Intermediate- Advanced Bookbinding Classes

There are a few upcoming study opportunities in the New England region especially for those of you with some experience.  We draw your attention to the following courses with two fantastic binders and teachers, Peter Geraty and Dominic Riley.

The Garage Annex School in Easthampton, MA will host Peter Geraty for “Vellum Binding Over Boards” in September.

Dominic Riley will be at North Bennet Street School in October to teach “The Classic Leather Binding” as well as a two-day workshop on hand tooling WITHOUT gold leaf.

Descriptions of all three workshops below, but please see the two school’s web sites for more information and registration. and

From GAS:

Vellum Binding Over Boards with Peter Geraty
September 18–19, Saturday–Sunday

If Vellum Binding Over Boards is an intriguing yet intimidating prospect, come get over the fear of working with this beautiful hygroscopic material by attending Peter Geraty’s two-day workshop. You can read the workshop description below.

Please join us this September in the Garage Annex School‘s spacious classroom here in Easthampton, MA.  

Vellum has a mystique and a mind of its own. The mystique we admire, the mind we must work with!

Warped boards and broken hinges are evidence of vellum’s unruly nature—and these flaws are common in both historic and new bindings.

The hygroscopic quality of this wonderful material allows it to expand and shrink as the environment changes, so unskilled use of vellum can lead to disappointment. On the other hand, the strength of vellum makes it an ideal material for bookbinding, and its successful use important to add to your skill set.

During this workshop you will learn how to create a vellum binding over boards which will accentuate the beauty of vellum and compensate for its tendency to wander.

The style known as floating board (in which the vellum is glued to a thin upper board) allows the vellum to expand and contract with less warping of the boards. There is no way to stop vellum’s movement but we devise effective ways to work with it.

You will construct a Dutch style (laced-on case with a French groove) vellum binding. Over the course of two days you will sew the textblock, hand sew endbands, make the vellum cover and case it in. Throughout, we will discuss the nature of vellum, how it is made, and look at examples of vellum bindings.

There is an expectation of intermediate skills in bookbinding to take this workshop. If you would like to discuss your qualifications or have any questions about the class itself please feel free to contact Peter at

You may enjoy visiting Peter’s web site:

From NBSS:

The Classic Leather Binding with Dominic Riley
Mon-Fri, Oct 18-22, 2010, 8:30am-4:30pm

Experience the pleasure of working with beautiful calfskin and learn the fundamentals of decorative blind tooled covers. This intensive master class will introduce students to the Cambridge Panel, a classic (and luxurious) English leather binding popular throughout the eighteenth century, and which is very useful for creating handsome ‘period’ bindings. The sections will be sewn on raised cords, using the sewing frame, traditional ‘made’ endpapers will be sewn on, after which the book will be trimmed, rounded and backed. The edges will be sprinkled and polished, two-color headbands sewn on, and the cords frayed out and laced into boards. The book will be covered in a smooth calfskin, and particular attention will be given to careful and accurate paring using the English knife and spoke shave, ensuring a neat fit over the binding. The leather will be pasted out and applied to the book, taking care shaping it over the raised bands, forming the headcaps, and making neat, simple corners. The binding will be decorated in the Cambridge Panel style, which first involves sprinkling with leather dye using an ingenious template to create the classic paneled effect. Then, using a few tools and working to a traditional formula, the covers will be enhanced by some very handsome blind tooling. The endpapers are then put down, and the binding is polished and waxed. Traditional craft bookbinding experience recommended. Experience with leather and knife sharpening also recommended. The tuition includes a fee for leather and other materials, but students are expected to provide their own hand tools.

Introduction to Hand Tooling with Dominic Riley
Sat & Sun, Oct 23-24, 2010, 8:30am-4:30pm

A thorough introduction to the art of hand tooling—in blind, with carbon and with real gold foil. A feast of tips, tricks and techniques. Hand finishing on books requires patience, skill and much practice, and handling gold leaf can present endless frustrations to even the most accomplished bookbinder. This class will show students how to execute neat, pleasing finishing without using gold leaf, thus concentrating on the fundamental skills necessary to achieve good lettering and decoration of spines and boards. The class will concentrate on five techniques: blind tooling on leather; tooling with carbon paper to achieve a solid black result; freestyle carbon tooling on leather or cloth boards using the one line wheel; tooling titles with real gold foil, using a template to ensure accuracy; and tooling gold lines using a fool-proof guide. All these techniques have been developed or learnt by Dominic over the years in various binderies, where, for reasons of expediency, finishing with gold leaf was not practiced. The alternatives, as you will see, are very impressive! The tuition includes a fee for materials, but students are expected to provide their own hand tools.


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