Master Bookbinder at the Bulgarian National Crafts Chamber
I am fascinated by pre-printing press book structures and incorporate much of their valuable properties into my designs. I do my best to pay homage to the old Bulgarian decorative traditions and use them as a base. My biggest ambition is to continue to fuse my love for writing and bookbinding expertise with my father’s mastery of wood and silver to create contemporary but laden with history works of art and craft.
At the beginning of 2018, I was formally recognized by the Bulgarian National Craft Chamber as a master bookbinder. A goal I’ve been preparing for with constant trial and error, reading up literature and examining examples of bindings in our libraries’ special collections, trying to deconstruct the methods of their making.
My Father – Silversmith, Wood Carver and Gem Setter
My father joined the work in 2018 and in his small jeweler’s workshop, he creates unique pieces of jewelry, pens, corners, clasps and fittings from precious metals. His silversmithing story begins here in Sofia in the year 1992, soon after the fall of the communist regime. In search for work, he stumbled upon a small workshop creating silver pendants that was looking for apprentices. He learned the basics in his 3-year stay there but his peak was definitely when he began exploring his own artistic projects through our mutual work.
My Mother – Weaver, Knitter and Textile Artist
My mother started working with yarns and textiles from a very young age with the help of her grandmother, who was a master of such household crafts. Being her favorite apprentice, my mother was the only granddaughter from the family who had the privilege of inheriting the knowledge. For decades, she developed her skills in these fields but still only in the original home craft aspect, while professionally being engaged in other activities. The 2020 pandemic and our mutual conversations made my mother reevaluate her expertise and consider a more artistic pursuit of her skills in collaboration with me and my father.
Our artworks are always conceptually revolving around bottomless well of folklore and its decorative traditions, so abundant in our lands. We’re trying to tap into the mind of the simple villager from the past who had an an extraordinary tool set for creating symbols in the form of rituals and spiritual belief, a well as through their helpful objects in everyday life.
NEW BULGARIAN ART BINDING
Giving New Life to the Root
The works themselves are often beyond the realm of function and cautiously play with the boundaries of the book form. Through them we make an active dialogue with the past and a broken tradition. We create a tangible proposal on how it could be continued by being influenced not only by our national book treasures, but also the genius of the old Bulgarian master stonemasons, goldsmiths, carvers, potters, weavers and others.
This reimagining would not have been possible without the contribution of the many foreign master bookbinders who have developed this craft over the centuries in which we have not. We inevitably pay tribute to them in the most respectful way possible.
I cherish the old bindings, made in monasteries by self-taught scribes. They managed to produce beautiful books that remain intact even centuries later. I admire the scale of these works, their rough structure, sincerity and undeniable toughness. Each page of these books is handcrafted, either from parchment or handmade paper, each letter carefully written, forever encapsulating the personal touch if its maker. I strive to re-create this spirit in our artworks, altered by the time we live in, to give new breath to a severed tradition.
The rugged pieces of stationery are handcrafted with longevity and significance in mind. We embrace roughness in the design, as we believe it strengthens the connection between the book and person. Each of us finds ourselves in the positive as well as the negative. Our clients are visionaries who wish to leave a trace of their history and accomplishments for the generations ahead. Our works help to create a very personal heritage piece, worthy of passing down.
The Heart of Our Craft Work
Our wish is for the blank book to be yet again part of daily leisure. Strength and beauty are always at the forefront of our designs. Such ambitions leave little room for compromise. Me and my father share a passion for historical methods of working, meaning mostly with our hands and various useful hand tools, tried and tested for their effectiveness centuries ago.
Giving Life to the Experience
These dip pens and writing sets are the perfect companion for a passionate writer or calligrapher. We strive to create them beautiful and comfortable. For this reason, we listen to our customers’ habits and preferences when using a pen to help us provide the perfect writing tool for a particular hand.
The wood is cut and sculpted by hand with files or by a lathe. When the shape is done, a silver fitting is designed and executed to adorn and balance the pen. The wood is treated with a special selection of natural oils and waxes and some are finished with layers of shellac lacquer. The pens can adopt any nib with a standard 5 mm size. Providing choice and comfort to the customer. As with our books, each pen is a unique piece of work, never to be replicated.
Leaving Your Mark
The Woven Scrolls Bookmarks are my mother’s contribution to the trinity of writing that is the Books, Pens and Bookmarks.
They are made using various techniques, including tablet weaving, inkle loom weaving and other traditional belt making techniques, depending on the project. The inspirations behind them are sometimes from traditional motifs, sometimes formed free from the imagination. The works themselves are not traditional but rather my mother’s signature artistry. She is very playful with colors and mixes them in sometimes unorthodox but always exciting ways. Often the designs are made in collaboration with my father, who carves wooden or silver inlaid ends for the weaves.