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Christopher Shaw


Chris is a professional bookbinder and covers all aspects of bookbinding. He was elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 2004. Chris studied Fine Bookbinding & Restoration on the Diploma Course at Guildford College of Technology from 1980 – 1982. He established his workshop in 1982, first in Wootton-by-Woodstock and moved to his current address in Brackley, Northamptonshire in 1993.

He has won numerous prizes for his binding work in the Designer Bookbinders Annual Competition including: The Ted Womersley Award (1993), The Hewits Prize (1995), Highly Commended (1995 and 1996), The Elizabeth Greenhill Award (1995, 2000, 2002 and 2003), Finishing Prize (1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000).

He was also one of the twenty five distinguished winners of the 2017 Designer Bookbinder International Competition, and he won the Sussex Lustreware tooling mug in 2019.

Chris is also one of the experts on the BBC’s The Repair Shop, “Nestled deep in the British countryside is The Repair Shop, where a team of Britain’s most skilled and caring craftspeople rescue and resurrect items their owners thought were beyond saving. Together they transform priceless pieces of family history and bring loved, but broken treasures, and the memories they hold, back to life.” The Repair Shop is filmed at Weald and Downland Living Museum in Singleton, West Sussex. The Court Barn is the principal setting, though some repairs are carried out in the Victorian smithy and nearby wagon shed.

Tooled Thistle Detail

The Abstract Garden by Philip Gross
Images by Peter Reddick
The Old Stile Press, 2006
Bound in 2015

Harmatan goatskin, J & J Jeffery endpapers. Each flower design built up from a combination of hand tools.

The word, the image, and the space between . . .

Like prints that trail off in a swirl of snow
what’s meant is more than it was meant to mean
– by us, at least

The first ‘poem-by-way-of-a-preface’ implies that this book is a three-way collaboration of the words (the poet’s) and the images (the engraver’s) and the space between (the printer/designer).

On this occasion, it is not just one art form responding to another. Sometimes a poem responded to a visual image, sometimes vice versa; many pages are more collaborative still, with a sketch from one prompting a draft from the other, worked up to a finished picture and redrafted poem once the printer’s hand has set them in their space. Poppies, trees, fire, natural forms all excite the different forms of expression found here.

Peter Reddick was, for many years, one of the most highly regarded of British wood engravers and his work has appeared in many Penguin books, those of the Folio Society and Limited Editions Club, New York. He has inspired students not only in Glasgow and Bristol but further afield in Ghana and he was the founder of Spike Island, the lively Bristol Printmaking studio.

Philip Gross is a renowned poet and successful writer of thrilling and challenging novels for young people, of plays, science fiction and radio short stories. ‘ . . he should be recognised as one of England’s very best poets . . . for the exuberance of his imagination.'(TLS). He is currently Professor of Creative writing at the University of Glamorgan.

Mrs Mole by Ronald Searle
Artists’ Choice Editions, Church Hanborough, Oxford, 2011
Bound in 2017

Both volumes bound in matching but dissimilar full scarf jointed crimson and blue Harmatan goatskin; crimson, blue and grey full-thickness goatskin onlays in recessed panels edged in raw sienna acrylic. Doublures of grey goatskin; flyleaves of crimson suede and grey silk thread paper. Top edges gilt. Gold and blind tooling.

Box of black buckram with felt linings, lettered in gold on grey leather set into the recessed panel.

Transferware Treasures Watercolours by Emily Sutton
Simon Lawrence, The Fleece Press, Upper Denby, 2014
One of 250 copies, signed by Emily Sutton

A series of 25 watercolours by Emily Sutton, depicting her interest in Victorian transfer-printed ceramics (plates, mugs and jugs) found on her dresser.

Born in 1983, Sutton grew up in North Yorkshire. She studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with a BA in 2008. She has illustrated books for the V&A Museum, Faber&Faber, Random House, Penguin and Walker Books and undertaken commissions for brands such as Fortnum & Mason and Betty’s of Harrogate. Her most recent publication is a collaboration with Paddington Bear author, Michael Bond, The Tale of the Castle Mice.

The idea for the design was to create a sympathetic interpretation of Emily’s repeat-pattern backgrounds that feature in these paintings, using the decorative method of gold tooling. Covered in maroon Harmatan goatskin with onlays of black Harmatan goatskin and tooled in 23 carat gold leaf. Circular black goatskin title label on front board, with multi-coloured onlays and gold lettering. J & J Jeffery pastepaper pastedowns with leather joints. All three edges of the book gilded. The book also contains a totally unique charming watercolour by Emily Sutton, depicting a transferware cup, especially commissioned for inclusion inthe binding, together with a note.

Four individual hand tools were repeated over 600 times in the gold tooling of the design. There are approx. 170 black onlays – not including the title label!

Gold-tooling detail of a character

Topiary An Historical Diversion by Cecil Stewart
Engravings by Peter Barker-Mill
The Golden Cockerel Press, 1954
No.237 of 500 copies, on hand-made paper
253 x 190 x 12mm
Bound in 2018

J & J Jeffery pastepaper endpapers, covered in Harmatan green goatskin with onlays of another Harmatan green. Tooled in 23 carat gold leaf. Leather joints. All 3 edges of the book gilded. Circular green goatskin title label on front board with onlays depicting a leafy crowing cockerel.

The main overall design was built up in gold using 2 lozenge hand tools and a single hand tool repeated over 500 times. The idea was to create a graphic interpretation of shapes often used in topiary.

Hansel & Gretel Reimagined, A Picture Book by Clive Hicks-Jenkins (detail)
Random Spectacular, 2012

The binding is housed in a solander box covered in scarlet Harmatan goatskin tooled in 23 carat gold leaf.

Folk art inspired Scrapbook
Bound in 2017

Folk art inspired Scrapbook

Teal Harmatan goatskin, Mark Hearld decorative papers used throughout.


Email: christopher-shaw1@hotmail.co.uk
Instagram: @christophershawbookbinder
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Twitter: @bookbindershaw
Accepts Commissions: No