City Lit bookbinding: intermediate

Course Dates: 09/10/23 - 11/03/24
Time: 18:00 - 21:00
Location: Keeley Street
An intermediate-level course for students with some experience. Learn new skills and techniques. Develop and build on existing knowledge in traditional and contemporary bookbinding, including leather paring and fine binding.
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Full fee £639.00 Senior fee £511.00 Concession £415.00

Course Code: VD322

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Mon, eve, 09 Oct - 11 Mar '24

Duration: 20 sessions (over 23 weeks)

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

What is the course about?

This course is for students with some bookbinding experience who wish to build on their skills and experience and move towards an advanced level of competency. You will learn about structures, techniques, materials, terminology, tools and equipment and investigate historical and contemporary themes and examples. An important aim of the course will be to build the confidence and knowledge to be able to select and use design methods and techniques in individual bookbinding practice to a high standard.

What will we cover?

We will undertake and practice a variety of bookbinding techniques, including:
- Construction of made, cloth jointed, decorative or marbled endpapers.
- Making and using a sewing cradle.
- Construction of a textblock using a supported sewing structure
- Hand sewing 2 colour single core endbands.
- Developing forwarding techniques by practising rounding, backing and lining the spine of a text-block, and hand sewing endbands.
- Preparing laminated cover boards for lacing on to the textblock.
- Learning the principle behind, and how to form a spine hollow.
- Selecting, maintening and sharpening of paring knives, spokeshaves and associated tools.
- Choosing suitable leather for styles of bookbinding and preparing the leather using hand held knives, shaving tools and paring machines.
- During the course students will bind a book in half leather (leather spine strip and corners). There will be the opportunity for more experienced students to undertake more challenging options, subject to discussion.
- As a group we will look at book history and the design elements of contemporary book structures. We will touch on how bookbinding can relate to visual art and consider incorporation of design elements into individual work projects.

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

- Use techniques and sewing supports to sew a multi-section text-block on to supports for binding into covers
- Select and use the appropriate thread to create correct swell for a rounded and backed text-block
- Make endpapers appropriate for particular binding styles
- Use a vertical plough to trim the edges of a book
- Round and back a text-block correctly to fit laced-on boards
- Create a hand-sewn headband
- Make, prepare and lace-on laminated boards
- Line a text-block spine with a hollow
- Sharpen, maintain and be proficient with leather paring tools.
- Select, pare and attach leather to cover, or part cover a book.
- Incorporate design methods and elements in your bookbinding
- Move on to Bookbinding Improvers Workshop, and be aware of further study at an advanced level in fine binding or in conservation or artist’s books.

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

The course is aimed at students with some experience in bookbinding, (though not necessarily leather paring experience), who wish to further develop their skills. Some experience of bookbinding terminology would be beneficial. The course is not suitable for beginners. You will be expected to spend some time practicing sharpening paring tools during the class and this may not be suitable/comfortable for you if you suffer from wrist pain.

Prospective students should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions as well as use numbers, make simple measurements and calculate. Learning will be supported by demonstrations, hand-outs and safety information. You will be invited to take part in group discussion and be given the opportunity to work in pairs/small groups.

Please look at the rest of the course outline carefully to decide if you may benefit from support in your English and Mathematics 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?

You will be taught by demonstration, and group tuition with individual attention whenever required. We will also use printed course notes. You may be asked to take part in a small group and pair work within the course. You may occasionally like to do some personal research and complete or revise work at home during the course, but all practical tuition work will be completed during the sessions.

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

- You are encouraged to bring your own projects, incomplete projects or material to practice on.
- Some basic materials are included in the cost of the course. Other materials such as board and cloth can be
purchased in the classroom.
- Students are encouraged to bring some decorative/marbled paper if they wish to assemble ‘made’ endpapers.
- As this is an intermediate level course, students will be expected to provide for their own tools such as
bone folders, cutting knife, steel ruler, dividers, paste brushes etc. but you can seek advice about these from the tutor.
- Some communal tools are provided for use in the workshop.
- You will need to provide your own paring knives if you intend to practice paring leather. Your tutor will be able to advise you on these during the course.
- Please bring a sharp pencil and notebook to each class. You will be expected to make your own notes to
supplement any course handouts.
- You may like to bring an apron to protect your clothes.
- If you would like to buy art materials for your personal use in the course, the London Graphic Center offers a student discount.

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?

-VD320 Bookbinding: improvers' workshop
-VD198 Intermediate and higher
Specialist short courses
- VD338 Paper marbling
- VD357 Limp vellum binding
- VD434 Bradel binding
- VD316 Wooden boarded binding
- VD360 Bookbinding weekend: endband extravaganza.

Gavin Moorhead

Gavin Moorhead is a professional book conservator and conservation teacher. He is a Design graduate from RMIT and worked as a Graphic Designer before changing direction to take up a career in Conservation. Gavin says he became dissatisfied with consumerist creativity after becoming enlightened by conservation. Combining new aspiration with his passion for books, he trained in conservation techniques at the State Library of Victoria and went on to work on some of the most iconic items in cultural collections around the world. He came to the UK to pursue further opportunities and now, more than 30 years on, he is a senior conservator and conservation team leader at the British Library Centre for Conservation. In becoming a tutor in book conservation and bookbinding, Gavin sought to articulate the ethics of Conservation and to train students in the fundamental skills. After 10 years teaching at City Lit, he continues to enlighten and nurture aspiring book menders and makers.

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.