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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.

Welcome back, #Booktober

Mary Sullivan

Every year when the leaves begin to turn, the air becomes crisp, and we wait for morning frost on the grass, I know we've come to my favorite month of the year, October! Why October? Well, it's birthday month for me and my two siblings and Mom makes the most incredible chocolate chip cookies ever—that is if she can keep us from eating all of the dough first!

Plus, there's Halloween. Love Halloween. I can also start to at least think about digging out my sweaters and scarves, make a list of the things that I could knit (but never seem to have time to) and then, of course, I bind a lot of books. I mean A LOT of books. I call this time Booktober.

My absolute favorite binding is the Springback binding. This is a demonstration of how a springback operates before the custom laminated card spring and split boards are covered by leather and decorative papers. 

My absolute favorite binding is the Springback binding. This is a demonstration of how a springback operates before the custom laminated card spring and split boards are covered by leather and decorative papers. 

Right around October, for those of you who aren't in the craft/trade show circuit, you may not know is that there's a short lull between the slew of shows during the hottest, miserable months of the year and the gradual pedal-to-the-metal snowballing of shows that begin to fill nearly every weekend until the end of December.

I do a lot of bookbinding demos at trade shows and festivals towards the end of the year. Last year at "Dickens of a Christmas" in historic Franklin, TN I dressed in Victorian garb and sewed books on a frame, a traditional production binding method used at a time when the trade was becoming more mechanized.

I do a lot of bookbinding demos at trade shows and festivals towards the end of the year. Last year at "Dickens of a Christmas" in historic Franklin, TN I dressed in Victorian garb and sewed books on a frame, a traditional production binding method used at a time when the trade was becoming more mechanized.

During this brief lull, as an artist and small business owner, I begin to prepare for this high-selling time by checking inventory, advertising, filling orders, and of course making new work. It's a season that many small businesses like mine depend on, to finish out the year on a high note. It's a time not just to sell work, but also to make connections, meet lots of new people, and connect with the people that use my books. 

The majority of my work is useful and perishable. Not perishable in the sense that it will spoil or that my books will fall apart, but perishable in that I design every book to be thoroughly and lovingly used to the very last page—written in, drawn in, carted around in a satchel, and tossed on counter tops at the coffee shop. The bottom line is that I build my books to last. Nothing makes me happier than being contacted by a former client who's just finished the last page and is back for a second or third journal.

During the month of #Booktober, I step outside of my usual bookbinding comfort zone by using different materials and methods of binding. This watercolor journal uses a walnut-dyed, handmade flax paper as a cover, thick watercolor paper, and decorative stitching on the spine! 

During the month of #Booktober, I step outside of my usual bookbinding comfort zone by using different materials and methods of binding. This watercolor journal uses a walnut-dyed, handmade flax paper as a cover, thick watercolor paper, and decorative stitching on the spine! 

These are the sorts of things that I think about in October, as I'm powering through my last production cycle of the year. Binding new books, working with beautiful materials like leather, linen blend cloths, and gorgeous papers in a range of hues and jewel tones that I haven't had a chance to use all year. Booktober is an opportunity for me to let loose in the bindery and mix all of these wonderful materials to make books that would otherwise never come into being.

CHB papers

To share this manic binding time with the world, I also share photos, quotes, and "did you knows" on social media. This year, I'm also doing something a little different. Every day in the month of Booktober (starting Monday the 3rd), I'll list one unique blank book for sale and share the live link to that one-of-a-kind book on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Every day a new book will be offered up and once it's gone, it's gone. I'm looking forward to #Booktober. Won't you join me?

Be sure to follow me on social media to get your hands on the daily #Booktober offering!

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