Carla “The Book Tailor” Ciminera doesn’t intend her handmade creations to be kept in glass cabinets or handled with white gloves. These unique hardbacks are meant to be read and passed down as family heirlooms.
For her most personal commissions, Ciminera creates pages from scratch with content provided by the client – photographs, love letters, drawings or messages from weddings – and crafts them into books or albums. Having discussed the project in depth, customers will often give her free rein to design the cover. The Brussels and Umbria-based tailor describes herself as “a bit of a magpie”, so sea snake and stingray (about £7,000), suede and feather (first picture, about £8,000) or even diamonds can end up being incorporated into each exquisite folio cover.
Using leather, paper and cloth as core materials, Ciminera dedicates many hours even to re-binding an existing book (as with Alice in Wonderland, third picture, £5,000) in a new, individually designed cover. Once she has finished carefully cleaning and repairing the original pages, she focuses on sewing them back together with linen thread, reinforcing the spine and creating silk-thread headbands. Each book comes in a handmade box (clamshell version in second picture, £10,000) or protective sleeve.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says Ciminera. “If someone loves their £2 paperback copy of Far from the Madding Crowd or their childhood Mother Goose, then it’s good enough for me and they deserve a beautiful cover.” Each tome takes a minimum of six weeks to be made and costs from £900 for a re-binding.
These tailor-made books really are created with volumes of care.