Carrboro Commons

Master bookbinder brings craft from Italy

Posted on March 25th, 2010 in A&E,Antiques,Books,Features by jock

By Alyssa Griffith
Carrboro Commons Editor

Master bookbinder Susan Soleil lives life according to her own philosophies. Soleil believes every choice we make is either a branch or a twig on the tree of life, and we are given these choices and opportunities to water, maintain and grow in order to strengthen our lives.

Master bookbinder Susan Soleil binds and restores books in Carrboro. The craftsman moved to the town after falling in love with the creative feel of the community. (Photo courtesy of Susan Soleil)

“Life is a long series of ‘what ifs,’ and we make thousands of choices every day that lead us in the direction we’re supposed to go,” Soleil said. “I don’t think you really even know what your biggest decisions are until after you’ve already made them.”

Soleil is a nationally respected book restorer who moved her hand bookbinding business from Rochester, N.Y., to Carrboro in the summer of 2007. Soleil has moved around a lot, but she said her lifestyle choices and philosophies convinced her to move to Carrboro, a place she thought she could call home. Soleil was also fascinated with the community’s relentless devotion to creativity and the arts.

“But Carrboro isn’t just about being creative,” Soleil said. “The people in this community want to have a positive impact on nature and on the other people around them. Someone who makes a mortgage payment, cleans up a landscape or takes care of a child should be celebrated too.”

Carrboro is a far distance from Soleil’s first bookbinding apprenticeship in Florence, Italy, in the 1970s. It was in Italy, under the guidance of a world-renowned master bookbinder, that she fell in love with her future trade.

To get by financially at the time, Soleil taught speech therapy in fluent Italian at the medical school of the University of Florence.

“Teaching provided me with a living while learning something new,” Soleil said.

Antique store still making sales after 13 years

Posted on April 17th, 2009 in Antiques,Economy,Features by jock

By Becky Wessels
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

There is no big sign on the street marking its location. The front entrance is actually on the side of the building and can be driven past without notice. However, Oddities and Such, an antique store owned and operated by Richard Watts, is about to celebrate its 13th anniversary on July 4.


Richard Watts enjoys collecting odd and unusual things to sell in his store, Oddities and Such, like this singing toy rabbit. Watts’ collection includes five singing Billy Bass fish, some discontinued laserdiscs and a flag portraying Elvis, among other objects.
Staff photo by Becky Wessels

At Oddities and Such, located at 501 W. Main St., Watts has been selling all sorts of antiques, used furniture and unusual items for the past 13 years in the store that his father built in 1948. The other half of the building is occupied by Ink Spot Copy Shop.

“I’ve been doing this about 18 years,” Watts said. For five years, he would sell antiques at a flea market where Carolina Fitness is located. He decided to move into the store property since his family owned the space.

Watts said he prefers to sell “items from the 1950s, lamps and waterfall furniture.”

Watts does not stock the store with extremely expensive items but with things he thinks are reasonably priced.

“I have fair prices on fair things. I look for different, unusual things,” Watts said.

Watts, who has lived in Carrboro his entire life, can’t believe he has been operating Oddities and Such for so long. “I’m just surprised that I’ve been here 13 years,” Watts said. “My life revolved around three years, and then things would change.”