Born in Salem MA, Mary Elizabeth Pratt spent a major part of her early years on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. A voracious reader since childhood, Mitzi became interested in understanding book repair techniques to support her concept of starting a combination used book store/coffee house back in the 70s, an idea she abandoned after becoming enamored of the bookbinding process in binder David Bourbeau’s Northampton shop. After completing her apprenticeship with Bourbeau, Mitzi began a second apprenticeship with the renowned German master binder Arno Werner in Hadlyme, CT. Working in Arno’s atelier, her burgeoning interest was firmly supported by the old master’s knowledge, patience, and humor, where she also gleaned a greater understanding of “Old World” European culture (gardening, sauerkraut making, beekeeping, “water rusts your guts let’s have some schnapps”.)
In the early 1980s, Mitzi returned to the Pioneer Valley to form a partnership with fellow apprentice Lisa Callaway in Ms Callaway’s newly established bookbinding shop in Northampton. When Lisa retired from the business, Mitzi moved the bindery to her home in the hill town of Windsor, MA, followed by a return to Martha’s Vineyard where she has had the bindery in continuous operation since 1984.
In the late 1990s, Mitzi opened a satellite shop in Brooklyn NY, where she now shares a studio with her husband, Luthier Flip Scipio.