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News report- Meet one of our professional book restorers


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.