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Bookbinder Eilis Murphy of Corofin. Photograph by John Kelly.

Book-binder Eilís crafts ‘Words About Words’

COROFIN-based artists and book binder, Éilís Murphy continues to fly the flag for an age-old and fascinating craft, with her latest handcrafted book Words about Words.

The beautifully handmade, limited-edition work of art is a kind of illustrated dictionary of rare words, many of which have fallen out of use. It explores the language of lexicography, using 26 collages to bring to life esoteric terms, from ‘abecedarian’ to ‘zeugma’.

“I love resurrecting obscure words, giving them a new life through illustration,” Éilís said, describing Words about Words as “an ABC picture book for adults”.

Earlier this year, Éilís’s expertise and creativity were rewarded with a €10,000 RDS Craft Awards bursary. She was one of five emerging Irish craftspeople awarded a bursary for the development of their craft.

“Each book is unique by virtue of hand-painted paste paper, which gives the cover the chalky texture of a painted canvas. This paper decoration technique has been used by bookbinders since the middle ages,” said Éilís, who hand-bound each copy to create an edition of 250 books. “This artist’s book subverts one of the oldest literary genres – a children’s alphabet book – to illustrate unfamiliar yet fundamental words about language. I am fascinated by how words evolve: falling in and out of use, being repurposed and given new layers of meaning. This mirrors my bookbinding practice which draws on centuries-old techniques. In a sense, bookbinders are keeping alive the ancient language of their craft.”

Words about Words, is printed on 100% recycled paper and can be bought at Éilís’ website foldedleaf.ie. Éilís also offers a gift-wrapping service with a handwritten note and her packaging is made from 100% recycled materials.

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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