My name is Milton Watkins and in 1979 I was attending a Technical College in a southern suburb of Melbourne Australia. I was just completing year 10 and had thoughts of starting my career as an Electrician or maybe a Plumber. One of the teachers had asked if I was interested in an apprenticeship in Bookbinding, the proper title being a Binder and Finisher. Well at this time in my life to have an opportunity of having a job offered to me, and an apprenticeship at that, and not wanting to join the unemployment line when I left school, I said yes, without much thought into what I was going to become and where it was going to lead me.
Well my career started at a company called Twinlock Australia, located about a 5 minute walk from my parents home, it was a business that manufactured office products i.e.. Filing systems ( actually made the manila files that are in your filing cabinets ) these were custom printed for various company's around Australia, it also manufactured and sold all other associated office systems including hand bound storage binders, some of these had steel mechanisms in them that could be wound out to fit the documents that were to be placed inside. While at Twinlock I enjoyed doing the hand binding and gluing, but I liked working on the Guillotine the best.
The Guillotine was a lot of heavy work especially since you had to pick up very large sheets of manila, most the size of a small dinner table and bending over to pick these sheets up and then placing them on a pallet on the floor. ( this was a time before we have such luxuries as lifts, auto stackers, joggers and rollers) So this is the path of a binder and finisher that I preferred to take, and take it I did for the next 14 years, I worked at many printing companies to further my experience and to keep up with the changing technology of these wonderful machines. I worked in and around Melbourne for this period and even went back into hand binding and restoration with a couple of businesses for a few years. Then in 1989 moved to Queensland and worked for more printing companies then in in 1994 I decided to get married. At this stage I had a small collection of binding tools, some material contacts and made a purchase of a small foiling press I had to start my own business in book restoration and custom binding.
Absolute Bookbinding was born in 1994 on the Gold Coast in Queensland, as I was doing this part-time it was great start to my business career, especially since I had started to collect all the important hand tools and some equipment needed and all this in a little garden shed 3 x 3 meters, but I wanted to do it full time. So a couple of years later my wife and I would move down to the Victorian country town of Ballarat were my parents and other family members now lived.
When we moved to Ballarat I went on unemployment benefits and needed to start somewhere so I started working from home doing a little restoration work here and there. Then I found out about NEIS ( New Enterprise Initiative Scheme ) it was a special training scheme setup to help people who wanted to start their own business that were currently unemployed, so I attended their information evening and put my idea of a book restoration business to them and within a few weeks I was accepted. It started with 13 weeks of studying small business management then if I past that stage it was onto 12 months of financial support and help from some business orientated people.
So in March 1998 Ballarat Bookbinding came to existence, it started in a single garage now and a few months past and I bought my first Ludlow and cabinet of mats, now I was expanding. Then in February 1999 I moved into an old 1870's bluestone shop on a corner of a very busy road, the only shop for about 200 meters either way and near a popular lake. (actually the lake that the Olympic rowing event in 1956 was held) I stayed here until the middle of February 2003.
Well it is now 2014 we have a private studio in the Gold Coast suburb called Currumbin, we are open by appointment only, and you can call 0438 876 467 anytime (well within reason) to get me personally. I travel to Ballarat several times a year now to assist customers down south.
The new year already has a waiting llist that is still heavy, what the new year will bring I don't know but I will keep my fingers busy restoring all these fine books and custom binding new ones, so that while I am able I can keep this fine art alive.
Regards Milton Watkins.
Dedicated to the Customer to Produce the Finest Craftsmanship and the Unique
Skills to bring a Book back to Life and to Protect Every Word and Thought.
Welcome to the Website of BALLARAT BOOKBINDING Now located in Currumbin, Queensland