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Octavia Book Bindery    1040 – 8th Ave SW    (587) 700 – 6575

We have had the good fortune of having published our friend Robin Tomlinson's book, Super Hero. It's inspirational, it's beautiful, and it makes a SUPER GREAT GIFT !!! But, you have to ORDER NOW, because we're running out of time to build them. SO... if you want copies ASAP, give me a call and place an order, we'll build them for you before Christmas. They're $15 each. DO IT !!!! Buy TEN and stick them in your stockings !!! ... See MoreSee Less

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Rayma Layden and Robin Tomlinson like this

Robin Tomlinson❤️🌈✊🏽

3 days ago
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This quote was pulled from 5 years ago, and I can see both the up sides and the down sides to it. On the one hand, we have created a brilliant business, and I get to be creative all day, every day. On the other hand, I didn't go home for 3 days, surviving on little naps on the couch and pushing myself to the limit. Yesterday I finally crashed -- HARD. I got home at 1AM, couldn't sleep, crashed finally at 4AM, and didn't wake up until 2PM.

I apologize for not being available to all of those folks calling today, I apparently slept right through 14 phone calls and missed a ton of clients stopping in at the studio. BUT, 3 days of getting stuff done, just look at the pictures to see what I'm talking about.

Again, sorry for anyone who was calling, I'm calling everyone back ASAP. (PS: Our voicemail doesn't work worth a damn. Best just to call back later, since we can't hear your messages at all when you call. We've tried to fix it, still no clue what's wrong with it.)
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Thank you Gaye-Ellen Shaw for inspiring this year's "Worst Case Scenario" Season's Greeting card. It is very lovely, and although we pray that we won't have to give any of these out to our clients this year, we do hope that it is a reasonable replacement should we run out of time. ... See MoreSee Less

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Octavia Book Bindery added 6 new photos.

Another one down. Give a brotha a hand !
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Octavia Book Bindery added 8 new photos.

You may not appreciate that I am not as fast as your local print shop, or Amazon.Com, but I'll tell you this: if you found Octavia Book Bindery because it was the ONLY LOCAL BOOK BINDERY, then you've completely missed the point -- quality does not happen quickly. Quality takes time. Quality requires patience.

If you're only about TIME, then you're better off getting your work done as a cheapo coil binding at Staples. We're not cheap. We're not fast. We are the BEST at what we do, because quality is far more important. Look at this book.....just gorgeous. You don't get craftsmanship like this overnight. It might take months. But what do you get? Well worth the wait. LOOK AT THIS BOOK !!!
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Bonnie DalkeithWow gorgeous

4 days ago
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Heather DewickYou tell 'em!

4 days ago
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(Warning, apparently, I talk about myself in the third person when I'm exhausted. SJ says that I talk in my sleep, too. Ask her about it, sometime. LOL)

Well, folks, another late night at the studio. As I've always said, no rest for the wicked. I crashed on the couch at the studio again last night, which was good, got 6 hours in, and SJ woke me to help get Rhyl's yearly cookbook jobs done and off the table. (Such a wonderful client, she brings us cookies and nummers and yummers and damn can she make a brilliant dish of cookies!)

I am having issues with our CNC machine, the Y Axis gets stuck in the middle of the screw post -- same place every time. I cleaned it, I re-oiled it, I fixed the issues with any electrical and software issues, and still, this one spot seems to cause the machine to skip, right in the middle. A new machine will cost $2500US ($3000+CAN) and we use it for EVERYTHING. Gotta spend some of the next little bit getting it fixed, whatever that means. No foiling dies until it's figured out.

I'm spending the main part of the evening working on finishing up the Rose Journal, called so because it has three hand painted, hand tooled roses on the front. The dye seems to be running into the paint, that is, the paint is sucking up the dye from the leather. So, I have to put a layer of laquer between them, then paint. It'll get done. Has to be done before christmas -- as do, like, 100 other jobs. Only 10 days to go.

Daniel and Robert went on a shopping trip this afternoon, picked up 7 new skins of leather for the custom jobs, just one of which will use up half of this new batch. Also, we stopped in at Black Mountain Wood, and picked up 15 boards of exotic hardwoods, and some bits of Red Oak and such -- this will be used for our new board games, cribbage boards, mostly. Robert has been doing reproductions of an 18th century cribbage board, used by Lord Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar. It's a gorgeous board, and he's been hand turning the spillikins (counters, that is, the pegs) out of bamboo and walnut. He's created a cool set of spillikins based on the card suits, which look pretty neat, but because of the time it takes to make them, sell for $60 each set of 8. The boards sell for $300 each, but without the CNC cutting properly, it's difficult to get them earning since we can't even get them perfected when the machine is misbehaving. Grr.

While I'm waiting for paint to dry (literally), I'm tackling a small batch of restoration jobs that have been on the docket for quite a long time. The one taking up the most time this evening is an old book called "Among the Poets". (Now, I know that anyone who's a current client and is waiting on their job right now is wondering, "Why the hell isn't that damned bookbinder working on MY JOB !!!" Sorry. I'm prioritizing in the best way that I can, big jobs and little jobs and unfinished jobs and finished jobs and little bits of this and that in between, Sarah Joy managing to get the simpler ones out of the way because she's a genius like that). It's a gorgeous book, the sewing has come completely loose, some of the pages are terribly damaged, and the cover has come completely apart. It's a beautiful book, though, and I can't wait to get it done, if only because I know that it's a job of a lifetime.

Okay, only an hour and a half left to work time before my brain utterly collapses in a heap on the couch. I promised myself a quick clean up before I hit dream land. I had 6 hours last night, and a 1 hour nap at 9PM. I tell ya, if you had any idea how little sleep this seems like to me, blasting my way through the Christmas season trying to get your wonderful books done for your family members, and the joy it brings me to be able to have that kind of impact on your lifes, you'd also know that I'm likely killing myself doing it. No sleep, and far too many responsibilities for one man to do.

(What I mean, is, bring liquor. Scotch, Fine Wine, Craft Beer. Keep a guy company in the late lonely hours, and a crew of bookish elves in cookies and nose warming liquids while they toil away at your gifts. LOL)
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Bonnie Dalkeith likes this

Octavia Book BinderyI talk about myself in the 3rd person when I'm tired.

4 days ago
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Liz GillumGood luck with all your tasks. Sounds like a lot of work, but potentially some fun there too. Remember that enough sleep can prevent expensive mistakes and possibly dangerous errors.

4 days ago

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I learned something today. And now I'm about to tackle even more learning as I get some more groovy Christmas orders out of the way. ... See MoreSee Less

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Another late night of binding. Now, I thought that getting in a good sleep on Sunday would do the trick, but I've been here for seven hours, got two jobs finished, and my head is throbbing like you wouldn't believe. Tomorrow is another day. I'm going to take a big bottle of water, and take a couple of Tylenols, and come back to the studio on Monday and keep tackling these Christmas jobs. SJ and the crew will be in tomorrow, and we'll see what kind of dent we can make in this tower of jobs 🙂

On another note, I went to the Antique's Show at Hillhurst Sunnyside on Saturday morning, and found a set of Mackey's Masonic Encyclopedias that I've been wanting for twenty years -- the covers are damaged, but we all know that I can fix that. And I also found a nice antique Christmas card, around 100 years old, that I plan to use for the jobs that didn't get here on time -- these clients can pass their kin a card and let them know that we've got something special coming for them SOON.

Lastly, this coming week marks 2 WEEKS until CHRISTMAS. We will be taking RUSH ORDERS for simple bindings, such as family histories, rebindings, and memoirs, but we cannot possibly get in any restorations before Christmas. There simply isn't enough time. So, please note, that we will be happy to get the basics done, but Robert is here for up to 18 hour days, and there's just no way that more difficult jobs can get completed in time.

RUSH ORDERS are priced accordingly. Please note, a bribe of Scotch or Fine Wine goes a long way towards getting us to stay late this coming two weeks, but it won't cut down the price of the RUSH FEES.
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Octavia Book Bindery added 9 new photos.

I'm posting this one last time before I go deeper and deeper into Christmas Elf Land. This was a custom order for a client of mine, as a present for his niece. I was asking if my friend Dean had seen it, and he hadn't, and since I am so proud of it, I'd love to share it again, for his amusement, and the amusement of his friends. (The blurb that follows is in reply to a friend who was asking why it was so special).

WHAT MAKES THIS SO SPECIAL ???
This was the reply to Robert's earlier post "THIS PROJECT ... too awesome for sauce. Just, super damned fun. Robert L. Angus has outdone himself. The contents are based on the movie prop, but include excerpts from a 1940s psychology text book, a Modern Funeral Directors' text book, and an 1880s book on séances, tied together with some of Robert's own biographical details relating to the book, and the spells of summoning from both the film and the animated series."
"Blank cover, three pieces of tape amd mostly plagarized content? What am I missing? Why is this special?"
Geez, everyone's a critic. Our first response was, "You try it, bucko. Doubt you'd have gotten past the first page." But upon further reflection, the appropriate answer here follows:
The long answer to "Why is it so special" is that Robert can, in fact, charge good money for this kind of book. The "tape" as you call it, well, just goes to show what you know about what he does -- and what you're actually looking at. So, for sake of argument, and to make for a rather fun little essay to describe in detail his craft, we'll humour you and use it as and excuse for writing a blog post.
To begin, the book itself is based on the original prop from the movie Beetlejuice, which is nearly impossible to get a hold of -- it was actually a very poor example of bookbinding -- which only three pages ever showed, and that, very poorly in the movie. The first, of course, was the title page, the second, the prologue page, and the third, the publisher's colophon. Robert's first job was to research the hell out of the book, and not only get photos of these three pages as well as a scan of the original cover art, but to recreate them as close to perfectly as possible, including font (which is damned close, the original was an ATF printer's type that no longer exists, and doesn't exist as a computer font). The original art for the title page was far too pixelated, so he drew it out by hand, and scanned it at 600 DPI so it would print nicely. The prologue page, fortunately, was available as a public domain print, a copy of which existed on Archive.Org, and he typed it out by hand, since the original scanned version didn't OCR properly (OCR means Optical Character Recognition, which is a form of software that reads the scanned image of the page and does its best to make it machine readable -- in this case, a very poor job.)
Once that element was finished, he added in the Introduction to an introductory textbook for Funeral Directors and Morticians. The reason this was chosen was to add a little filler text (to make the book look like a book) and not use Lorem Ipsum filler text, which would be less fun for the client's niece, whom this book was for. The text also worked as a segue for Robert to be able to put in a few autobiographical notes about his own connection to the book, which stems from his having owned a small, and very short lived publishing house with one of the designers for Nelvana's animated series based on the film. Which, because of this little connection, Robert felt that the book should include both the summoning spell from the movie as well as the summoning spell from the animated series (used in the opening sequence). To this end, he sourced a copy of an 1880's text on seances, and where the original had prayers and poetry, included the lines from the spells -- and then tweaked the text to read appropriately.
Finally, the only other pages to the book which were referenced in the movie were the three "rules" for the dead, which were never shown, but read. They needed to look like (as per the director's notes in the script) "...a manual for a radio or a television set".
All of this resourced, typeset, and tweaked to fit (which is way beyond what was needed, since the book was only supposed to be a journal with lined pages), the pages went through several hours of reformatting and tweaking to make the pages fit properly, the text changed a few times to look right for the period (in this case, a 1940's psychology textbook) and a few notes to the reader -- in this case, the young lady to whom the book was being gifted -- to help draw her a little closer into the theatre of the book itself -- it's not just a prop recreation, it's a fourth wall breaker for the young lady receiving it (Robert is also including a book mark with the number 9,998,383,750,000 made to look like the movie prop).
The book was printed in signatures of 5 sheets of Cougar Natural 60# Linen paper, and sewn by his apprentice Sarah-Joy in a traditional early 20th century fashion, using 16# Irish linen thread, waxed by hand, and sewn over the "tapes" on a 100 year old sewing frame that Robert inherited from his mentor's grandmother (His mentor is nearly 90 years old, the company he owns was established in 1926, Robert is the 4th owner of what was a family business for 82 years).
Once the book was sewn in this fashion, the endsheets were selected from a stock of beautiful papers made by Robert Wu of Toronto -- known all over the world for his beautiful and luxurious hand marbled prints.
The book will now await the crafting of a new hand-dyed leather cover, complete with hand tooled and painted image based on the film original, excepting that this one will look like a real book, made specially for a young client, who will treasure this book for a lifetime, not just because it was made just for her, but also because the content was personalized to create a bit of an adventure for her as well, bringing her, for just a brief moment, into the world of the film.
So, what ,makes this book so special? If you have no idea, then you likely never will. "Because it bloody well is", is the short answer.
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14 phone calls this morning, and 8 alarms. Slept right through them all. One of my employees came to the house and woke me up by yelling through the door, "ARE YOU STILL ALIVE???"

Apparently, 10 hours sleep in my own bed following a 4 day workaholic's binge at the studio isn't enough.

One of our authors at the Publishing House* called me this afternoon and asked if I was taking care of myself. I said, "No, of course not. Santa's Elves get no rest, no thanks, and nothing but scotch and espresso to keep us on our feet." She demanded that I go get some fruits and veggies and vitamins and take care of my body and get enough sleep, and stop it with the Christmas tomfoolery.

I said, "I can't lady. There are over 1000 doctors in Calgary. There is only one Book Binder. I'm a Super Hero*. No one's going to give me a medal or a vacation at their family cabin in Aspen, but they sure as hell will give me heart attacks, addictions, divorces, hateful children who don't call their father, and no end of hell for missing their deadlines. No care in the world for whether or not I survive the season, so long as their presents arrive in time and with all of the bells and whistles."

Note: * (Robin Tomlinson, you should go buy her book "Super Hero" on Amazon.Ca for your kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews or grandparents or parents or cousins or neighbors or teachers or doctors, ad infinitum)
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Courtney Allen, Terence Roy and 2 others like this

Octavia Book BinderyRobin Tomlinson, for the record, I ordered a Tabouli salad and a Greek salad last night for dinner. Followed up with a green smoothie for dessert. Hope that helps you feel like I am taking better care of myself. LOL.

1 week ago   ·  2

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Robin TomlinsonYou’re hilarious and also you NEED vitamins lol 😂🔥

1 week ago   ·  1

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Kierin MackenzieYou may have to be harder on what you take on next year. Good on you for being a super-hero, but burn-out sucks. Best of luck and season's greetings!

1 week ago

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Lorna DernHateful children???

1 week ago
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See that bottle of wine at the end of the table? And the little dominican cigarello beside it? That's my incentive to get these ten books sewn quickly. It's 8:00pm, I've officially been working for 34 hours straight.

No rest for the wicked, but at least the wicked can enjoy some nice wine, cigar, and great music.
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Elitsa Korneva likes this

Paul TronsonWhy are you whipstitching books that belong in a ring binder Bro?? The holes will still be there? 34 hours straight is not good for you Bob, get some rest the work can wait. Work to live, don't live to work, that's an early grave and you have so much to achieve. I had a client fly over from Europe to pick up her book last week, babysat her for a couple of days which put me behind and I have 3 major pieces to finish before Crimbo, will finish one...the others can wait and they will, they will still be there after the holiday, everything gets done in my time. Don't let your clients dictate to you, if they pressure you tell them they have 2 hopes, Bob Hope and No Hope. If you are the only one in Calgary where else are they gonna go! I've stopped posting on facebook, I found it takes up a lot of my time....now I get a lot more done and shut up shop at 6. Merry Christmas bro, hope the new year brings you all you deserve....Now fuck off home and get some sleep! 🙂

4 days ago   ·  1

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Okay, tonight's jobs are planned out and on the workbench. I've got a HUGE list ahead of me. If I can make a dent in the priorities tonight, then I promise that I will get some sleep.
- One antique family bible
- Two custom leather bibles.
- Two Volume leather bound set.
- Ten custom limited edition hardcovers.
- One leather antique cookbook rebinding.
- One custom leather journal with hand painted roses.
17 books. Think I can do that in 6 hours?

I've been at the studio for 32 hours straight. Only got the paper repairs done on one book last night. Two bottles of wine are going to be my only company this evening -- that and Dan Carlin's Hardcore History Podcast.
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Adriana Florcitaswow that's a lot of work!

2 weeks ago   ·  1

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Octavia Book Bindery added 2 new photos.

This project has been several weeks in the making. It's been carved out three times, each time the CNC machine mangled it. (CNC is a computer controlled robot that carves out materials like wood, metal, or in this case, linoleum, for projects like making embossing plates, foiling dies, custom designed boards, printing plates, etc. Super handy, before this, I had to do it all by hand -- a very long process) . Too many big steps? Calibration set too high? Dull bits? Yup.

So, it's finally done. I had to break the computer code into several small chunks, each one running for about an hour, and recalibrated the machine, resetting the motors to run more slowly, and thus more accurately. Took a whole day to make it work.

And some people wonder why perfection takes time. I can't just knock off the best work possible in a day or two. Now, I've still got to carve out the negative spaces by hand.Did you know that it took me 6 years of messing around and researching and experimenting and studying and hassling machinist friends to learn how to get the machine to actually do what I wanted it to do? SIX YEARS !!! Before that, an embossing plate like this would have taken me 10-15 hours by hand. The cramps ... ah, memories.
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Craig Nelson, Robert Wu and 17 others like this

Octavia Book BinderyTerence Roy -- just re-edited the post, so it actually sounds a bit better. LOL

2 weeks ago   ·  1
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Terence RoyJeez. Shoulda gave me a call.

2 weeks ago

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Dana TehBeautiful work!

2 weeks ago
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Phoebe BanburyYou do awesome work. Keep it up

2 weeks ago
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1:05AM, Thursday night, Friday morning. Making a handful of gorgeous books for clients, due tomorrow, but holy smokes, are they awesome jobs.

One, is a rust and brown quarter bound hardcover rebinding of a softcover book that fell apart on him. So, we pulled it apart, scraped off the old glue, and sewed the pages together with a clean oversewing technique. He wanted rust paper, but since we couldn't source any, Robert painted a nice linen cloth a rust colour to match the colour the client liked. Once dry, the cover is put together, foil stamped with the title of the book, and put in the press overnight.

Book two, is a 100 year old Dutch cookbook. Originally, it was bound with staples (!!!) and put together into a hardcover. Robert has to pull the rusty old staples out, and then remove the old glue. Once the text block is clean, he sews it onto linen tapes and sets new endsheets, making sure to keep the original ones with the signatures and dates of when it was gifted to the client's grandmother. Once sewn, a new leather spine is attached the the original cover boards, and the book is put into the press.

How long did these two books take? In total? About six hours.

It's 1:11AM. Robert is excited to see the finished books tomorrow, but for the moment, it's a better idea to get this other book (from 1849) cleaned up and ready for sewing. If he gets that done quickly, we might have a third book in the press by 3:00AM. Then he can go home and sleep. Back to work tomorrow at 10:00AM. Fingers are crossed.
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I've got some of the most awesome clients in the world. Full family bible restoration, just in time for Christmas. Feeling like a book binder Elf !!! ... See MoreSee Less

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Every day I'm hustlin'.
No rest for the wicked.
18 hour days 'til Xmas.
Christmas Bookbinder Elf,
At your service.
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Octavia Book Bindery added 2 new photos — at Octavia Book Bindery.

Did you know that Calgary has a custom book bindery?

AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL BOOKS.

You won't believe your eyes.

Come check them out. Like them. Share them. Give them a shout out. Favourite some of the pictures they've shared.

#octaviabookbindery #hiddentreasure #calgary #alberta #canada #livingthedream
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Octavia Book Bindery added 9 new photos.

Proud to be Canadian? So are we. #Canada
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Octavia Book Bindery added 9 new photos.

Got the rush job for Rileys done. These five custom leather slipcases look pretty sharp, and fit the books perfectly (even though we didn't have properly sized samples to work from). Five coats of custom mixed leather dye, four custom foiling dies, and about twenty hours of perfection.
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