Karen Hanmer

Artists' Books & Installation

Teaching

Karen Hanmer Book Arts offers workshops and private instruction to working practitioners and dedicated hobbyists, focusing on a solid foundation in traditional binding skills.

To register for a workshop not held at the Karen Hanmer Book Arts studio, please contact the sponsoring organization. Workshops are two days unless noted, but many can be abbreviated or expanded. To schedule a workshop for your group, use the Contact form.

Private instruction or special workshops on topics of mutual interest are also available.

I can also provide onsite training.

In addition, structure models made as workshop demos are available at my Etsy shop, ExtraBindings. Some include the handout from the workshop.

Note on instruction at Karen Hanmer Book Arts

Karen Hanmer Book Arts is a private studio in Glenview, IL, in north suburban Chicago, roughly 20 minutes from O’Hare airport, not at all near Midway. Small class size of three to five students ensures ample personal attention and a collegial atmosphere.

Individual instruction in my studio is available unavailable until further notice. Private online instruction is available.

The studio is attached to my home and up a half flight of stairs. Please follow the driveway and enter by the side door. Note to those with allergies: A friendly cat is a frequent visitor to the studio. Here in deep suburbia street parking is plentiful, food within walking distance is not. Please bring a lunch.

Workshops held in the Glenview studio run 9:30 am - 5:30 pm unless noted in the descriptions below. Please do not arrive more than 15 minutes early. The goal is to end workshops on time as scheduled, but timing must depend upon the group’s overall speed and skill level. Please be flexible within an hour on workshop ending times.

For lodging, search for hotels near the zip code 60025, scroll to the bottom of this page for exact address. Pace Suburban Bus #272 runs down Milwaukee Avenue from West Lake Ave. to Linneman, a short walk from the studio.

Glenview is served by commuter rail, Metra’s Milwaukee District North line. Get off at Glenview (not The Glen/North Glenview). The studio is a ten minute cab ride from the station. The Pace Suburban Bus #210 runs very infrequently several blocks from the train station down Glenview Road to Greenwood Road, a fifteen minute walk from the studio.

Registration

To register:
US students only please go to my online store.
International students please contact me
to pay via PayPal.

Please read the prerequisites carefully and you may contact me for help in determining which workshop is right for you. Librarians, designers, printers and similar book professionals with limited binding experience are welcome in most intermediate level courses.

A $100 deposit will reserve your space, balance due one month before the workshop begins. A tool list will be sent upon receipt of deposit.

Refund policy: The $100 deposit is non refundable. For online workshops: no refunds will be issued after workshop supplies are sent. For in-person workshops: the remainder of the workshop fee is refundable up to fourteen days before the workshop or private instruction begins. Forfeited fees cannot be applied to another workshop.

For workshops held offsite please contact the sponsoring organization for their registration and refund policies.

Student testimonial

Daily, I'm singing your praises! I've practically worn your handout out, covering all the leads to websites, new books, and general instructions. Yes, I finished all the books from class and am now working on a second and third of some. Plus, I am starting to feel comfortable enough to start exploring some of my own options. You created a class that just keeps on teaching long after we have all gone home.

2020 Workshop Schedule

Please scroll down or follow links for full descriptions

Workshops at Karen Hanmer Book Arts, Glenview, IL

Karen Hanmer Book Arts will not be offering 2020 workshops in the Glenview, IL studio. It’s become clear that the social/physical distancing crucial to keeping ourselves and our community safe and healthy will be necessary for some time into the future. This distancing would be challenging in a small group setting where we share supplies, tools, equipment, and our experiences.

Instead I am offering live, online workshops.

The format is a series of live tutorials, two tutorials will cover the amount covered in one day of in-person instruction. The tutorials end with a Q&A/supervised work session when students may begin that day’s project. The tutorials will be recorded and the videos will be available for 90 days for students to rewatch as needed.

Student thoughts on the online workshops:

This was a very good experience.  Much closer look at steps and technique than you get in a large group workshop.

The online teaching is actually not so bad, as we can see closely how you work.

Thanks for the excellent class!  I picked up so many details and techniques, but mostly improved my knowledge and skill with leather.

To register:
US students only please go to my online store.
International students please contact me
to pay via PayPal.

Workshop fees include supplies unless otherwise noted. Registration closes one month prior to start date to allow time for preparing and shipping supplies. There is a surcharge and additional two weeks notice needed to cover shipping and transaction fees for non US students.

Please contact me if you would like to see other topics offered online or as self-guided tutorials. Resistrationis open for the Fall workshop series.

September 16, 23, 30 | Wednesdays, 3 sessions | Medieval Slinky
October 3-4 | Sa & Su, 2 sessions | Jacob's Ladder and Triangle Book
October 10-11 | Sa & Su, 2 sessions | Drum Leaf and Sewn Boards Bindings
October 17, 24, 31 | Saturdays, 3 sessions | More Sewn Boards Bindings
November 7, 8, 14, 15 | Sa & Su, 4 sessions | The Split Board Binding
Self-guided study only, no online sessions | The Medieval Girdle Book
Timing flexible | Private online instruction

Workshops held offsite

Please contact the sponsoring organization to register.
(None currently scheduled, please check periodically.)

Medieval Slinky

Live online workshop
September 16, 23, 30 | Wednesdays | 3 sessions | $325
Workshop fee includes shipping and all supplies. (non US students please add a $40 surcharge for shipping and transaction fees)
6-8:30 pm Eastern Time / 5-7:30 Central / 4-6:30 Mountain / 3-5:30 Pacific

To register:
US students only please go to my online store.
International students please contact me to pay via PayPal.

This modest binding is stripped down to its ancient, elemental structure: paper, linen, wood. Packed sewing on double cords and structural endbands produce a binding that is strong, flexible and sculptural. A text block of rescued dictionary pages provides subtle pattern and a graceful flow. The first dayof an in-person workshop will be spent sewing a book as thick as time permits, the second will be spent sewing endbands and lacing on wooden boards.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

This workshop requires a sewing frame, 1/4" or 6 mm chisel, and Dremel or drill.

Three Playful Structures: Flag Book, Triangle Book, Jacob's Ladder

Live online workshop
Jacob's Ladder and Triangle Book
(no flag book)
October 3-4 | Sa & Su | 2 sessions, one book per session | $250

Workshop fee includes shipping and all supplies. (non US students please add a $35 surcharge for shipping and transaction fees)
12-3 pm Eastern Time / 11-2 Central / 10-1 Mountain / 9-12 Pacific

To register:
US students only please go to my online store.
International students please contact me to pay via PayPal.

These artists’ book structures function on numerous levels: as a codex held in the hand and read page by page in sequence, as a sculpture, and as a delightful object to play with. All can be made in a home studio with minimal specialized equipment. Instruction will focus on both craft and content. Students will have the opportunity to examine a variety of finished pieces and models. Importance of creating and refining prototypes will be stressed.

On Day 1 of this two-day workshop students will make a Triangle Book and a Jacob’s Ladder. On the morning of Day 2 students will construct a flag book model from kits provided by the instructor and in the afternoon make one or more using their own imagery.

Variations on the Sewn Boards and Drum Leaf Bindings

Live online workshop
Drum Leaf and Sewn Boards Bindings
October 10-11 | Sa & Su | 2 sessions, one book per session | $250

Workshop fee includes shipping and all supplies. (non US students please add a $35 surcharge for shipping and transaction fees)
12-3 pm Eastern Time / 11-2 Central / 10-1 Mountain / 9-12 Pacific

The Sewn Boards binding is an elegant, modern adaptation of an ancient binding.

The Drum Leaf binding is the perfect structure for printmakers, photographers, or anyone who desires to present visual narratives with no sewing thread to interrupt the flow of imagery. Because a drum leaf book is made of single-sided folios, not signatures, the complexities of imposition are not necessary when laying out text.

Both structures can be dressed up or down with a variety of spine treatments and edge decoration techniques. The books open very flat. They can be constructed quickly, are perfect for edition work, and can be made in a sparsely equipped home studio.

In this two day workshop, students will make four book models, and experiment with various spine wrappers, decorative spine linings and board finishing options.

A detailed handout will be provided with instructions for all the structures and techniques presented.

Additional images of Sewn Boards and Drum Leaf bindings here.

Note: This is an intermediate-level workshop. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: folding, marking up, sewing. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting. Librarians, designers and similar book professionals with limited hands-on experience are also welcome.

Duration: As a one basic level day workshop, students could make one Sewn Boards and one Drum Leaf binding only, or focus on only one of the structures and one variations. As a half-day workshop, students would make one drum leaf binding.

More Sewn Boards Bindings

Live online workshop
October 17, 24, 31 | Saturdays | 3 sessions, one book per session
| $325
Workshop fee includes shipping and all supplies. (non US students please add a $40 surcharge for shipping and transaction fees)
12-3 pm Eastern Time / 11-2 Central / 10-1 Mountain / 9-12 Pacific

To register:
US students only please go to my online store.
International students please contact me to pay via PayPal.

This workshop highlights the versatility of the Sewn Boards binding by presenting three variations on the classic quarter cloth structure. The first is based on the first Sewn Boards prototype Gary Frost made in 1987. The second can be constructed very quickly. It is folded into a sewn-in paper wrapper that can unfold into a wide panorama for display. The third is an elegant book covered in a single piece of bookcloth or decorative paper.

All three are perfect for edition work and can be made in a sparsely equipped home studio.

Note: This is an intermediate-level workshop. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting. Librarians, designers and similar book professionals with limited hands-on experience are also welcome.

The Split Board Binding

Live online workshop
November 7, 8, 14, 15 | Sa & Su | 4 sessions | $400
Workshop fee includes shipping and all supplies. (non US students please add a $40 surcharge for shipping and transaction fees)
12-3 pm Eastern Time / 11-2 Central / 10-1 Mountain / 9-12 Pacific

The robust, nineteenth-century Split Board Binding is a perfect structure for beginning to work with leather. The paring requires minimal finesse, and the modest leather headcap is easy to form.

In this two to three day workshop you will become more comfortable working with leather and explore which features of a binding are necessary for function and protection of the text block, and when to consider additional refinements. Students will reinforce their forwarding skills including constructing reinforced endsheets, preparing boards, rounding and backing, how to line the spine for support vs. aesthetics, and paring leather.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, measure and apply spine linings, hone and sharpen a leather-paring knife.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: two or three days depending on number of students and group’s overall level of experience.

The Split Board and Simplified Bindings can be combined for a five day Advanced Binding Intensive.

Private instruction

Private instruction is available online. $200 for a three-hour session or $25 for a 20 minute consult. Any supplies will be billed in addition. Please contact me to arrange. US students fees payable through my online store. International students please contact me to pay via PayPal.

The Medieval Girdle Book

Self-guided tutorial only, no online sessions
$240 includes complete supply kit and 28 page instruction manual. This is an advanced level project intended for students experienced with traditional binding and requires some wood and metal-working and the following tools: sewing frame, finishing press, Dremel or drill, low angle block plane or rasp, a 1/4" chisel, pliers, strong wire cutters, and a set of needle files. Non US students please add $50 for additional shipping and transaction fees.

These kits are made to order. Please allow two to three weeks for delivery.

To purchase:
US students only please go to my online store.
International students please contact me to pay via PayPal.

The girdle book is a Medieval binding structure featuring a long extension of leather which could be attached to a traveler’s belt. The leather extension terminates in a decorative knot.

In this four-day workshop, students will construct a girdle book on the foundation of a typical Medieval binding:

Text block sewn on double raised supports; wooden boards shaped all around, with special attention given to the inside spine edge to match the text block’s shoulder, then laced on and pegged; sewn endbands; covered in vividly-colored suede leather; strap and pin closure, simple bosses at the corners, parchment page markers.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on cords. Some wood and metalworking tools are required.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: four days.

Read a student's blog post about this workshop Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

Medieval on the Go: The Girdle Book, complete instructions for crafting a girdle book with numerous illustrations, tool list and extensive bibliography is available directly from Lulu.com

Leather Binding Series

The basic structure of a fine leather binding has changed little over the past 300 years. The text block is sewn onto supports, the spine carefully shaped, and the boards laced on. The book is covered in leather that has been precision-pared for protection, flexibility, and a sumptuous presentation. This progression of workshops along with continuing work in their own studios between sessions will give students the skills to craft bindings that are both soundly-engineered and elegant, and help them develop the connoisseurship required to evaluate their own work for continued independent study. This series is intended for working practitioners and dedicated amateurs working independently outside the classroom.

Basic Leather Working for Bookbinding

In this two day workshop students will be introduced to the tools and techniques required for fine leather binding. Tools: English or Swiss paring knife, Scharfix, spoke shave. Techniques: lining boards to accept leather; paring for spines, corners, headcaps, and all-over thinning of the leather; paring and edgeparing for onlays; sharpening using microfinishing films; stropping; covering of a plaquette; forming corners and headcaps; adhesives and drying procedure for leather binding.

Basic Leatherworking for Bookbinding is a prerequisite for all workshops in the Leather Binding Series.

Note: This is an advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding.

Prerequisites: Forwarding Basics or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: two days.

Leather Binding I: Introduction to Leather Binding

In this five day workshop, students will build a solid foundation in fundamental binding and leather-working skills including sewing on flattened cords, rounding, backing, adding a hollow tube, paring, and covering.

Students will complete one full leather binding with sewn endbands and some blind tooling as time permits. Additional luxury features will be discussed, along with the evolution of the craft from Medieval to contemporary methods.

Read a student's blog post about this workshop Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, sew endbands, measure and apply spine linings, hone and sharpen a leather-paring knife. Students must provide their own paring tools.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals and Basic Leatherworking for Bookbinding or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: five days.

Leather Binding II: Raised Cords

In this five day workshop, students will further develop their binding and leather-working skills including sewing on raised cords, rounding, backing, paring, and covering.

Students will complete one full leather binding with sewn endbands, flexi endsheet with decorative paper, and simple blind tooling around raised bands.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, sew endbands, measure and apply spine linings, pare leather for a full leather binding, cover a full leather binding and prepare it for drying, hone and sharpen a leather-paring knife. Students must provide their own paring tools.

Prerequisites: Leather Binding I or equivalent. Students should be making leather bindings independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: five days.

Leather Binding III: Fine Binding

In this five day workshop, students will further develop their binding and leather-working skills including sewing on flattened cords, rounding, backing, paring, and covering. The focus will shift from mere protection of the text to an elegant presentation.

Students will complete one full leather binding with three-color sewn endbands, leather hinge, flexi flyleaves with decorative paper and champhered boards.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students skilled with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, measure and apply spine linings, sew endbands, pare leather for a full leather binding, cover a full leather binding and prepare it for drying, hone and sharpen a leather-paring knife. Students must provide their own paring tools.

Prerequisites: Leather Binding I and II or equivalent. Students should be making leather bindings independently, outside a workshop setting.

This workshop can run concurrently with Leather Binding I or II if student is able to work somewhat independently. Please contact me to discuss.

Duration: five days.

Advanced Fine Binding

In this six day workshop, students will refine their binding and leather-working skills.

Students will complete one full leather binding with decorated head, double-core sewn endbands, champhered boards, flexi-flyleaves, and leather edge-to-edge doublures.

Note: This is a fast-paced, masters-level workshop for students skilled with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, measure and apply spine linings, sew endbands, pare leather for a full leather binding, cover a full leather binding and prepare it for drying, hone and sharpen a leather-paring knife.

This workshop can run concurrently with Leather Binding I, II or III if student is able to work somewhat independently. Please contact me to discuss.

Prerequisites: Leather Binding I, II, and III or equivalent. Students should be making leather bindings independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: six days.

Contemporary Decorative Techniques for leather bindings


In this three day workshop, learn a variety of decorative techniques for use on leather bindings. These techniques require minimal equipment and modest leatherworking skill, and some can also be applied to cloth or paper. Techniques demonstrated will include: backpared onlays, inlaid lines, stamping texture into leather, feathered onlays, Lacunose (abstract sanded leather collage), craquele, various inlay techniques, laminating a paper illustration for use as an inlay, various methods of creating sculptural boards, transfer of computer-printed onlay shapes from paper to leather, and laser printing on leather.

Students’ completed set of four goatskin plaquettes together with a detailed handout covering all the techniques presented will be a valuable reference for future projects.

See examples of the techniques covered in this workshop here

Note: This is not an entry-level leather working course. Students must be proficient with edge-paring, use of the scharfix, covering boards in leather with paste, and forming leather corners, honing and sharpening a leather-paring knife. Students must provide their own paring tools.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals and Basic Leatherworking for Bookbinding or equivalent.Students should be making leather bindings independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: three days.

Inlay and Onlay Techniques

In this two day workshop, learn a variety of inlay and onlay techniques for use on leather bindings. Techniques demonstrated will include: backpared, feathered, flat and sculptural onlays; inlaid and incised lines; raised, flush and recessed inlays.

Students’ completed set of plaquettes together with a detailed handout covering all the techniques presented will be a valuable reference for future projects.

Note: This is not an entry-level leather working course. Students must be proficient with edge-paring, use of the scharfix, covering boards in leather with paste, and forming leather corners, honing and sharpening a leather-paring knife. Students must provide their own paring tools.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals and Basic Leatherworking for Bookbinding or equivalent. Students should be making leather bindings independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: two days.

Doublures: Leather Edge-to-Edge and Sunken Suede

Leather doublures in place of the more common decorative paper pastedowns are a sensuous and luxurious addition to a fine binding. Working on leather-covered plaquettes, students will create one leather edge-to-edge doublure and one sunken suede doublure.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: pare leather for a full leather binding, cover a full leather binding and prepare it for drying, hone and sharpen a leather-paring knife. Students must be familiar with making a binding with a leather hinge.

Students must provide their own paring tools.

Prerequisites: Leather Binding I or equivalent. Students should be making leather bindings independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: two days.

Binding Fundamentals

A handsome, functional book is built on a solid foundation of traditional forwarding skills. In this two-day workshop students will review and reinforce these skills, by going through all the steps of crafting a traditional binding prior to covering:

Finally, we will anchor the text block into a folded paper case.

Binding Fundamentals is a prerequisite for all advanced binding workshops.

Note: This is an intermediate-level workshop for students with some book arts experience and a strong desire to build skills. Librarians, designers and similar book professionals with no hands-on experience are welcome.

Duration: two days.

Endbands

In this two-day workshop students will learn a variety of endbands practicing first on flat corrugated plastic then sewing on rounded, backed text blocks: rolled leather, paper, or cloth endband; bead on the spine; the ubiquitous two-color bead at the front; three color bead at the front; and finally a multi-color double core endband.

A one-day Basic Endbands workshop will cover the bead on the spine and two-color bead at the front. A one-day Fancy Endbands workshop will cover the three-color bead at the front, and the multi-color double core endband.

Note: This is an intermediate-level workshop. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: folding, marking up, sewing. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: two days.

Biblio Tech: reverse engineering historical and modern binding structures (with a focus on board attachment)


The in-person version of this workshop begins with a hands-on lecture on a set of approximately twenty-five models of various historical and modern binding structures, with a focus on methods of board attachment. Similarities between historical and modern structures will be stressed. A chart giving brief structural descriptions of all the binding models presented will be provided to aid students in continuing their study.

Students will create ten binding structure models. These models will remain unfinished so engineering remains visible for future reference. A handout will be provided giving a rough outline of the steps to create the models made in class.

Structures include: Tacketed binding, Crossed Structure, Ethiopian, Medieval, Laced-on boards, Scaleboard, Split Board, Case Binding, Sewn Boards, Non-Adhesive Paper Case.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, and measure and apply spine linings.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: five days.

Read students' blog posts about this workshop: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

The models made in the Biblio Tech workshop are available in a boxed set, together with two additional structures and a forty-five page illustrated booklet outlining key structural features of each binding, and providing numerous references for further study.

A guidebook to the bindings made in the Biblio Tech workshops is available directly from Lulu.com

The Ethiopian Binding

The Ethiopian binding structure may have emerged as early as the fourth century and has been in use unchanged for centuries. This humble, elegant binding opens flat and is the inspiration for many contemporary “Coptic” book arts structures.

Characteristics include wood boards trimmed flush with the text block, paired sewing stations, and chain stitch-sewing that enters the board edge to incorporate board attachment. Historically the text blocks were made of vellum. Any covering would be done with goatskin. If the boards were to be left uncovered, no endband was added. If the boards were partially or fully covered in leather, braided leather endbands were sewn on after covering.

In this two-day workshop, students will make a full-leather binding with braided leather endbands and cloth board linings. We will begin by folding and punching signatures, and drilling holes into wood boards. If time permits, simple tooling will enhance the finished binding.

Note: This is an intermediate-level workshop. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: folding, marking up, sewing.

Two Limp Vellum Binding Styles: Doves Press and Kelmscott Press

Live online workshop Fall/Winter 2020

British Arts and Crafts era printers William Morris (Kelmscott Press) and T.J. Cobden-Sanderson (Doves Press) both chose to bind their iconic works in limp vellum cases. Because these bindings are so devoid of ornament, differing aspects of their construction such as the tone and figuring of the vellum, color of the sewing supports and thread, uniformity of the visible turn-ins, overlapping comers, and the organic slit edges (as opposed to trimmed) become design elements.

Students in this workshop will view examples and discuss these characteristics before constructing facsimiles of each.

Duration: two days. As a one day workshop, students construct a Kelmscott Press model only.

Note: This is an intermediate-level workshop. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: folding, marking up, sewing.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

The Springback Binding

The nineteenth century Springback Binding with its enthusiastic opening is ideal for journals, guest books, sketch books, or any application where it is desirable that the book open flat, and then some. The book both opens and closes with satisfying jolt.

The Springback Binding is also a perfect way to delve more deeply into traditional binding. The book features two-part “split boards,” reinforced “made” endsheets, and a “spring” made of layers of card and paper.

With its robust aesthetic, the Springback Binding is a great way to begin working with leather. The paring requires minimal finesse, and the modest leather headcap is easy to form.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, measure and apply spine linings, hone and sharpen a leather-paring knife.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: two or three days depending on number of students and group’s overall level of experience.

The Simplified Binding

The Simplified Binding developed by Sün Evrard has an elegant, streamlined look. Our workshop model will feature a spine of thinned leather, rolled leather endbands, and boards that are attached to the text block after being covered with decorative paper. Leather hinges finish the interior.

In this two to three day workshop you will become more comfortable working with leather and explore which features of a binding are necessary for function and protection of the text block, and the additional refinements that can transform a book into an elegant showpiece. Students will reinforce their forwarding skills including rounding, how to line the spine the spine for support vs. aesthetics, and paring leather.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, measure and apply spine linings, hone and sharpen a leather-paring knife.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting, and have some experience thinning leather on the Scharfix.

Duration: two or three days depending on number of students and group’s overall level of experience.

The Split Board and Simplified Bindings can be combined for a five day Advanced Binding Intensive.

Eighteenth Century Trade Binding

As the number of books being produced increased quickly after the invention of moveable (letterpress) type, binders who were still making books entirely by hand struggled to keep up. Numerous time-saving measures were developed during the first four hundred years of letterpress printing, between the mid-fifteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Yet, the basic structure of leather binding during this time remained the same: the bookblock was sewn onto supports, the spine was shaped, paper boards were laced on, and the book was covered in leather thin enough to be flexible but thick enough to offer support to the joints.

Students will make one full leather binding with handmade pasteboards, sewn endbands, sprinkled edges, marbled made endsheets, simple blind tooling.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, and measure and apply spine linings.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals and Basic Leatherworking for Bookbinding or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: four days.

The Medieval Binding

The Medieval binding may be the archetypal book: heavy wooden boards, partially or fully covered in leather, prominent bands on the spine, held shut by straps terminating in metal clasps.Though the materials differ, the construction of these bindings is surprisingly similar to how a fine leather binding is made today. Paper has replaced parchment for the text block; thick, dense paper has replaced wood for the boards; and the sewing is now often done on flat supports to present a smooth spine. The sewing supports are still laced into the boards, the boards still nest into the shoulder but with a different profile, spine linings still provide support though they now stop at the edges of the spine rather than extending onto the boards to function as levers to aid in opening. Carefully formed corners are now designed to be invisible rather than merely protect, endbands are now decorative only instead of structural elements that lace into the boards. Clasps are no longer necessary to hold the book closed.

In this four-day workshop, students will construct a small model based on a fifteenth century German binding in the collection of Stanford University: text block sewn on double supports; wooden boards shaped all around, with special attention given to the inside spine edge to match the text block’s shoulder, then drawn on and pegged; sewn endbands; covered in full alum-tawed leather; matching straps with premade clasps; tooling as time permits.

Note: This is a fast-paced, advanced-level workshop for students experienced with traditional binding. Students must be able to perform the following tasks proficiently and promptly: mark up, sew on supports, glue up, and measure and apply spine linings.

Prerequisites: Binding Fundamentals or equivalent. Students should be making sewn books independently, outside a workshop setting.

Duration: four days.

Gilding and Colored Edge Decoration Techniques

Decorated edges range from simple protection to a key design element. They can add a touch of elegance – or any other effect the binder desires.

In this two-day workshop students will experiment with a variety of edge decoration techniques including several gilding techniques using gold leaf, graphite, and a variety of techniques with color: solid color, sprinkling, sponging. Gauphering, sprinkling with metal leaf and hot tooling on edges with foil will also be presented.

With the omission of gilding, this workshop can be presented in one day.

A detailed handout will be provided with instructions for all the techniques presented.

Paper Bindings


For centuries paper has served as a quick, elegant, and economical covering material for books. This versatile material can create structures ranging from pocket notebooks to conservation friendly bindings to a case durable enough for a heavily-used manual.

This workshop can be condensed or expanded to fit a time frame of one to five days. Longer classes could begin with a session on making decorative papers, which would be used as endsheets and to cover our books.  

We will explore two to three book structures per day depending on skill level and workshop hours. Structures range from unsewn folded sheets to multi-signature books with structural and decorative sewing. Some of the books will have soft paper cases or wrappers, others may have stiff covers. Some will be sewn on supports. Most will be close to or completely nonadhesive.  

New binders will be introduced to basic tools, techniques and materials of the craft.

Experienced practitioners will discover how features from multiple bindings can be combined to create a new, custom structure to meet the requirements of any project.

All of these structures can be made in a sparsely-equipped home studio with minimal specialized tools or equipment.

This attractive set of models, together with detailed handouts, will be a valuable reference and inspiration for future projects.

Two Quick Notebooks

The Double Pamphlet with Tipped Wrapper is a satisfying solution for a two-signature text block. The signatures are sewn back-to back with a single pamphlet stitch. A simple wrapper of text-weight paper is tipped to the text block at the spine and at the fore edges.

The German Stiffened Paper Binding features a rigid cover. Thick card or thin boards are glued directly to the outer leaves. The book is covered in a single piece of paper that is fully-adhered to the spine and boards.

Duration: one day.

The hinged triangle book

This artists’ book structure functions on numerous levels: as a codex held in the hand and read page by page in sequence, as a sculpture, and as a delightful object to play with. Students will have the opportunity to examine a variety of finished pieces and models.

Discussion will include cutting triangles of consistent size and angle, techniques to ensure flexibility of the structure, how to determine a path through the structure for text and imagery, and various patterns for assembly. Importance of creating and refining prototypes will be stressed.

In this one day workshop students will make one or more models as time permits, with the triangles hinged to form different patterns and plans for adding imagery and/or text to future books.

Note: The Jacob’s Ladder structure can be added for a one day Engineering Marvels workshop, or add the Flag Book for a two day.

Flag Books

The foundation of Hedi Kyle's deceptively small and simple book "flag book" structure is an accordion folded spine. Flaps attached to both sides of each of the spine’s “mountain” folds allow the artist to fragment and layer a number of complementary or contrasting images and narratives. When the flag book spine is pulled fully open, the fragmented images on the flaps come together to create a large, panoramic image. This transformation is accompanied by a delightful flapping sound. The spine and covers provide opportunities for additional imagery.

In this two day workshop, students will make two different styles of flag book. For both styles a sample will be made from kits provided by the instructor, plus a more finished book with students’ imagery and hand written text will be made for one or both as time permits. This could also be conducted as a one day workshop, making only one of the two styles of flag book.

Students will experiment with complementary and contrasting text and images. The class will discuss the effects of different spine and page dimensions, direction of motion, and which images will be most successful for different book styles. Students will learn a tidy, non adhesive method of covering boards and use a jig to facilitate quicker, more precise assembly.

Before creating books using their own text and imagery, students will review books from the instructor’s collection, as well as discuss the success and possibilities for improvement of their book models. The instructor will stress the importance of prototype construction and critical thinking at the onset of a project.

While this is not a computer class, digital printing and setting up PhotoShop templates for pages, covers and spines will be demonstrated.

See additional images of flag books here

Download Hanmer's Bonefolder article that this workshop is based on here: (PDF 1.6M)

Artists’ Books/Artists’ Bindings

The book: text, imagery, sculpture. Ideas engineered into physical form. This workshop will lead you from simple folded and sewn pages to both multi-section books and complex experimental structures, all built on a sound foundation in traditional bookbinding, and made using a few hand tools and no specialized equipment.

Each day we will explore one traditional and one modern book structure, emphasizing both craft and content. A final day will be reserved for refining technique or using your library of models as a springboard to create a new, innovative structure. During this information-packed course you will build the knowledge, skills and inspiration to continue making books in your own studio.

Duration: four days.

Additional Text Blocks

The Binding Fundamentals, Leather Binding, Springback Binding, Split Board, and Simplified Binding workshops use a US letter-sized text block of 12 signatures, four folios each, 192 pages total. A ruled, paginated text block of this size is available here.