Crafting books in Guimarães

Hello better people. I know its been quiet here for a while. I’ve relocated to Portugal, to a little town called Guimarães which turns out to be a place where creativity of all kinds flourishes. (Lucky me!) So I thought I’d share some of my adventures here just to inspire you all. Look how pretty it is.

If you wander up this awesome street (Rua de Santa Maria) you will find a  tiny shop on the left called Pedra Flor. It’s a short (and ridiculously picturesque) walk from my apartment.

This creative place is housed in a long narrow space that is shared by four small businesses. It sells a curious range of products that includes owner Helder Magalhães’ own hand-made (and sometimes even hand-written) books as well as eco-friendly brand Babu. You can check it out on Facebook.

Pedra Flor is situated right at the end of the space, furthest in from the street, which was a good move as it adjoins a tiny courtyard. This was the site of my latest adventure – a bookbinding workshop.

I spent a glorious Saturday morning learning how to construct a book. It’s a bit of a different perspective, focusing on the physical object, rather than the words. (Makes a change from writing.)

We learned how to make a three-quire book from scratch – folding the paper, making holes and stitching to create the inside of the book. The spine is glued and re-enforced with twine that runs across the three quires and is secured inside the cover. Attaching the cover was a challenge as that twine has to be teased out and “shaved” to get it to lie flat under the end pages of the book. We got to decorate our books with carefully pressed plants and wild flowers.

Helder’s hallmark seems to be “care”. Both in the attention he lavished on the book binding process, but also in his lovingly presented shop. My favourite part was when we got tea with an apple and cinnamon cake, made by Helder. (I actually miss having to bake for Better events.)

It was great to learn (at least a bit about) another craft. I’m inspired, in Guimarães, by how many crafts there are to learn and how many people here still make things. There are shoe-shops with actual cobblers making shoes, clothing stores where tailors make the clothes and I live above a pottery studio.

What about you? Have you attended any interesting craft workshops lately? Are you running one? Comment below to share your experiences with the Better community.

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