We were the guests in a different kind of place, which smelled history, making you forget where you were… It was the PürSanat Atelyesi (art workshop) in Üsküdar. We became a part of a nostalgic adventure among the century old or older books decorated with gilded vignettes. We talked with Osman Doruk, a bookbinder who brings back the genuine leather hardbound manuscripts to life with a traditional touch, about his works, reflecting the marks of the Ottoman and the Seljuk, and his future goals. 

Followed by collectors 

Osman Doruk, who studied calligraphy at Mimar Sinan University Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Traditional Turkish Arts, was more interested in the hardbound department, influenced by his teachers Habib İşmen and İslam Seçen. After graduating, Doruk started studying his postgraduate in the hardbound department. He has been lecturing in Mimar Sinan University 2 days a week since 2012. Stating that he advances within the frame of master-apprentice relation in the hardbound field, Doruk said, “My dear teacher, Habib İşmen, gave me a very important responsibility at the university. I have been lecturing hardbound students 2 days a week as an instructor by means of what I learned from him. You cannot teach without knowing anything. At this point, I want to underline that I learned a lot from him.” Osman Doruk, who has been currently continuing his work at the PürSanat Workshop in Üsküdar, is engaged in a different target group consisting of collectors and book lovers. Doruk shares the books he restored in his social media accounts. Stating that many book lovers around the world reach him, Doruk says, “People don’t really know what they need, because they are not aware of the existence of such an art. This is why many people have contacted us via our Instagram account. For instance, their grandfather’s book, which is in a very bad condition, should be entrusted in the hands of a binder. So I’m trying to help everyone who has contacted me.”

He restores precious manuscripts 

Appealing to a special audience, consisting of book collectors, book lovers and those, who want their precious books to be restored, Osman Doruk says that the people he meets need different designs such as notebooks. Doruk, who has created different notebook designs with the same techniques and designs, makes this craft more accessible and shares it with his target audience. He said that 200, 300, 500 years old rare manuscripts are brought to him. His biggest dream at this point is to bind a manuscript written recently and to make a special hardbound for it under the current conditions. In other words, he is aiming to immortalize the works that will be inherited tomorrow. Doruk expresses that there are nearly 500 binderies in London today, and when a famous author’s book came out, 500 or 1000 special prints were made, and those who wanted to buy these books went to a bindery and had a special hardbound made. “A calligrapher of Üsküdar, bookbinder, and marbling master Necmeddin Okyay, who also gave lessons in Mimar Sinan University in his time, had revealed the methodology of this work. My teachers learned this art from Sacid Okyay, son of Necmeddin Okyay,” said Doruk, who designs hardbound through a traditional method. 

He works on up to 3-4 works in a month 

Osman Doruk works with great care about which type of leather will be used in hardbound making, how to be finished, how to be dyed and how to thin it. Doruk, who has been working on a mold, which has not been made for 100-150 years, for 3-4 years, says that he finally reached his goal. “The adventure of each book is different from the beginning to the end,” says Doruk, who can bind up to 3 or 4 books in one month. “Let me give an example to a manuscript without a hardbound. First, we examine this book from A to Z. After checking the status of the pages, we disassemble the book. We remove its stitches and separate its back. As it is an old book, we do a careful cleaning and dust the pages. Then we sew the print signatures with silk thread. Then the endband is braided. This fine braid on the back of the book keeps the book together. If the book is going to fall apart, this will start from the endband first. Then we go with the cover design. Processes such as which type of leather to use, the preparation of the vignette pattern to be decorated on it are introduced. Then we attach the cover to the book. There are 3 important needs in the hardbound business: Machinery, tools and consumables. The newest of the machines are 60, 70 years old. We use many tools such as blades, cues, brushes, pencils, and compasses. As a bookbinder, I often design the tools I need for myself. Therefore, we need to understand carpentry, blacksmithing or mold making. Consumables are made of pieces of kid leather, paper, cardboard, yarn, varnish, glue.”