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Nashville, Tennessee 37211

Crowing Hens Bindery is a one-woman bindery and letterpress print shop, selling handmade blank books, letterpress printed stationery, limited edition fine art prints, unique book jewelry & letterpress printed decorative papers. As the owner of a Nashville-based private business, I do my best to honor the heritage of fine craft and art that saturates my community and region. All of my products are designed and made by hand in Nashville, Tennessee from high quality materials available using traditional bookbinding techniques. I aspire to create beautiful, useful work that becomes a part of your everyday life.

Blog

Bookbinding, printmaking, and toolmaking are elements of my business and my profession but they're not necessarily in step with today's fast paced digital culture. 

This blog, "Meet Mary" will be an opportunity for me to demystify my work and allow me to describe my products and their manufacture in greater detail. Whether I'm working on a production run for a new run of springbacks, developing a new line of decorative papers, or experimenting with new techniques or materials for boutique tools, my goal is for you to be able to see my work in progress and get to know me as a person, craftsman, and small business owner.

Making the Rules

Mary Sullivan

I work with a variety of clients. Some of my clients commission custom books, decorative papers, specialty tools, and ex libris while others come to me for rules  ruled paper, that is.

As many bookbinders know, high-quality blank paper is readily available but very few options exist for bookbinders who want ruled pages of the same caliber. At Crowing Hens Bindery, I've solved this dilemma by making my own ruled papers by hand. I also work directly with clients to design custom pages either to satisfy a book commission that I bind in house or for bookbinders to use in their own work.

By drafting my page designs by hand, I am able to capture the organic qualities of the drawn line.

By drafting my page designs by hand, I am able to capture the organic qualities of the drawn line.

One of my latest commissions was from my good friend Dave Rollins, owner of Black Magic Bindery, a fellow full-service bindery located in Iowa City, IA. Dave uses his supernatural powers to conjure custom codices imbued with spellbinding craftsmanship. One of his latest commissions is for the second annual GeeklyCon, taking place this year during the first week in June in Louisville, KY. To make these books all the more enchanting for his Geekly warlock chums, he commissioned me to design custom-ruled pages to suit the occasion.

Light blue rules and Gill Sans on Mohawk Superfine natural text make an enchanting combination.

Light blue rules and Gill Sans on Mohawk Superfine natural text make an enchanting combination.

As with all of my ruled pages, each design is first drawn by hand, a process that gives me more control over the design and one that maintains the charming characteristics of the drawn line, as opposed to the robotic sterility of a digitally designed page. I then digitally color it, add text if necessary, and then using Mohawk Superfine papers, I print the pages on our high-resolution color laser printer. As a bookbinder, I know that simply printing lines on paper is not enough. For the paper to be serviceable for a binder, it is important that the paper be right grain, that it be archival, that the ink be colorfast, and that the paper be large enough to account for trimming.

My custom pages in the hands of mage binder Dave Rollins of Black Magic Bindery. Photo courtesy of Black Magic Bindery.

My custom pages in the hands of mage binder Dave Rollins of Black Magic Bindery. Photo courtesy of Black Magic Bindery.

And now with the papers in hand at Black Magic Bindery, all I can do is wait to witness what wizardry will occur when runic ruled pages meet forwarding sorcerer. All I can say is, "ABRACADABRA!"

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