Dominic Riley
  • by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by Barry Moser
    University of California, Berkeley, 1986, Pennyroyal Press edition
    bound 2009
    Private collection, USA

    Covered in salmon pink goatskin with several back-pared onlays in yellow, red, green and purple. Gold tooling.

    I am interested in optical illusions and visual puzzles, and try to include these in many of my designs. So Dorothy and Toto are hidden in the forest (recalling the scene in the story where they get attacked by trees). The poppy field on the back has giant threatening flowers. The Lion and the Wicked Witch are in their respective forests: the witch lives in the forest in the west and our heroes have to go and kill her, and the lion is made king of the forest for his bravery. Their profiles lie hidden in the tree-tops.

    All the coloured areas on the cover are back-pared onlays. The forest, poppy field, and Emerald City are panels with additional back-pared onlays, worked off the book, and then put onto the covering leather along with the yellow brick road and the forests, and then the whole cover is back-pared again, giving a smooth, flat surface. The book was covered at this stage and then tooled.

    Winner of the J. Hewit & Sons Award for Craftsmanship, Society of Bookbinders International Competition, 2011.
  • by Thomas Hardy, wood engravings by Peter Reddick
    Folio Society, 1968
    bound 2009
    Private collection, UK

    Covered in full brown goatskin, with light and medium brown feathered, back-pared onlays. Design tooled in gold and black foil using my adapted finishing tool.

    A family is rent in two when Michael Henchard sells his wife at a country fair. She and their daughter are cast adrift, as he goes on to make his fortune in corn, and ultimately becomes Mayor. Then, in time, they meet again, and his past catches up with him. After being overheard talking of his past, and then a bad harvest leads to a crash in the corn prices, he is ruined, and his wife and daughter are once again destroyed. These moments in the novel are all depicted in the tooling if you look closely enough.

    One of my first abstract line drawing bindings. I create the design from quite rough sketches and then transfer them carefully onto the leather, adding further lines which break up the imagery. I have made a few Hardy bindings using this approach - this is the first.
  • by William Shakespeare, illustrations by Paul Nash
    The Shakespeare Head Press, 1924
    bound 2013
    Private collection, UK

    A Fantasy Forest crashes into a Fantasy Palace, and across it the splendor of three stories are played out.

    One particular image from Nash's colour plates drew me in. His depiction of the wood near Athens describes simple arches, which are trees of course, but also refer stylistically to the black and white illustrations of the Palace of Theseus. In other words, the shapes of the columns are echoed in the rather regular shape of the trees. This is when I realised that for the rustics, mechanicals and fairies, the Forest is their Temple.

    The design then, has the Palace in the City turning into the Palace in the Forest. The bold shapes and bright colours of the trees act like a set-design. But the branches of the trees become arches which could be part of a building, and then they collide with the Palace roof and the two worlds mingle.

    Across this 'set' runs a banner, which is the time-line of the play, and the ten main characters are depicted in it, including Bottom, transformed into an ass.

    Awarded second prize for Fine Binding, Society of Bookbinders International Competition, 2011.
  • Extracted from Midsommer Nights Dreame
    by William Shakespeare, woodcuts by Chris Nurse
    Old Stile Press, 2003
    bound 2012
    Collection of The Bodleian Library, Oxford

    Covered in brown and overlapping black goatskin, with inlays of layered and sanded leather. Inlay of the moon made from sanded white and blue leather. Silver tooling.

    The rude mechanicals gather in the forest to rehearse their play. One actor plays the wall through which the lovers speak (this is the spine of the book, dividing the two worlds of Pyramus and Thisbe). Another plays the moon, and another the chink in the wall (this is represented on the box of the book). Finally, the lovers themselves have their names 'forever writ among the stars'. I have tooled their names in such a way that you should only be able to make them out faintly: if they were too obvious there would be no point in them.

    The binding combines two techniques I learned from my first teacher Paul Delrue. These are Lacunose (the sanded leather) and Tudor Style (the technique of covering a book in overlapping strips of leather). As a teacher myself, to achieve success with this binding is a fitting reminder of the importance of 'passing it on'.

    Winner of first prize, the Sir Paul Getty Award, in Designer Bookbinders International Competition, 2013.
  • Studied with Paul Delrue, 1985-7, and London College of Printing, 1988-90.
  • 1990-2001 lived in California. Past President of the Hand Bookbinders of California. With John DeMerritt had TV show, The Book Boys.
  • Self-employed since 1994. Joined by Michael Burke 1996. Taught at University of California and across USA for the Guild of Bookworkers. Co-founded binding programme at the San Francisco Center for the Book, 1996. Returns each summer to teach and lecture.
  • Moved to the Lake District in 2001. Taught at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal (2002-12), and has also taught at Burton Manor on the Wirral, Dillington House in Somerset and for all the regions of the Society of Bookbinders in the UK. In 2010 founded a new school, Bookbinding in the Lakes, with Michael Burke.
  • Winner of ten prizes in DB Bookbinding Competition 2001-7, including both first prizes and the Mansfield Silver Medal in 2007.
  • Elected Licentiate of DB in 2003, Fellow in 2008.
  • Winner of the first prize, the Sir Paul Getty Award, in the DB International Competition, 2013. Winning binding was acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
  • Co-founder of SoB Seminar, 2002, and DB/SoB workshop series, 2004. Elected President of the Society of Bookbinders in 2017.
  • Demonstrated at SoB Conferences and Seminars in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
  • Presenter of two films: Seventy Years in Bookbinding: a Portrait of Bernard Middleton, (2008), and Maureen Duke: the Life and Work of a Bookbinder, (2010).
  • Has published articles Gold Leaf (Hand Bookbinders of California); Ampersand (Pacific Center for the Book Arts); Biblio magazine; Illustrator magazine; Bookbinder (SoB) and The New Bookbinder (DB).
  • Accredited lecturer with the Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) since 2008.
  • Currently is the organizer of the DB lectures in London.
  • About fifty bindings in private collections in the UK, USA and Australia. Bindings in public collections in the USA and UK, including: the British Library, the Rylands Library in Manchester, St Bride Library, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Grolier Club in New York, the San Francisco Public Library and the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, California.

    "I enjoy all aspects of bookbinding, from restoration to teaching and Design Binding. Restoration is hugely challenging, and is surgical in its approach. Teaching is about giving back, but it also keeps the craft alive. If you have a passion, you must pass it on. Design Binding is the way we get to be artists, but is also the most mentally taxing. I have created seventy or so Design Bindings since 2001, and now make about four a year."

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