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Dominic Riley

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Dominic trained at the London College of Printing (1988-90), and spends his time restoring antiquarian books, creating design bindings for exhibitions and to commission, teaching and lecturing.

He has made about eighty design bindings to date. These are held in the British Library, the V&A, the St Bride Foundation, the National Library of Wales, the Rylands Library in Manchester, the Bodleian in Oxford, the Grolier Club in New York and the San Francisco Public Library. He has won over twenty prizes for his bindings, including first prize – the Paul Getty Award — in Designer Bookbinders’ International Competition in 2013. He has taught and lectured in the UK, USA, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. He spends his summer teaching at the San Francisco Center for the Book. He was elected Fellow of DB in 2009 and currently serves as President of the Society of Bookbinders.

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer
Kelmscott Press, 1896
Bound in 2016

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer 2
The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer
The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer

I received this copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer in 2011 with a view to creating a contemporary binding for it. I had one instruction from the client, which was to produce a binding that “Bernard Middleton would be proud that Dominic had executed and that William Morris would appreciate.”

The design is typographic, befitting the Kelmscott project — I created the large letters W and M in tribute to Morris’s own typography. It follows the schema of the book — a lot of black with thin red lines throughout.

The binding has been donated to the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

La Prose Transsibérien: Reproduction of the original book by Blaise Cendras and Sonia Delaunay, 1913
Two Hands Press, 2018
Bound in 2019

La Prose du Transsibérien 1
La Prose du Transsibérien

This extraordinary book is the result of years of research and execution by the remarkable Kitty Maryatt, bookbinder, printer and teacher. In addition to the limited edition, a few binders were commissioned to produce a design binding for the exhibition, Drop Dead Gorgeous, which is now touring the world. My copy was commissioned by collector Toby Schwartzburg of Berkeley, California.

Box construction: laminated cushioned boards and wooden spine. Spine covered in dark green goatskin, front cover red, back cover blue. Multi-coloured goatskin onlays, feathered and back-pared. Cover tooled with gold dots. Title on spine in the French style.

Book housed in clamshell box, titled. Booklet enclosed in card wrapper. Box and wrapper housed in separate slipcases. Slipcases housed in clamshell box, with title label.

My binding celebrates the colourful shapes in the pochoir. I love to use a lot of gold tooling to show of the binding: here I have used my trademark regular dot patterning, and bound the book in the ‘Paul Bonet’ format – a tribute the great French artist.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
Illustrated by Barry Moser
University of California, Berkeley Press, 1989
Bound in 2009

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 1

My most joyous binding, this was a commission for a collector in Texas, who works in the oil industry, so I decided to make the Emerald City an actual oil refinery. The multi-coloured onlays were made off the book and back-pared, then attached to the cover leather with the other solid onlays.

Real Life Brandon Taylor
Riverhead Books, 2020
Bound in 2020
Booker Prize for Fiction Shortlist binding

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

This is a beautifully wrought novel. Wallace is a young gay black man in a research position on a university campus, surrounded by ‘benign’ white colleagues, who, whilst being supportive, are also capable of casual prejudice and privilege. This behaviour can be stifling, and life is not easy for him. He carries out his research at the same time as he struggles with the difficult act of falling in love. It is not an easy journey.

I read the book twice, and tried to come up with an image that might capture the soul of the book. I hit upon the idea of snakes and ladders, a simple children’s game that is supposed to be a metaphor for real life: a role of the dice and a bit of luck can be the thing that decides whether you will succeed or fail.

In America, of course, the game is called ‘chutes and ladders’, so I tried to make the design something that could mean both. A bit of my culture, and a bit of Brandon’s.

I am so glad that I got this book to bind. As a gay man I identified with Wallace’s journey, as, no matter how privileged we are, we all face prejudice from many quarters. I cried at the end (always the measure of a good story), and hope that many will not only enjoy but also be inspired by the story of our lovely Wallace.


Email: dominicbookbinder@gmail.com
Accepts Commissions: Yes