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Bookbinder of the Month: Sonya Sheats

June 16, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


Photo by Brandon Constant

5 Nouvelles Conjurations by Pierre Mrejen was bound by Sonya Sheats in 2010 and is the smallest book she’s ever bound at 8.5cm x 7cm (3.3″ x 2.7″). Bound as an open joint binding sewn onto eel skin and vellum tapes. The spine is brown goatskin with polycarbonate boards covered in frog skin and décor in snakeskin. Each cover uses one full frog skin.

Sonya’s use of exotic skins has become a signature in her work and one of the reasons why I love her bindings. 


Photo by Brandon Constant

Sonya originally bound this copy of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert in preparation for a décor class taught by Florent Rousseau. However, Sonya was displeased with the work she did and immediately reworked the binding once the class was over. Sonya cut off half of the buffalo on each cover and replaced it with new leather of a noticeably different grain. To hide the seam between the new and old leather, Sonya pared salmon skin to a lace-like thinness and place them over the seam as an onlay. The seam was still quite noticeable, so Sonya blind tooled a decorative fillet over the salmon.

A comment from Sonya: 
This book is the one that I receive the most inquiries about on my website and in my studio. It draws the most attention for some reason, though it was made from a series of impulsive decisions. All of the shades of pink and bordeaux come straight from the illustrations inside.

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  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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