Dispatches from Maine: Strong Arm Bindery

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During our time in Maine we were able to visit Strong Arm Bindery, a bindery, fine book making, and book restoration shop, that sports it’s own letterpress shop (in collaboration with 43rd Parallel Press). This picturesque workshop is situated in the former Parts Department of a historic steam engine factory on the East End waterfront of Portland. As it’s founder and primary employee (not counting the Cat) Martha Kearsley is Strong Arm Bindery, when she’s not teaching at the very cool North Bennet Street School in Boston (read a great interview on the Armfuls of Show and Tell blog), she can be found here working her craft and trade.

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From her nook in the old factory she does all kinds of restoration work, as well contract binding, and bookmaking, as well as a host of smart and quirky projects that suit her fancy.

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The shop Cat.

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Follow this photo-essay after the jump to see all the wonder of this amazing workshop.

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Now that is not a paper guillotine. It a board Shear.

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This studio had achieved the zen-perfect balance between clean craft space and kitsch.

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Foil Stamper!

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(If these cat photos don’t boost our internet traffic nothing will!)

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This project ‘Origami for Mainers’ is 1) totally funny (who every heard of Black Fly origami?) and 2) part of a larger locally-sourced craft fundraiser for regional schools, called the Close Buy Catalog organized by Masey Kaplan.

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Cool light table hack: glass+paper+2 bricks+portable light.

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We snuck across the gangway to the other buildings in the factory. look at that SPACE!

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And a view of the harbor.

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This shop had the best crap ever!

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Martha (below) explaining things the out-of-towners.

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The letterpress situation is a share with 43rd Parallel Press.

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What a lovely shop/studio – if you are in Portland and you need something bound- look no further.

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Categories: Print-related, Printshop Tour


8 Responses to “Dispatches from Maine: Strong Arm Bindery”

  1. Jeff Shay says:

    “Now that is a paper guillotine.” Um, actually no, it’s not. It’s a board shear. A guillotine has a blade that goes straight up and down, like the French beheading invention, as opposed to a blade that pivots, like this shear.

    Very cool shop…

  2. amze says:

    Hi Jeff, Thank you for that correction.

  3. Allison Walker says:

    I’m an intern at the Book Arts Center of Kalamazoo in Michigan and this shop just makes my heart sing! The Center is so cramped and loving mishmash of letterpresses of different eras, cabinets of type and other print presses. The Strong Arm looks amazing.

    Utterly jealous of the board shear – I just can’t get a clean cut of binder’s board by using a ruler and a utility knife.

  4. Katie says:

    And seriously, who DOESN’T love photos of cats in workshops?

  5. scott vile says:

    Guillotine blades do not go straight up and down, at least when it comes to cutting paper. They also go, generally, from right to left, so the actual action of cutting is a shearing. The original French Guillotine DID go straight up and down, but, importantly, the shearing action was made by the blade being angled.

  6. “I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already Cheers!”

  7. Andy Uhas says:

    I have an old Bible that needs repairs. The binder is intact and the covers too , but it all needs repairs. I want to keep this Bible and use it soon, when fixed. It was my father in laws-now deceased.Can you repair my Bible? I could text you a picture of it? Thank you

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