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The Master Bookbinder

Stopan is a bookbinder. Stopan makes journals—hideaways for thoughts, where the memories could take a refuge from the Golden Winds of Obviation, which are ruthlessly blowing against them and are steadily covering them with golden leaves until all history becomes a quiet field, lost.
Тефтер, Стопан

At the workshop

Stopan makes the journ­als from hard-pressed paper, goat­skin, linen thread, and finally he adorns them with pre­cious stones and golden orna­ments. He works with enthu­si­asm and patience, but swiftly, with con­fid­ent moves and little rest, because the more he has to hurry, the more his temper kindles, and sur­pris­ing ideas come to him, and his hands become secure, and his eyes—sharp, and the journ­als get in such mar­vel­lous shapes which he will not be able to achieve with the slowest and most careful work.

STOPAN (Kalin Daskalov) in his work­shop. On the wall in the back­ground is his Master Cer­ti­fic­ate at The Bul­garian National Crafts Chamber / Photo by: Dimitar Tenev 

One would say that the books them­selves are guiding him where to bend them, what colours to pick, and what clasps to choose to hold them. Does he make them by his own will, or do they possess him as their tool by which they appear in the world and become guard­i­ans of our thoughts?

COL­LEC­TIONPILLARS” Each journal is sewn on 5 bands with quality linen thread, con­sist­ing of 12 sig­na­tures of 32 pages, making a total volume of 384 pages / Photo by: Dimitar Tenev 

What will be written?

I am ima­gin­ing a trav­eler who will describe a foreign country, where he got lost. I am ima­gin­ing a poet, who will compose verses, but they will be without rhymes, with many struck words and cor­rec­tions between the lines. An artist, who will sketch vague con­tours, about which he will later lie that he has seen them in his dream. I am ima­gin­ing a grandma, and with trem­bling hands, and in big letters she will record her favour­ite recipe. I’m also ima­gin­ing a tense bar­keeper, who will count the wine bottles left in his cellar. Every­one will fill the journal in their own unpre­dict­able way.

— Or not! The journal will be left blank!

Stand­ing in front of such book, it is likely to be over­whelmed by a sense of rev­er­ence. Any­thing that you have decided to write sud­denly will seem too simple for such a special notepad. You will begin to ques­tion your spelling and to judge your hand­writ­ing as intol­er­ably ugly. As every begin­ning is the hardest, the blank page is the scar­i­est. It will take time until you dare to write with con­fid­ence. To kindle your temper, so to speak, for the sur­pris­ing ideas to come.

COL­LEC­TIONPILLARS” The surface is treated with a water solu­tion of shellac and gilded with 23.5 carat gold leaf / Photo by: Dimitar Tenev

COL­LEC­TIONPILLARS” The corners and clasps are made with a silver stand­ard of 950, while the book edges are sprinkled with a solu­tion of potassium per­man­gan­ate for dec­or­a­tion / Photo by: Dimitar Tenev

The Rules of the Craft

The look of these journ­als evokes a picture of the dim vaulted  cham­bers of the medi­eval mon­as­ter­ies. There similar books are kept in an unap­proach­able bright light and they rep­res­ent endur­ance and tra­di­tion. The craft to produce such items, which Stopan has revived is amazing. Yet, more amazing is his daring to peruse such unusual voca­tion to be master of hand­made bindery in the 21st century.

Stopan is a self-taught crafts­man. He had tried to find a teacher, but failed. The old masters seem to have van­ished. So he became an appren­tice to himself. That is why his work doesn’t follow the rules of any par­tic­u­lar binding school, instead it is a quest for dis­cov­er­ing a for­got­ten craft. Each new project is also a new oppor­tun­ity to exper­i­ment: it can be with a new mater­ial, tech­nique, or theme.

Stopan follows only one per­man­ent rule: always to combine dur­ab­il­ity with beauty. Each product must become a sturdy book, so to be reli­able. At the same time it must be man­u­fac­tured with an aim of artistic refine­ment and jewelry accur­acy. The more it ages, the more charm­ing it should become. The prime task for every fin­ished book is to inspire writing and to keep stories safe, and perhaps even­tu­ally to outlive its owners.

COL­LEC­TIONPILLARS” The book is bound with a fine quality, azure colored goat­skin. These skins are hand pol­ished and fin­ished to show the beauty of the natural grain / Photo by: Dimitar Tenev

No sooner than the late after­noon, the master binder will cease the work and will allow a moment of rest. He will clear some space and will arrange the ready-made books and will gaze at them with delight. In front of him are stand­ing COL­LEC­TIONS: of “PILLARS”, “WHIS­PERS”, “RIDDLES”. 

— Come, take a look around the work­shop of Stopan: www.iostopan.com

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Petar Petrov

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The Master Bookbinder

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