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Designer Bookbinders / Society Of Bookbinders Joint Workshops

The Designer Bookbinders/Society of Bookbinders Joint Workshops began when the two societies discussed the need to provide high-quality training and workshops in bookbinding subjects following the closure of many college courses in recent years. It seemed a sensible idea for Designer Bookbinders and The Society of Bookbinders to pool their efforts and expertise into a joint society venture rather than for each society to go it alone, and so in 2004 the first series of four workshops were set up by co-founders, Clare Prince (representing Designer Bookbinders) and Dominic Riley (representing The Society of Bookbinders).

Since then, a series of six weekend workshops have been held every year at different locations around the country and have covered a range of topics from traditional techniques to innovative structures. Tutors have included many Fellows of Designer Bookbinders, respected book restorers, and a few well-known bookbinders from overseas. From the feedback we received in those early days, it appeared that participants not only enjoyed the excellent teaching at the workshops, but also the opportunity to exchange skills and experience with fellow binders over the weekend and to make new contacts and friends. The joint enterprise has also helped to build a closer working relationship between the two societies and promote the craft of bookbinding more widely.

Clare Prince and Dominic Riley continued to organize and run the workshops for seven years until the end of the 2010/11 series when George Davidson kindly offered to take over. He was succeeded by Alan Fitch and Claire Weaver, then followed by Sarah Burnett-Moore, and the workshops are currently being organized by Nesta Davies and Sarah Burns.

Joint Workshops 2022 – 2023

Welcome to our 2022-2023 series of Workshops offered jointly by Designer Bookbinders and The Society of Bookbinders.

These workshops offer structured, intensive learning from established teachers in a friendly and cooperative environment. Places are limited to allow maximum learning and individual attention. Each day will usually start at 10am and finish by 5pm.

Fees for each workshop are £185 for members or either Society, £205 for non members. Bursary help may be available. Materials costs are payable to the tutor during the workshop.

For further information, and/or to book a place please contact Nesta.jointworkshops@gmail.com or 07984 001 830.

bookbinder tools


Making a Limp Vellum Bound Book
Gene Mahon
Kelsall Community Centre, Cheshire
22 – 23 October 2022

Limp vellum binding has gone in and out of fashion over time. Revived and refined by Arts and Crafts binders – notably Cobden Sanderson and the Doves Bindery – then neglected again until the Florence floods, it is a worthwhile and interesting way of binding, with the possibility for a range of developments – which we will discuss.

Working from the provided kit, we will start by making endpapers, then lining a sheet of old legal vellum. We will sew the bookblock on alum-tawed thongs, including those incorporating the endbands at the head and tail. Using a template we will cut out the cover from the vellum sheet, fold and crease it accurately, pierce it, lace it onto the bookblock, with the elegant locking corners, and all go away with our very own limp vellum bound blank book.
Suitable for … students with some bookbinding experience

There will be a materials charge of £25 for this workshop.

Gene worked first as a designer/art director, with a number of interesting clients. He then took a B.A. degree in conservation of art on paper and an M.A. in book conservation. While running his conservation practice, working with some of the country’s leading antiquarian bookdealers and artists, he also taught bookbinding at a London adult education institute. He was for a time the Secretary of the London and South region of the Society of Bookbinders.

Fill that Page!
A bookbinder’s guide to creative design practice
Sue Doggett
Corsely, Warminster
4 – 5 November 2022

Dig out your paint boxes, coloured pencils, inks and messy materials for a weekend of practical, experimental creative work. Explore how to approach that blank piece of paper and the beginnings of a design. This weekend course will give you a range of techniques to try out and will challenge you to fill that page. For those who wish to develop their paper into pages, there will be further discussion on how to take your 2D work into a number of simple book forms. The two days will include a series of demonstrations, practical creative exercises and plenty of guided workshop time. Sue will also talk about her own approach to creating artists’ books and bindings and how to build the content of a book, starting from scratch.

Suitable for … anyone who thinks they aren’t creative or would like to refresh their approach to creative bookbinding and book arts. No experience, some experience or looking for a change, everyone is welcome.

There will be a materials charge of approximately £8 for this workshop.

Sue is an artist who creates hand-made books and bindings. She gained a first class degree in Visual Studies and Art History from Oxford Brookes University, an MA in Design from Brighton University and was elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 1996. Sue has lectured and led workshops in book arts in the UK, Europe and the USA and is currently editor of ‘The New Bookbinder’. Sue works to public and private commission including the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Tight-Back Spine Removal.
(Not always an impossible task?)
Peter Spain
Shepton Mallet, Somerset
4 – 5 February 2023

This 2-day workshop will explore the practicalities of tight-back spine removal with examples of various coverings from different periods in the hand-press era.
You will be guided in the use of consolidants and dressings to make appropriate choices when dealing with your individual volumes.
Lifting techniques will be demonstrated and areas of difficulty highlighted.
Alternative strategies to removal will also be touched upon.
Attendees should bring their own tools and books to work upon. Other materials will be provided.

Suitable for… those with some experience of leather book conservation

There will be a materials charge of not more than £5 for this workshop.

Peter is a conservation binding professional working mainly for Libraries and Institutions in the London area, looking after vintage collections and preparing individual items for display and exhibition. His area of special interest is in the development of trade binding throughout the hand press period and he is passionate about preserving our written history. He is a book conservation tutor at City Lit, London.

Perfect Sewing, Rounding and Backing and Spine Lining
Kathy Abbott
The Daffodil Barn, Wiltshire
4 – 5 March 2023

Do you struggle with rounding and backing your books? If so, it’s likely that your problems have started at the sewing stage. In this weekend workshop, you will learn how to create perfect sewing, which will enable you to round and back accurately and easily. You will then be shown how to line the spine to allow for flexible opening.

Suitable for…. all levels but some experience of sewing on tapes would be beneficial.

There will be a materials charge of £12 for this workshop.

Kathy served a four-year apprenticeship in bookbinding and then gained an HND from the London College of Printing, followed by a BA (Hons) Bookbinding from Roehampton University. She is a partner of Benchmark Bindery, set up in 2009 with Tracey Rowledge. She teaches at the City Lit and conducts many workshops across the UK and abroad. She is a founder member of the group: Tomorrow’s Past and is the author of “Bookbinding: A step-by-step guide”.

Airbrushing, Masking and Decorative Spray Techniques
Glenn Malkin
Castle Donnington, Derbyshire
1 – 2 April 2023

This will be a very hands-on workshop where participants will experiment with a number of ‘spray’ techniques for applying colour to a variety of covering materials. We will discuss using and maintaining an airbrush and explore masking techniques using different materials and approaches. There will be exercises to guide you into creating a range of effects and images but the emphasis will be on play and creativity, culminating in creating a case for a book using selected techniques of your choice from the weekend.

Participants will be encouraged to bring along their own airbrush kit to maximise the creative time available and advice will be provided in advance around what and where to get this. (A suitable airbrush kit with air canister should cost less than £50.)

Suitable for… anyone! No experience of airbrushing is necessary, nor is a belief that you have to be ‘good at art’ to get a great result.

There will be a materials charge of £20 for this workshop.

Glenn has been a professional bookbinder for around 15 years. He has won numerous awards for his design bindings in Designer Bookbinders and the Society of Bookbinders competitions and was elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 2022. He frequently uses airbrushing as a technique in his design bindings. Glenn also carries out more routine bookbinding work for his customers including repairs, re-binding, new bindings, boxes and slip cases. He is based on the East Yorkshire coast, offers tuition and runs occasional workshops locally and elsewhere.

Magnetic Boxes
Gillian Stewart
Juju Books, Glasgow
3-4 June 2023

Learn how to incorporate magnets into both the closure and engineering of a box. We’ll use Neodyniam magnets, taking care to make these invisible and sleek, adding a magic snap to our boxes. Students will learn how to handle magnets, how to create flush magnetic inlays in board, simple box construction and how to turn in a box with both cloth and paper. Students will leave with two boxes with different mechanisms, an important tool to help with recessing magnets, and the knowledge to carry on their magnetic adventures!

Suitable for… beginners who are good with their hands

There will be a materials charge of not more than £30 for this workshop.

Gillian is a prize-winning bookbinder based in Glasgow where she runs Juju Books bookbinding studio. She specialises in making short run creative books and boxes for artists, designers and book lovers. As well as working to commission, she also teaches regularly from her studio and on behalf of organisations and colleges. She’s a regular exhibitor with Designer Bookbinders where she is a Licentiate, and is past Chair of the Society of Bookbinders in Scotland. Her work is held in national and private collections.