted binding 2019
205 x 135x 30 mm
Collection of the author

book binding materials

Covered in calf offset printed with a map of Istanbul and then airbrushed. Onlaid blue fish blocked with silver. 638 white dots tooled, orange circle tooled and stars tooled with 24carat moon gold leaf. Doublures of airbrushed calf with onlaid painted calf and gold leaf. White dots tooled.

The colours of the endpapers reflect the plaited bracelet of periwinkle blue, heather and dark cherry and mainly shades of purple are used throughout with touches of blue and fuchsia. The 5 stars represent the 5 friends; the orange circle can be Leila’s hula hoop or the symbol of captivity for a Yazidi girl or the symbol of freedom for a Western girl. The 638 white dots mark each second of 10 minutes and 38 seconds.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Caliban Press, New York, 2001
314 x 210 x 25 mm
Bound in 2012
Private collection

The Tempest

Calf spine airbrushed in several colours. Double board construction. Part covered in grey goatskin. Semi-circles of airbrushed turquoise blue calf, tooled with coloured metallic foils and ink drawing. Titanium semi circles inset. Lettered with French white gold leaf. Doublures painted with acrylics.

A Little Treachery by Libby Houston, illustrated by Julia Farrer
Circle Press, 1990
298 x 195 x 7 mm
Private collection


Grey goatskin. Inlaid calf panel, printed and airbrushed. Other inlays of hand-dyed calf. Airbrushed and inlaid leather doublures.

Sir Patrick Spens by Anon.
The Folio Society, 1994
Private collection


Printed and hand-coloured flyleaves. Acrylic-painted goatskin with onlays. Goldleaf covered onlay. Foil tooling. Doublures of black goatskin with inlaid moon.

The Birthday Party Box
An artist’s piece commissioned by Flow Gallery to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Artist/makers from many different disciplines were asked to make a place-setting for a large birthday party table.

For sale: £4200.00

Fold-out box covered with grey Holland linen. Lined with grey striped ticking. Various boxes of different sizes which together fit into the box. Each smaller box covered with pale blue/grey goatskin. Lettered on leather labels, machine stitched onto the covering leather. Each box contains printed 2-D food – e.g green salad, fish, raspberry tart etc. 2-D cutlery and plate. Printed cotton napkin. The ‘food’ inside each box can be taken out and arranged on the plate

Mr Kilburn’s Calicos by Gabriel Sempill and Simon Lawrence
The Fleece Press, 2014 – one of 300 copies
150 x 230 x 17 mm
Private collection

Mr Kilburn's Calicos

Covered in black goatskin with onlaid panels of airbrushed calf reflecting the colours of the illustrations. Lettered in black on spine. Airbushed goatskin doublures


Email: angelajamesbooks@aol.com
Accepts Commissions: Yes