I spent a lovely afternoon with Paul and Abigail Vogel in their East Hampton, New York studio, Vogel Bindery, to learn about the art of custom book binding for a story I wrote for CharlotteMoss.com. Here’s an excerpt:
After studying art at New York’s Pratt Institute, Paul Vogel spent several years in Europe where he came across the still-very-much-alive practice of book binding. To extend his stay in Britain, he took a job working alongside a binder, learning the skills he’d later use to launch his own bindery in Manhattan in 1980. Two of his earliest clients were Harper Collins and the Forbes family and he’s been filling elaborate custom orders for individuals, book dealers and publishers ever since.
“Paul is a most extraordinary bookbinder, perhaps the best in America,” says book dealer Kinsey Marable. “I only use Paul, from binding a client’s high-school scrapbook to building leather boxes to individually house and conserve an entire Pulitzer Prize collection.”
Vogel says he’s constantly posed with fresh challenges, and he enjoys the satisfaction of coming up with creative solutions; maybe it’s incorporating objects into a book one day and creating elaborate leather inlay cover designs the next. “It’s one of the few instances of work where you have a beginning, middle, and you’re actually holding the finished product at the end. And it all happens in our studio,” he says. And unlike other careers in art, “It’s not theoretical; these books will be used and handled for generations.”