Telling a story, by the book
Like a painting, a handcrafted book is worth a thousand words. And a beautifully handmade wedding guest book or photo album can be the perfect repository to preserve the pictures, well wishes, and treasures that tell the story of a couple’s journey into matrimony. On the Island there are two expert bookbinders who can build from scratch personalized wedding books and albums to commemorate your wedding day for years to come.
Jenni Bick Bookbinding
Vineyard Haven book artist Jenni Bick has a signature stitch: She sews the pages of her handcrafted tablets into the book’s spine rather than gluing them to the cover the way most store-bought volumes are made.
The self-taught artisan understands that people have their own signature styles as well, so she tailors wedding guest books and photo albums to match a couple’s personality. “The theme and mood of a book should reflect the bride and groom themselves,” Jenni says. “The book itself should help to tell a couple’s story.”
Take England’s Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, for example: Jenni made a white calfskin guest book embossed with gold lettering for the British Consulate in Orlando, Florida, in April to collect congratulatory notes for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s royal wedding. The book, like the couple itself, is classic, understated, and elegant.
At Jenni’s two-story, gray-shingled studio in Vineyard Haven, there is an abundance of options for personalization. She and her staff of seven can customize any book or album with etchings, dates, monograms, photos, and handmade pages. The studio also stocks designer guest books and photo albums that Jenni embellishes with ink, ribbon, beads, sparkles, and stamps.
Her most intriguing project: a custom guest book made with fabric from the mother of the bride’s own wedding dress.
“I find it really exciting when customers come to us and try to describe a vision they have,” says Jenni. ”We’re willing to work with couples to try to create something that reflects their unique style.”
Jenni’s collection of books and albums, priced between $50 and $200, are available for purchase online (www.jennibick.com). Couples can also schedule an appointment at her studio at 49 State Road in Vineyard Haven. Most orders ship within a week. 800-640-8758.
M.E. Pratt, Bookbinder
The Aquinnah bindery of book artist Mary Elizabeth “Mitzi” Pratt is stocked with more than just paper, leather, rulers, and glue. Antique stamps, remnants of wasps’ nests, snakeskin, lead, and canvas from the sails of a windmill are among the materials she employs in creating custom guest books and photo albums that are as varied as the brides and grooms for whom she designs them.
“Sometimes couples will want to match the book with the color scheme of their bridesmaid dresses, or they’ll want a wedding album made of this beautiful Indian silk that I laminate onto paper,” says Mitzi, who has been making books by hand for thirty-three years. “It’s really all up to the individual. That’s why I encourage people to make a visit. There’s a lot to be inspired by here.”
Mitzi gathers many of the materials that ornament her books and albums during her twice-yearly trips to flea markets in Europe. She also uses items couples bring in that are dear to their hearts. Among her favorite wedding designs is a book she adorned with the petals of a bride’s bouquet of hydrangeas.
Mitzi’s signature item is a book made in the rare nineteenth-century French dos-à-dos (back-to-back) style. The book, a popular wedding gift, is made of two writing tablets that share a cover. It’s designed for couples to write to one another in their designated his-and-her booklets. “It’s an obscure style that has a lot of charm,” she says.
Mitzi opens her year-round studio at 5 Moshup Trail by appointment, has a website that shows her work (www.meprattbookbinder.com), and generally requires a month’s notice to create a personalized book or album. She prices her books from $70 to $350, depending on size and materials. 917-670-7214.
[Originally published in the 2012 issue of Martha's Vineyard Magazine's Island Weddings.]