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Designer Bookbinders / Society Of Bookbinders Joint Workshops

The Designer Bookbinders/Society of Bookbinders Joint Workshops began in 2004 when the two societies discussed the need to provide high-quality training and workshops in bookbinding subjects following the closure of many college courses. The joint enterprise has helped to build a closer working relationship between the two Societies and to promote the craft of bookbinding more widely. A series of six weekend workshops are held every year at different locations around the country and cover a range of topics from traditional techniques to innovative structures. Tutors include many Fellows of Designer Bookbinders, respected book restorers, and well-known bookbinders from the UK and overseas. Participants enjoy the excellent teaching and the opportunity to exchange skills and experience with fellow binders over a weekend.

The workshops are currently being organised by Nesta Davies (for Designer Bookbinders) and Josh James (for The Society of Bookbinders).

Joint Workshops 2023 – 2024

Welcome to our 2023-2024 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.

We have kept the course fees for this year’s programme at the same level as last year and hope you agree they present excellent value. Fees for each workshop are £185 for members or either Society, £205 for non members. There is a materials cost for most workshops which is payable to the tutor during the weekend.

Bursary help may be available for members of the Societies. If you are interested in applying for a bursary, and are a member of DB, please contact treasurer@designerbookbinders.org.uk.  If you are a member of SoB, please contact vicechair@societyofbookbinders.com

If you belong to both Societies you should apply to only one of them for a bursary.

To book please click on the button next to the course you are interested in. For any queries or further information regarding the workshops, or if the workshop you wish to attend is full and you wish to be added to the waiting list, contact Nesta Davies at db.jointworkshops@gmail.com.

Click here for Terms and Conditions


Paper covered In-boards binding
Arthur Green
Green’s Books, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire, WR8 0EA
16-17 March 2024

Prior to the adoption of cloth covered case bindings as the principle binding style in England in the 1830s, the in-board style was predominant. Bookbinders had simplified and refined binding in-boards to its bare essentials; leather had given way to paper for covering, edges were left un-cut, and gold tooling had been replaced with printed paper covers and spine labels. However, for even the cheapest work, books were still sewn by hand and boards were still laced on before covering.

Many of these paper covered in-board bindings from the first decades of the 19th century have perished and those that survive are often overlooked due to their status as temporary bindings, but many do survive, and many have proven to be remarkably robust. This two-day workshop celebrates this early 19th century style. Students will make a model, from folding sections and sewing 2-up on a sewing frame to rounding and backing, lacing on boards and covering.

Suitable for…those with some bookbinding experience.

There will be a £30 materials fee for this workshop.

Arthur is an independent book conservator who owns and runs Green’s Books Ltd. near Malvern in the West Midlands. Since graduating with distinction from a Post Graduate Diploma in Conservation from Camberwell College of Arts in 2008, he has worked at institutions including the Leather Conservation Centre, The British Library, Oxford Conservation Consortium, and Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. Arthur is particularly interested in the history of bookbinding and has published widely on the subject.


This workshop will be held at Green’s Books and has a maximum number of 6 students.


All tools will be provided, but you are encouraged to bring your own basic hand tools if you wish.

£30 materials fee.

Please see Terms & Conditions before booking this course

Sharpen up!
Peter Jones
Kelsall Community Centre, Cheshire, CW6 0SB
13-14 April 2024

There are a number of operations we undertake as binders that require sharp tools. The common wedge-shaped backing boards and the similar colouring/edge gilding boards will need the working edges refreshing using a plane. We might be bevelling boards (with a plane or spokeshave), using chisels in preparation for lacing on, or covering in leather requiring various knives and / or spokeshaves for paring tasks. For some, sharpening these tools can seem daunting; this short course aims to give you a little theory, some guidelines and advice on getting tools sharp initially, keeping them sharp, and some confidence.

Students will need to bring their own sharpening kit (oilstones, diamond stones, strops, whatever) and your tools to sharpen (planes, spokeshaves, paring knives, chisels). To check your success you also need items to work on (backing boards, gilding boards, book boards, leather for paring) plus workmate, bench hook and paring surface as appropriate, if you have them.

Suitable for…Beginners and Improvers.

Peter: “I might have been an economist but veered in the direction of furniture restoration, then carpentry, bookbinding and teaching. I’m particularly interested in the structure and mechanics of a binding and often use woods, plastics, multiple leathers or vellum. I have been a Fellow of DB since 1995 and have served on the Executive Committee over the years, as Treasurer and as President.”

This workshop will be held at Kelsall Community Centre and has a maximum number of 10 students.


Please bring your sharpening kit (oilstones, diamond stones, strops, whatever) and your tools to sharpen (planes, spokeshaves, paring knives, chisels). To check your success you also need items to work on (backing boards, gilding boards, book boards, leather for paring) plus workmate, bench hook and paring surface as appropriate, if you have them.

No materials fee.

Please see Terms & Conditions before booking this course

Over the Edge and Across the Boards
Kate Holland
Corsely, Wiltshire, BA12 7PA
18-19 May

There are thirteen different planes on a book where you can express your creativity and edges and leather comprise over half of them. On day one we will be learning to prepare perfect edges ready for colour or graphite – please note this won’t be an edge gilding class. And on day two we will be exploring myriad different techniques of manipulating and transforming leather, taking a fair calf or an alum tawed goat skin and creating unique textures and effects with dyeing, impressing, craquele and resist to name a few.All materials and tools will be supplied. Just bring your imagination. And a book with edges if you wish though not necessary.

Suitable for…all levels.

There will be a materials cost of £15 for this workshop.

Kate is a multi award-winning artist bookbinder, specialising in contemporary fine bindings to commission or for exhibition. Working from a converted cowshed, on the outskirts of Frome, she uses traditional materials and techniques to produce a unique, modern binding that reflects the text, illustrations and typeface of the book. She also works with individuals and private presses to produce the whole book, whether one offs or limited editions. She can advise on all aspects of book production from printing, through layout, to binding and boxes. She is a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders, has books in the British, Bodleian and Yale University Libraries as well as many public and private collections internationally and is a regular binder to the Booker prize as well as a recent QEST scholar. She is a very experienced teacher and has initiated many converts to the joys of bookbinding with patience and humour. 


This workshop will be held at Kate’s own bindery and has a maximum number of 7 students.


All materials and tools will be supplied. Just bring your imagination. And a book with edges if you wish though not necessary.

£10 materials fee.

Please see Terms & Conditions before booking this course

Endpapers for Fine Bindings
Kathy Abbott
Barony Centre, West Kilbride, KA23 9AR
8-9 June 2024

A workshop aimed at intermediate and advanced learners, designed to develop your skills, accuracy and cleanliness when making endpapers for fine bindings. You will be taught how to make three different types of endpapers which are suitable for fine bindings: a simple ‘made endpaper’; a hidden cloth-jointed endpaper, and a leather-jointed zig-zag endpaper. You will learn about the suitability of papers for endpapers and will go away with samples of each type. Not suitable for beginners.

Suitable for… those with some experience.

There will be a materials charge for this workshop of £15

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.


This workshop will held at the The Barony Centre, West Kilbride KA23 9AR and has a maximum number of 12 students.


Scalpel with lots of 10A blades
Pencil (a mechanical/propelling pencil is best)
300mm (12″) steel rule
A set square
A fine, pointed bonefolder
A teflon folder
A pair of small dividers
A largish clean and soft paste brush
A pair of tweezers
A small, flat, hog’s hair brush (approx. 1cm wide)
A pack of razor blades (as best quality that you can get)
A cotton apron
Two (or more) clean wooden pressing boards A4/A5 in size.
Clean blotting paper (lots) A4/A5 in size.
2 barrier sheets (0.25/0.5mm thick styrene sheets or acetate or equivalent.
As heavy a weight as you can carry (ideally 7–10lbs) or a knocking down iron.

And in addition, if you have any of the following:
A Brockman paring machine and a G clamp/a Scharfix paring machine.

£15 materials fee.

Please see Terms & Conditions before booking this course

Millimetre Binding
Dominic Riley
Northwich, Cheshire CW8 2NW
25-26 November – WORKSHOP OVER

Scandinavian elegance embodied. This workshop is a good introduction to working with leather, both by hand with a knife, and a using a paring machine.

The Millimetre binding is a quarter-leather style that is ingenious in construction and straightforward to make. Developed in Denmark during the 1940s as a response to leather shortages, it is a way of binding small, slim volumes using a minimal amount of leather – the name deriving from the fact that there is only 1mm of leather showing on the boards and corners.

It is sewn on flattened, frayed-out cords, has a gently rounded spine with a small but sharp joint. The boards are attached to the waste sheet prior to covering, with a simple paper and card hollow trapped between the board and waste sheet for strength. Good quality goatskin is used for the binding, which has leather headbands, a graphite top edge and pastepaper sides.

Suitable for … students with some bookbinding experience.

There will be a Materials cost of £30 for this workshop.

Dominic specialises in Design Binding and restoration. He has won over thirty prizes for his work, which is held in public and private collections worldwide. He is a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders and has served as President of the Society of Bookbinders. In In 2013 he won first prize in the DB International Competition. He spends about a third of his time teaching, both here and in the USA. He co-founded the Joint Workshops and the SoB Seminar, and is also co-founder of Book Camp UK. He has written the only full-length article in English on the making of the Millimetre binding (Bookbinder vol. 20, 2006).

This workshop will be held at Dominic’s own bindery and has a maximum number of 8 students.


Bone folders, various sizes, inc Teflon if you have one
Scalpel and blades, straight and curved
Metal mm ruler
Brockman or Scharf-fix paring machine*
Paring knife and strop*
Small paring stone*
Finishing press*
Glue & paste brushes
Sandpaper various grits
Small weight

*Bring if you have one. There will be plenty of spares in the bindery.

£30 materials fee.

Please see Terms & Conditions before booking this course

Everybody Loves a Box
Lori Sauer
Pewsey, Wiltshire, SN9 6HJ
10-11 February 2024 – WORKSHOP OVER

We are all familiar with the slipcase and the clamshell box. Both are important for protecting special bindings, but if you have budget constraints or a quick deadline then this is the perfect workshop for you. I use a number of box structures, made with heavy paper or card, that are just as robust and attractive as the more obvious choices. They involve accurate measuring and folding, little adhesive and sometimes the use of a magnet.

Over the weekend we will make at least 3 different boxes with enough time leftover to demonstrate a one-piece covering of a slipcase – no lumps or bumps – and doable in less than half an hour (once you learn the technique).

Suitable for… all levels.

There will be a Materials cost of £10 for this workshop.

Lori received a degree in Fine Art in the USA followed by an MA in English Literature. She moved to the UK in the early 1980s, studied bookbinding with Sally Lou Smith and David Sellars and set up her own workshop in the 1990s. Elected as a Fellow of DB in 2001, Lori served as its President from 2015-19. She runs open studio classes throughout the year alongside her programme of international master-classes, BINDING re:DEFINED. She has bound a number of the short-listed authors for the Booker prize.


This workshop will be held in Lori’s own bindery and is limited to 8 students as a maximum.


Selection of steel rulers – different lengths
Scalpel with 10A blades
Propelling pencil
Bone folders/teflon; pointy one for scoring
Spring dividers

Books for boxing: a selection and some with a flat back – nothing too large, try and stick to A5 or smaller, the thickness is not important.

£10 materials fee.

Please see Terms & Conditions before booking this course

DB/SoB Joint Workshops 2023 – 24 TERMS AND CONDITIONS

1. Registration will only take place on receipt of full course fees.

2. The fee does not include accommodation or travel.

3. The materials charge is payable to the tutor during the workshop.

4. Participants from overseas, it is possible to pay online by PayPal. Please ensure that a place is available on the workshop before paying.

5. Full details of venue and a list of tools and equipment to bring will be sent nearer the time of the workshop.

6. Cancellation policy: once the course fee has been paid and a place accepted, no refunds are available except in exceptional circumstances (or if a replacement can be found who is able to attend the Workshop in your place).

7. The organisers reserve the right to change the location and date of the workshop or to cancel, in which case you will be offered a full refund or if you choose, a place on any re-scheduled workshop.

8. By registering, you accept that none of the Society of Bookbinders, Designer Bookbinders, the organisers, the landlords of the premises where the workshops take place, nor the workshop leaders accept any liability for loss, damage, personal injury or consequential damages.