iBB Podcast #2. Todd Davis / Middlesex Bindery – Bookbinding as a Third Career, Lockdown, Q&A

Our guest is Todd Davis, a bookbinder and book repair master from Boston. Todd has chosen bookbinding as his third career some six years ago and has been working in his studio in Lowell, MA, for the past four years. We talk about his path to bookbinding, his study at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. As well as the current state of affairs during the lockdown, and reply to several questions that were sent by the members of our community for the Q&A section of the podcast.

You’ll find the table of contents with timestamps below.

Our podcast’s next guest is Eliane Gomes, a Brazilian/Dutch book restorer and bookbinder from Haarlem, Netherlands. I already had several collaborations with her and posted a studio tour on iBookBinding.com.

We plan to talk about her past and current projects, important aspects of book restoration, and there will be a workshop tour as well.

If you’d like to ask Eliane some questions, just comment below. There will be a giveaway, and this time I’m offering a set of magnetic corner clamps for boxmaking. The person who asks a question that Eliane will like the most will get that set (worldwide shipping covered.)



Listen to this episode on:

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Discord — https://discord.gg/cxMw7x5

Follow Todd’s projects:
Website: https://middlesexbindery.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/llysenw/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MiddlesexBindery/

Todd’s Path to Bookbinding

00:26 – Beginning of Todd’s career in history and software engineering
04:20 – Making a decision to get a real job
06:00 – North Bennet Street School in Boston
06:41 – Getting all bookbindery equipment in one lot
08:45 – Four years in the studio doing bookbinding
09:11 – Sliding into being a full-time bookbinder / Being a student-worker at the North Bennet
10:25 – Having a second source of income as a cushion while shifting to becoming a full-time bookbinder
11:15 – Getting the first large orders for the bindery
11:55 – The lockdown
17:57 – Doing bindery at least some business from home
20:07 – How do the clients react to the delays due to the lockdown
24:16 – Todd’s plans on moving forward after the lockdown is lifted

A Bit of Show & Tell

31:09 – Making round wooden spines for boxes using basswood – tips & tricks
36:26 – 3d-printing round spines with plastic – iBookBinding experience
41:15 – My everlasting internal battle because of producing more plastic tools with 3d-printing
41:43 – 3d-printed papermaking molds from iBookBinding
42:10 – How is the shop doing during the lockdown?
44:00 – Tools for boxmaking and prices on the brass tools
47:46 – Having beer and pizza video chats with co-workers and fellow artisans


50:07 – Q&A begins!
50:56 – Question from Sofia: Which was the hardest restoration Todd has made, and why?
51:16 – Wedding album with laminated pages and masking tape repairs
53:44 – Duct tape Bible
55:44 – Books that Todd wasn’t able to repair
57:12 – Question from Sofia: Which materials Todd likes to work with?
57:21 – Back pared onlays
1:01:31 – Question from Justine about the irreversible mistakes
1:06:29 – Book repair, restoration, and conservation
1:08:29 – Being a bookbinder in Lowell vs being bookbinder in Boston
1:10:00 – Safety measures and super-sharp bookbinding tools
1:16:25 – Who would Tood like to see as future guests of the podcast

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