sonya sheats bookbinding

by Grace Bonney

Working on the Design*Sponge Book has made me so appreciative and respectful of the skill that goes into making books in their physical form. While cover designs often become a highly digital process these days, I always appreciate when I see books that embrace a cover or binding with an unexpected material or texture. Those sorts of bindings are incredibly expensive for publishers so you don’t see them a lot, but when they happen they’re absolutely stunning. Amy Azzarito is my book guru so when I saw her tweet about an amazing book binder working on these sorts of special bindings I immediately became obsessed with her work.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sonya Sheats specialize in handcrafted book bindings that use leather, wood, paper and cloth. While living in France Sonya took a course from Anne Vion on bookbinding and has continued to practice and teach bookbinding ever since her return to the US. I love the way Sonya creates such unique pieces that feel like there couldn’t possibly be another one just like it in the world. Her use with color and subtle detail is spot on and I am dying to see one of these up close in person. I’ve chosen my favorites above and below, but you can view her entire collection right here. Her work is really a feast for the eyes. xo, grace

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  • I work in the office of a menu factory where we produce menu covers, binders, table stands, etc. I love to see interesting new bookbinding concepts! There is a whole world of art and craftsmanship involved in making books that is so often overlooked online. It’s nice to see a feature about some new trends!

  • Also check out the work of Irma Boom. She’s a Dutch book designer and her bindings and formats are nothing short of amazing.

  • Sonya, it’s great to see you on DS! Your work is looking great. Hopefully I can make it to your next open studios & see your work in person. Much love!

  • I was lucky enough to see and feel her books in the ‘flesh’ and they are stunningly beautiful. Covetable items ! I have a journal and I just hold it and marvel at the craftsmanship and haven’t been able to draw a thing yet!

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