Education | SoB / DB Joint Workshops



In conjunction with Designer Bookbinders the Society organises an annual series of weekend workshops. These workshops offer structured, intensive learning from established teachers and are designed to stress the ‘hands-on’ approach where students complete a structure or technique following demonstrations from the teacher. The size of each workshop is limited to allow students to benefit from individual attention.

5-6 October 2013
Cutting Corners
Alan Fitch & Alan Wood
22-23 March 2014
Embroidered Leather
Hannah Brown
23-24 November 2013
A Box in a Box
Nicky Oliver
12-13 April 2014
Onion-skin Binding
Benjamin Elbel
18 January 2014
19 January 2014
Single-sheet/Dissertation Binding
Mark Cockram

The 2013/14 programme has been organised by George Davidson.

For full details about each of the five workshops, please choose from the tabs above.

Workshops usually take place on a Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm with suitable breaks.

The fee for each workshop is £140 plus a charge for materials provided by the tutor and payable ‘on the day’ (for Mark Cockram’s one-day workshop, the charge is £70 plus materials, etc.).

We hope you will be tempted – but please remember that the workshops tend to fill up very quickly, so sign up early to avoid disappointment.

For further information please contact Sarah Jarrett-Kerr.


Cutting Corners

Tutors: Alan Fitch & Alan Wood
Dates: 5-6 October 2013
Times: 10.00am - 5.00pm
Venue: Farthing Press, Llanymynech, Powys SY22 6QJ
Fee: GBP140.00 (plus GBP25.00 materials payable on the day)

Like them or loath them, corners are part and parcel of the life of a bookbinder. As with a lot of operations in bookbinding, practice makes perfect. But what about trying a different type of corner, a Pleated Tongue, a Universal, a Vellum Tipped?

Over the period of the workshop you will be shown, and have the opportunity to attempt, eight different types of corner, as well as discussing their merits and uses.

All corners will be in leather or vellum, so a paring knife and the ability to be able to use it would be a distinct advantage. Along with the three already mentioned we will also try: a Side Tongue corner, a Pleated Round corner, an Overlapping Pared corner, a Butt Mitre corner and a Vellum Boxed Corner.

Alan Fitch served a 6-year Letterpress Printing Apprenticeship at Portsmouth & Southampton Colleges of Art.  In 1977 he started The Farthing Press and Bindery.  In the early eighties he attended Norwich City College and gained a diploma in Bookbinding and Archive Repair.  He now lives near Welshpool, from where he runs a variety of Bookbinding courses in a converted barn.  He is also at present Managing Editor of Society of Bookbinders journal ‘Bookbinder’.

Alan Wood served a 6-year Bookbinding apprenticeship in London, studying under such binders as Edgar Mansfield, Ivor Robinson, Fred Austin and George Frewin.  After spending several years in the trade and lecturing at London College of Printing, he moved to Southampton to establish a bindery at the University.  In 1990 he moved to Gregynog as the resident binder.  He remained there until his retirement in 2005, having completed 50 years in the trade.


A Box in a Box

Tutor: Nicky Oliver
Dates: 23-24 November 2013
Times: 10.00am - 5.00pm
Venue: Kentish Town, london NW1
Fee: GBP140.00 (plus GBP25.00 materials payable on the day)

In this workshop, you will be making two small boxes, one that fits inside the other. The first box is a simple, two-tray drop-back box with a paper label and covered in Buckram cloth with paper linings. The second is covered in book cloth and has suede 'padded' linings. The case has a recessed spine to house a leather label.

Nicky writes: ‘I will prepare all of the materials in advance to save time and ensure that you will go home with a Box-in-a-box. But fear not!  I will demonstrate to you several times how to measure. The aim of this workshop is for you to have experience of different materials; it is also great for consolidating your hand skills. By the end of the two days, you will be box-making wizards!'

Materials and box kits will be provided at a cost of £25.

Nicky Oliver discovered bookbinding whilst studying for her Graphic Design and Illustration degree in Bath in 1996.  After working for over ten years in commercial binderies in London, she has established her own business, Black Fox Bindery, specialising in commissioned and design bindings, box- and label-making.  She became a Licentiate of Designer Bookbinders in 2010 and has won several awards in the last four Designer Bookbinders National Competitions, culminating with winning 'the Silver triple' with first prize for set book, open choice book and the Edgar Mansfield Medal for best book.  More recently, she became one of the Distinguished Winners in the Designer Bookbinders International Competition.


Single-sheet/Dissertation Binding

Tutor: Mark Cockram
Dates: 18 or 19 January 2014
Times: 10.00am - 5.00pm
Venue: Barnes, London SW13
Fee: GBP70.00 (plus GBP35.00 materials payable on the day)

This is a one-day workshop (book either for Saturday or Sunday) intended for the beginner or improver. 

With increasing numbers of higher education students, self publishing and print/bind to order, the Dissertation binding is the mainstay of many binderies. Though the dissertation binding is a simple structure, it is very flexible in end use, and is an important addition to the bookbinder’s range of skills. The workshop will concentrate on the production of a full buckram, flat back, case-bound book of some 100 single sheets with a simple title on the spine in gold foil. Variations in covering will also be explored.  Each step will be demonstrated allowing the participants to understand not only how to do it, but also why it is done. Along with the tips and tricks, production methods and continuity of output, participants will be shown how to make and use shaker boards and groovey boards (which they will keep).

Materials will cost £35, including the specialist shaker boards and groovey boards.

Mark Cockram studied Art and Design at Lincolnshire College of Art, bookbinding at Guildford College of Technology, Japanese bookbinding and related subjects at ‘Studio Livre@ (Tokyo) and London College of Printing (BA Book Arts and Crafts (Hons). He opened his first studio in Lincoln in 1992 and Studio Five, London, in 2003. He teaches and gives lectures in Studio Five, the UK, Europe, USA, India, United Arab Emirates, The Philippines and Japan.  Elected Fellow of Designer Bookbinders, member of the Society of Bookbinders, elected member of the Art Workers’ Guild, The Tokyo Bookbinding Club and part of the Bookbinders Collective.  Mark exhibits internationally on a regular basis, with his work represented in public and private collections worldwide.

He has not published a book on bookbinding!


Embroidered Leather

Tutors: Hannah Brown
Dates: 22-23 March 2014
Times: 10.00am - 5.00pm
Venue: Kentish Town, London NW1
Fee: GBP140.00 (plus GBP20.00 materials payable on the day)

You can create striking cover designs for bindings by using simple embroidery techniques. This workshop will teach you how to add attractive surface decoration to your leather, by adding sewn detail over coloured leather onlays.

For each of the fine bindings Hannah has made to date, she has made a sample book board. These are invaluable tools for practicing new techniques, working out colour combinations and are a brilliant physical record of each of her bindings.  The aim of the weekend is to work on a leather-covered book board of your own, working to a design of your choice.

Hannah will start by demonstrating a variety of different hand and machine stitches onto leather and paper, showing how to build up a design over coloured leather onlays. Following this, there will be time to practice some of the techniques before starting to work on your own personal board.

This workshop is more suitable for binders with good leather paring skills. Some pre-prepared materials will be required, further details will be posted out closer to the date.

Hannah Brown graduated with BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Crafts from Brighton University in 2004.  After graduation she began learning bookbinding at evening classes, and now binds in her home studio alongside working as a Technician at the V&A Museum.

She was elected as a Licenciate of Designer Bookbinders in 2009 and has won the Mansfield Medal in both the 2008 and 2011 DB Competitions. She is also a committee member of the Society of Bookbinders and co-organises the SoB International Bookbinding Competition.


Onion-skin binding

Tutor: Benjamin Elbel
Dates: 12-13 April 2014
Times: 10.00am - 5.00pm
Venue: Kentish Town, London NW1
Fee: GBP140.00 (plus GBP10.00-15.00 materials payable on the day)

This is a structure in which the spine is built up with layers of papers of different colours.  The way the spine grows from the centre to the outside, as well as the resulting pattern, was the inspiration for its name, onion-skin binding.

There are two different variations:  the album and the single-section binding. In the album, the spine layering acts as a continuous guard that incorporates the pages and compensates for the thickness of the photographs to be added. In the single-section binding, it serves as a stub on which to sew the section, and grows to build shoulders to fit the boards. A model of each will be made in this two day course, taught by the originator of the structure.

Materials will cost £10 - £15.

Benjamin Elbel studied fine arts in France before specializing in bookbinding and book conservation in Ascona, Switzerland.  Following that, he gained hands-on experience in various binderies in Germany and England, before setting-up his own studio in London in 2012.

Benjamin’s activities are divided between bookbinding services, product design and training.  Over the years he has developed many original structures that he uses in his own work and actively teaches across Europe.


Registration Form

Click on the icon below to view / download a PDF version of the Joint Workshops Registration Form that you can print out and fill in.

Registration Form