Bookbinding: decorative techniques for leather

Course Dates: 02/05/25 - 23/05/25
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: Keeley Street
A four day introduction into traditional and contemporary leather decorating techniques. Are you working with leather in the context of bookbinding, fashion, textiles, fine art or jewellery? This course will broaden your expertise.
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Full fee £299.00 Senior fee £239.00 Concession £194.00

Bookbinding: decorative techniques for leather
  • Course Code: VD251
  • Dates: 02/05/25 - 23/05/25
  • Time: 10:30 - 16:30
  • Taught: Fri, Daytime
  • Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Ina Baumeister

Course Code: VD251

Fri, day, 02 May - 23 May '25

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Centre for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This four day course will give you an overview and practical introduction to traditional and contemporary leather decoration techniques, such as onlay, inlay, cold gilding, textures, deboss and sculpting. Visual examples of the techniques will be available in the studio. Depending on the technique, these can be employed to embellish a huge variety of leather goods, such as leather bindings, panels, for example for bags and clothing, sculptural pieces and jewellery.
Each of the techniques will be introduced to you through visual examination and practical demonstration. We will look at the tools involved, such as scalpel, metal- and bone folders, paring knives, razor plane and their safe use, as well as more complex leather paring machines like the Scharf-Fix and the Brockman paring machine.
You will be given the opportunity to start exploring the taught techniques by creating a range of sample pieces for future reference.
Hand-outs with additional information on suppliers, techniques and directives for further exploration will be given during the course.

What will we cover?

- Leather: a brief introduction
- Leather working tools and their safe use
- Adhesives and their properties
- Textures and lines
- Debossing
- Edge paring
- Onlay
- Inlay
- Cold gilding
- Sculpting
Which techniques you will explore will depend on skill level and personal preference.

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

- Demonstrate a variety of leather decorating techniques
- Identify and use safely a variety of leather working tools
- Mix and use adhesives appropriately to suit a chosen application
- Start creating your own designs in leather.

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

The course is intermediate level. Some experience in working with leather and small hand tools is recommended.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions to support demonstrations, hand-outs and for health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.

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

You will be taught by practical demonstration, Group and individual tuition, hands-on practise and accompanying hand-outs. There will be no homework but independent practise between lessons can improve your skills. You might want to work on developing your designs on paper during the week. You will be advised on this during class.

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

You will need to bring an apron, some brushes, pencils and a note/sketchbook, detailed information will be sent to you before the start of the course. If you already have your own set of small hand tools and paring knives bring them with you. Leather for four pieces of work will be provided. Should you wish to work in different colours or on a larger scale you will have to buy additional supplies, some of which will be available at Citylit. Small pieces of bookbinding leather will come in handy and you are advised to bring some with you.

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?

- VD300 Bookbinding: gold tooling on leather
- VD412 Bookbinding: Gold tooling on paper
- VD361 Creative arts for bookbinding II: Leather dyeing techniques
- VD323 Bookbinding:leather paring and knife sharpening.

Ina Baumeister

Ina is a professional bookbinder and box-maker. She holds an MA in Book Art from UAL Camberwell and a master-craftsmanship from the German Crafts Council and Guild of Bookbinders in Munich. As a binder she works with contemporary arts organisation Book Works, the Tate Paper and Photography conservation department as well as other organisations and clients. Most of her work life is closely linked to contemporary art, art publishing and the creative industries. Besides working professionally as a bookbinder for nearly twenty years, Ina teaches and lectures for universities all over London on a wide range of courses, such as photography, printmaking, design, illustration, fine art and architecture. Ina also delivers tailored staff training to universities and other institutions such as the Tate and Houses of Parliament. Ina says that she rates bookbinding as an art in itself but also sees it as part of a toolkit for a wide range of creative professions.

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.