Book conservation and repair: leather-bound books

Course Dates: 11/01/23 - 29/03/23
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: Keeley Street
Learn paper repair including toning, lining and infilling, and the repair and conservation of tight and hollow-backed full, half or quarter leather-bindings. Ideal if you have some bookbinding experience.
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Full fee £609.00 Senior fee £487.00 Concession £396.00

This course has now started

Course Code: VD203

Started Wed, day, 11 Jan - 29 Mar '23

Duration: 12 sessions (over 12 weeks)

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What is the course about?

This is a structured course covering the repair and conservation of leather bound books. Attention will be paid to the maintenance of historical detail, with emphasis being placed on conservation principles.

What will we cover?

The course will cover the assessment, repair and conservation of a 'tight-back' and a 'hollow-back', leather bound book.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Re-back one tight-backed and/or one hollow-backed binding
- Undertake paper repairs
- Remove old spines
- Pare leather accurately
- Dye leather
- Cover a book with leather confidently.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

You are not required to have previous experience of repair and conservation work but will need a reasonable level of experience in hand bookbinding ie. have undertaken a basic or introductory course in bookbinding. You need to have some familiarity with the terminology used and be confident in handling materials and equipment. You must be able to pare leather and have your own paring knives. Some historical knowledge of bookbinding would be an advantage.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion. You should be able to use numbers and be able to do simple measurements and calculations.

Please look at the rest of the course outline carefully to decide if you may benefit from support in your English and Maths skills to help you to take part fully in this class.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Group tuition and demonstration, and individual attention as required. Some handouts will be provided, but you will be expected to keep and use your own working notes.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You must provide your own books to work on, and to have these available at the beginning of the course. Guidance will be given on the first day as to what is required and appropriate. The bindery is equipped with most tools, but you will be expected to use your own hand tools.
The class has some materials which may be bought, and you will be given guidance for providing your own.

Need art supplies? Our partner London Graphic Centre has everything you need from pencils to printing services, at 15% off.
To get an LGC discount card, students will need to show proof/ confirmation of enrolment of them being a student at City Lit. You can apply for our card in-store or by simply emailing with a scan or photo of relevant confirmation. The student discount does not apply to products that are already discounted or on offer. More information can be found here-

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Suitable further conservation classes include:
VD204 Book conservation: vellum,
VD 245, VD246 and VD247 Intermediate/advanced conservation workshop
VD300 Introduction to gold tooling.

Your tutor will be able to advise you during the course.

Peter Spain

Peter has been teaching Book Conservation and Restoration at City Lit since 2007. He trained in Craft Binding at The London College of Printing and then went on to do an Honours Degree in Paper Conservation at Camberwell. Previously, Peter worked as a freelance photographer, travelling extensively and always featuring craftspeople in his portfolio. Trips to Japan led to an interest in Papermakers and Bookbinders and he began to collect early documentary photography at a time when this was still an affordable pursuit. Fortunately for his future direction in life, photo albums are amongst the most fragile of codices and therefore most needful of repair. What started as a practical dabbling became a consuming passion and he has now run the West Grove Bindery since the late 1990s. Peter has a particular interest in the ephemeral and the over-looked, and specialises in trade and temporary bindings from the hand-press period. His classes are based in practical study and instruction is through demonstration backed up with handouts. Students engage in individual practice on the items of interest provided by themselves.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.