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Source: Wangaratta Chronicle Newspaper
Ancient skills help preserve a family relic
Date: Mar. 4, 2020
A local practitioner in the ancient art of traditional bookbinding will showcase the lost trade during a demonstration day being held at the Wangaratta Library this month.
Hosting the session will be bookbinder and restorer Chi Chi Wang who has offered to advise and assess people’s heirloom books and historic documents during her visit.
Chi Chi said she will answer questions about bookbinding, assess books in need of repair and provide advice on how to care and store books to ensure their safety.
“Traditional bookbinding is a specialised field where books are made and restored all by hand using the methods and techniques of the ancient artisans,” she said.
“Most bookbinding over the past few decades has changed to mechanic binding leaving traditional bookbinders scarce, which is why they are now classed as a lost trade.”
One of Chi Chi’s most recent projects has been the restoration of a family bible for local identity Margot Colson, who appreciated not having to send her precious book away to Sydney.
It has also now been placed in a special archival box to ensure its safety for the next 150 years.
“It gave me great satisfaction,” said Chi Chi.
“The 1850 bible contained the Hughes’ family history dating back six generations and it was Margot’s wish to pass it onto her son, Jeffrey and his family.”
Chi Chi has also restored a book which was a cultural treasure; remembering a local pioneer’s life, written as a stanza poem, which recounted his experiences and hardships during settlement.
She said the pages were old and in disarray with copious amounts of sticky tape holding the torn pages together.
“My work can be so rewarding - saving such an historic document from certain ruin and collapse which sees many destined for the rubbish bin,” she said.
“Too many of our books, journals, family bibles and records are being discarded or left to rot when they can be saved for future generations and our collective history.
“My passion is to save these books before it is too late.”
On display at the exhibition will be some of the specialised tools used for bookbinding and leather gold tooling, stationery art and examples of before and after restorations.
The exhibition will be held on Wednesday, March 11 from 1pm to 7.30pm, assessments are free and more information is available at www. traditionalbookbinding.com.au.
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