Novella Bookbinding is Megan Turner-Jones, a talented young bookbinder who employs traditional skills to create gorgeous bespoke stationery, often in a contemporary style.
Collaborating with others and supporting fellow small businesses, is important to us at Kouamo. We met Megan at Cockpit Arts in London where Kouamo is based and where Novella Bookbinding was awarded a space though Cockpit’s Creative Careers Programme in partnership with The Prince’s Trust. We were immediately drawn to the beautiful craftsmanship of her work and have since collaborated on our ever expanding range of Kouamo Fabric Journals. We took this opportunity to find out more about Megan and her growing bindery:
What first drew you to the art of bookbinding Megan?
I studied illustration at Brighton University and stumbled on their bindery by chance. I feel incredibly lucky as it is rare now for universities to still have traditional bindery equipment in situ. I was immediately very drawn to the peaceful nature of bookbinding - the craftsmanship and beautiful old tools. I am largely self taught and thankfully I found that the process came quite naturally to me. It appeals to both my creative and meticulous nature - I enjoy inventing new structures and dimensions.
There is great skill and craftsmanship involved in your work and today you also teach others. How long does it take to create the Kouamo Fabric Journals and what are the steps in the process?
Image: Making process of Kouamo fabric journal
Bookbinding is a painstaking process and it takes me over a week to handcraft a small bespoke batch of journals in collaboration with Julie, who selects and cuts all of the Kouamo fabric to size. There are a great many steps in bookbinding - starting with cutting and folding the paper before it is handsewn with linen binders thread. The paper is cut with a huge guillotine, which I access in nearby Farringdon. I mainly use very traditional techniques, which have a lovely finish - such as strengthening the spine of the book with mull. Wrapping the cover in fabric is particularly skilled, although Kouamo fabrics have a beautiful quality which made this much easier and it was fun to work with so many different prints. Julie opted for some gorgeous finishes - such as an elastic loop, which I dig into the coverboard so it sits perfectly flush and curved corners for which I’ve created my own special technique.
Novella Bookbinding has an online shop and also create bespoke books. Aside from the Kouamo Fabric Journals which designs or collaborations are you most proud of and why?
Image: Colour Block Notebook in Lilac by Novella Bookbinding
I’m really proud of how my Colour Block Notebooks turned out. I had the idea in mind for a long time but they took ages to perfect. I wanted to match the colour paper to the fabric and ribbon perfectly and I even hand dye the thread to ensure everything is toned in one pure, coordinated block of colour. In terms of collaboration - I was excited to be be shortlisted for the Liberty Open Call and produced a series of books in their new season denim fabrics.
We are passionate about colour at Kouamo and there is also a strong sense of colour in your work. Can you describe your current favourite colour or colour palette?
Image: Notebooks by Novella Bookbinding in the new season Liberty Denim Print
I’m a bit of a split personality when it comes to colour - everything I own is either pastel or black. I nearly always wear monochrome but I do love colour. At the moment, of all the pastel shades, lilac is a favourite and it is also one of the most popular choices for the personalised notebooks I make.