Raoul Bollin was born and raised in Büren, Switzerland. A fourth generation bookbinder, Bollin started his professional training when he was sixteen years old. First, he completed a four year apprenticeship with Erwin Ruf in Bern, Switzerland. Next he worked at the bindery of his father, Hanspeter Bollin. During this time, he studied under several different teachers as well as guided others through their apprenticeships. Bollin’s main instructor was Hugo Peller. He also learned restoration with M.D. Sczaniecka in Bern and hand tooling with J.F. Barbance in Avallon, France. The Centro del Libro in Ascona, Switzerland provided further opportunity for Bollin to acquire new skills. After six years of full time work, he was eligible for the two year Master Bookbinder program in Bern. When he was twenty-eight, Bollin successfully finished all the required tests and received the Master Bookbinder designation.
Bollin has completed special commissions and design bindings for both libraries and private clients worldwide. In addition, he attended the School of Graphics and Art in Biel, Switzerland and has had his paintings and sculptures exhibited around the United States and Switzerland. A desire for change and adventure led Bollin to the United States in 1993. His first job was as Binding Instructor at Kater-Crafts Bookbinders in Pico Rivera, California. Later, he began working at Handbridge Bindery in Austin, Texas. He enjoys teaching and has given workshops at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and the University of Texas at Austin Preservation and Conservation Studies Program. Handbridge Bindery hosts many of his classes, including leather paring, paper decoration, leather inlay and onlay, gold tooling and different binding styles.
“As a bookbinder, I think that preserving the content of the book is of paramount importance. Because of this, my designs usually consist only of onlays and some tooling. On this occasion I did a French style binding in full purple morocco with onlays of red morocco; gold titling; red velour endsheets; multicolored silk endbands; top edge graphite and gauffered. When possible, I like to pick out a design element from the text block and incorporate it on the cover of the book. For this binding, I enlarged a small portion of a woodcut on page 47, simplified it and transferred this image to both the binding and the box. I used the pop-up box construction because it presents the book in an inviting and novel way."