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Rachel Ward-Sale


Rachel studied Art, Design and Bookbinding at The University of Brighton. In 2005 she was elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders and was President from 2019-2021, having just handed over the title to Lester Capon.

Since leaving college, she has worked as a self-employed bookbinder co-founding Bookbinders of Lewes in 1992. She undertakes a wide variety of projects and commissions as well as teaching bookbinding at her studio and other venues, including West Dean College, Chichester.

Although a large proportion of her current work involves the repair and rebinding of old books, her main interest remains centred around the creation of designed fine bindings.

Texture, both natural and manufactured, has been a recurring influence on her work. Recently she has been concentrating on this element of design, impressing found objects into leather creating unpredictable and tactile results.

Rachel’s work is represented in collections in the UK and abroad, including the Getty collection and the British Library.

Coming Home by Andrew Motion
Wood engravings by Jane Lydbury
Andrew J. Moorehouse, 2015, edition no, 18/75
263 x 163 x 15mm
Bound in 2021

For sale: £2400

The eight poems in this collection are all on the theme of modern warfare and its after effects, both mental and physical. The description of battle wounds and their treatment influenced my design, as did the final poem ‘The Gardner’ with its illustration of poppies on a soldier’s helmet. The dripped leather dyes pooling on the leather created red and brown circles, reminiscent of poppy fields. Frayed gauze bandages printed in dark red and brown continue the theme of injuries and treatment.

Bound in natural calf, drip dyed with spirit dyes then printed with frayed bandages. Incisions in the covering leather have been painted red, then backed with red tissue and the edges sewn together using dyed linen thread. The flyleaves and endpapers are natural Mingeishi paper, coloured and printed with frayed bandages in shades of red and brown.

The dark red suede doublures have been shot to reveal bright red Japanese paper underneath.

Dark red silk double core endbands match the coloured edges.

Flow by Philip Madden
Illustrated by Paul Kershaw
Grapho Editions, 2020, out of edition
327 x 215 x 20 mm
Bound in 2023

For sale: £2760

Bound with a folded velum spine and separate boards covered with panels of naturally patterned velum over painted paper. The sections are sewn directly onto the spine which is stitched to the boards. The doublures are dyed and cut paper with plant paper end papers and flyleaves.

The book is illustrated with striking abstract prints created using a variety of techniques, around the theme of water and riverscapes.

To avoid detracting from the illustrations I have used the natural markings and texture of the materials to create the design. Markings on the velum create landscapes and rivers, the only additional decoration are the reed shaped cuts in the velum and paper.

Poems by Ben Okri
Manuscript  hand-written by the author for the Royal Collection.
45 x 45 x 18mm
Bound in 2023
Royal Collection Trust

Bound using an open joint structure, the spine is covered with craquelle dyed calf, blocked with the authors initials. The sections are sewn onto dyed leather straps laced into the boards, which have been covered with dyed leather printed with leaf skeletons and stencilled with leaf shapes. Leaf shaped leather onlays gilded with green and yellow gold leaf have been impressed with leaf skeletons.

The endpapers and book edges are decorated with a stencilled pattern, airbrushed over leaf skeletons and the printed leather doublures are dyed brown.

Bound for The Royal Collections Trust to commemorate the centenary of Queen Mary’s Dolls House.

Avocet to Zander
Wood engravings by Anne Cathcart
Inky Parrot Press 110/112
162 x 117 x 10mm
Bound in 2022

For sale: £1200

Bound with acrylic boards incised with a guinea fowl feather design.

Sewn onto dyed velum straps attached to the boards using buttons made from guinea fowl feathers, laminated between velum and paper.

This animal A-Z is illustrated with black and white wood engravings echoed in the incised feathers, which suggest birds in flight.

Winter’s Tale
Photography by Neale Albert
Published by Neale Albert, Piccolo Press
80 x 70 x 35mm
Bound in 2022
Author’s collection

Printed in a concertina format with colour photographs of arranged flowers.
Bound with three overlapping boards, covered in fair calf, airbrushed with green and brown acrylic inks over pressed ferns. The lining is green Japanese paper airbrushed in dark green over ferns and the binding is fastened with a wooden peg.
The book is contained in a brown leather drawer box with the title blind tooled on the front and a wooden peg pull. Tree shaped leather covered panels on top protect and secure the book. The leather edged slip case is covered with the same airbrushed paper as the book linings.
The design reflects the title with images of ferns and trees in autumn and winter colours.

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout
Random House
204 x 184mm x 20mm
Bound in 2021
Property of Author (Booker Prize binding)

Bound in navy blue leather, onlaid with multi coloured rectangles and lines. The flyleaves and coloured edges are decorated with light blue stencilled lines. Pale blue suede doublures match the stencilling.

Using the grid layout of a DNA test, the design illustrates the journey from rural poverty, to urban affluence taken by the main characters in the book. Using the colours of the onlays, ranging from dark earthy colours to vibrant hues, the vertical design represents moving from dark low level rural dwellings to the tall bright skyscrapers of New York.

Wings Take Us by Phil Madden / Paul Kershaw Grapho Editions
272 x 194 x 10 in mm:
Bound in 2021
Private Collection

Bound using an open joint structure, sewn onto dyed vellum straps attached to the boards with leather strips. The Perspex boards have been incised on both sides with an overlapping feather design. Black endpapers with white Suminagashi marbling by Victoria Hall

The illustrations in this book of poems have been created using a range of techniques. Wood engraved images of birds are combined with printed wood grain and Suminagashi designs.
The incised feathers on the boards with subtle white on black marbling beneath continue the theme of the illustrations, remaining only partly visible when the book is open, they suggest falling feathers catching the light.

The Revelations of St John the Divine
Illustrated by Natalie D’Arbeloff
Old Stile Press, 1999
Edition: 144/150
350 x 248 x 20mm
Bound in 2020 Collection of the Clothworkers Company

The tryptic box construction which I used for this binding seemed appropriate for a religious text, as well as allowing the concertina text block to be displayed flat or fully extended. The box is covered in dyed natural goatskin gilded and impressed, with onlaid crosses of dyed and printed natural calf. The design wraps around the binding with the crosses echoed on the dyed paper flyleaf in sprinkled gold leaf.

The anger and fury in the text of Revelations is so vivid that it brought to mind the rantings of hate preachers and fanatics. The ritual of burning crosses, originally as a warning of danger, has been appropriated by extremists as a symbol of fear and oppression. However, in East Sussex burning crosses are carried during bonfire celebrations to commemorate religious martyrs burnt at the stake. The use of this potent symbol in conflicting roles made it seem appropriate for a design based on hatred versus forgiveness.

The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite by Homer, Translated by F.L. Lucas
Illustrated by Mark Severin
The Golden Cockerel Press, England 1948
Edition 111 of 750
322 x 197 x 14mm
Bound in 2016
Getty Library Collection

Bound with full linen board attachment. Panels of natural calf, dyed in earth tones and impressed or printed with fabric to recreate the textures and drawings on Greek vases, were applied to the binding, leaving areas of gilded paper visible underneath.

The dyed calf doublures with integral joints and Ingres paper flyleaves were also printed with fabric. The top edge gilding is original and the endbands are covered in yellow leather.

Inspired by broken Greek pottery, the design adapts the Japanese technique of “Kintsugi” (literally golden repair) where precious metals are applied to a repair to enhance it.

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Faber and Faber, 2020
198 x 128 x 50 mm
Bound in 2020
Property of the author (Booker binding)

Bound in dyed natural leather using a double board construction. The yellow edges and flyleaves have been decorated with green stencilled leaves based on the jacaranda trees which feature in the book. Double core endbands, sewn in multicoloured green silk threads match the edge decoration. Natural leather has been stippled with green dye for the spine and stencilled with leaf designs for the boards.

Additional designs on the binding reflect events in the book which affect the main character, Tambudzai. Onlaid leather circles are coloured to match her state of mind, red for the trauma of war, black for depression, blue for tears, purple and gold for her new lucrative job and grey for a final state of calm. The red line running around the book illustrates the tradition of burying a baby’s umbilical cord on their homestead to tie them to their place of birth.

Set in Zimbabwe in the 1990s, This Mournable Body follows the main character Tambudzai as her life slowly unravels during the unsettled years following independence. Her desired well-paid job does not bring her the rewards she feels she deserves and alienates her from her family and roots. After a series of crises she eventually finds peace by accepting her situation and connection to her past.


Email: rachel@bookbindersoflewes.co.uk
Website: https://bookbindersoflewes.co.uk
Instagram: @rachelward_sale
Accepts Commissions: Yes