Category Archives: Workshops

BAGCD Stage 2 Bookbinding workshops

This week I had two days of workshops with Stage 2 students in the print room. On Monday we did a Swiss binding, i.e. a multi-section sewn bookblock with a wraparound card cover, and a slipcase to keep the book in. On Tuesday we made a Japanese multi-section book with a paper cover hinged onto the first and last section of the book. This style of book is unusual as the sections don’t have the usual holes pierced for sewing, but they have small slits cut into the fold which means the sewing thread is sunken into the section. It also has a rather confusing sewing style which gets easier with a bit of practice but is quite difficult when you do it for the first time. In the afternoon we made another slipcase .

For reference, I recommend the following books:

Japanese Bookbinding. Instructions from a Master Craftsman, by Kōjirō Ikegami. It describes step-by-step with lots of illustrations how to make the multisection book (retchōsō) which developed in the Heian period (794-1185). It also contains instructions for different stab bindings and a variety of beautiful book cases.

Bookbinding. A step-by-step guide, by Kathy Abbott. Detailed instructions for the slipcase, plus many more bookbinding and boxmaking projects.


Swiss binding with slipcase
Swiss binding with screenprinted inner cover and slipcase
Swiss binding in slipcase
Japanese bookbinding workshop
Japanese multi-section binding with screenprinted cover
Japanese multi-section book
Japanese multi-section book with recycled screenprint as a cover
Japanese multi-section binding with Italian pattern print cover
Japanese multi-section binding with Italian print cover
Japanese books in slipcases
Japanese books in slipcases
Finished! Japanese book in slipcase
Finished! Book and slipcase

Bookbinding for Artists

My course Bookbinding for Artists is finished. I enjoyed it very much, and we got more ground covered than I would usually expect in one week. I think this was partly due to the size of the group (only 5 students) but also partly due to them putting a lot of effort in. We made a Codex binding, a Coptic binding, a Japanese binding, two Concertina books, a dos-a-dos book, a long-stitch binding, and a Solander box. Well done to all my students. I hope you all carry on making books!

This book is a double-sided book, or dos-a-dos book. Each side contains only one signature and is sewn in a simple pamphlet stitch.

double sided book
A dos-a-dos book.

Coptic stitch books. Sewing instructions can be found in Keith Smith’s book “Books without paste or glue”.

Spine of a book sewn in Coptic stitch
Spine of a book sewn in Coptic stitch

Beautiful Coptic stitch book made by Asako.
Beautiful Coptic stitch book made by Asako.

Quite a challenge: Making a Solander box. This project took nearly two days but the results were well worth the effort!

Paolo and Kerree making Solander boxes
Making Solander boxes

Valentina lining her box with her handmade marbled paper.
A student lining her box with her own handmade marbled paper.

Yasuko lining her box.
Lining the box.

Asako's solander box.
Finished solander box.

Asako's solander box fully opened – lovely!
Finished solander box fully opened – lovely!

This accordion cardholder book is taken from Esther K. Smith’s book “How to make books”. In her version the cover is made out of playing cards; for my version I lined greyboard with screenprinted paper left over from another project.

Accordion cardholder book.
Accordion cardholder book.

These long-stitch books have their signatures sewn directly onto the cover.

Long-stitch books
Long-stitch books

Asako and Yasuko with their long-stitch books.
Students with their long-stitch books.

Bookbinding for Artists, 15-19 August 2016

I’m running my Artscom class Bookbinding for Artists this week in Byam Shaw in Archway. I have five students, which is a good size for a class. Not too small, not too large (no long queues for the board chopper!) We started off with a Codex binding today, and we made some beautiful books. I was worried about finishing on time, but miraculously we were finished at 3:55pm – pretty impressive, we even had 5 minutes left to wash the brushes!

Photo of folded pages, ready for sewing.
Signatures ready to sew.

Students sewing books
Students sewing books

Students sewing books
Students sewing books.

Finished books.
Finished books.

Finished books.
Finished books.

Bookbinding for 2nd year BAGD students, 5 March 2014

Yesterday I had so many students I had to divide them up into a morning and an afternoon group. That meant we did not have time to make a codex binding. Instead we did three different bindings: a perfect-bound book, a Japanese binding, and a Coptic binding. The Coptic was definitely the most demanding, luckily I only had a small group left at that point – it can get very complicated when you try to teach a large group how to do all the sewing correctly.

I had some interest for box making too so I’ve put up some photos of boxes I’ve made, you can find them on the box making page.

A perfect bound book.

Japanese and perfect bound books

Spines with Coptic stitch

Coptic stitch.

Two books in Coptic stitch