Teaching Bookcraft in Canberra

Classes in Bookcraft for 2017 – 6pm to 9pm


Term 2 is open for enrolments now.

Term 2 sees the return of the two class term. Basic bookcraft is offered on Thursdays with Erika, and in term two will explore library binding, or as some call it split board binding. Book repair for beginners is offered on Wednesdays with Robin Tait.  Robin is a book conservator and has previously taught laced-in bindings at CIT Solutions, as well as making some guest appearances, teaching how to work with leather, including  paring.

Enrolments are open now. Course codes: Bookcraft RED1002, Book repairs RED1003

Term 1 at CIT Solutions Reid Campus

This term we are lucky to have a small class. The class consists not only of booklovers but individuals who are either graphic designer, a writer, a photographer, a keen beginner and a keen experienced binder.60% of the students are repeat students. That is incredible. This term is focusing on New Oriental binding and case binding. We are using Frank Weisner sewing frames.



Previous classes – see also specific term pages from right side column


June 2015

Term 2:

How did term 1 fare?

Term 1 Books

Term 1 Books

Term 1 is always about case binding. The students’ books turned out really well. It was a full class and somewhat hectic.

IMG_42832015-04-02 20.53.51It was hard to manage the continuing students. I felt like I didn’t give them enough time. SO guess what? Tech has agreed to trial out a dedicated continuing class. Without advertising it. SO I am hoping to assemble some old returning students.

I have a great programme in store for them; and I am hoping to have some guest teachers so that we can finally get to use more of the equipment.

As for the next lot of beginners I am glad that the printing was done right side up. However I’m thinking about taking them on a historical binding tour: from chinese pothi and scrolls to concertina and exposed sewing. in 8 weeks!? LOL!

We’ll see. Watch this space.

Who would have thought I’d complain when I had a full class. ok, i’m not complaining so much as I am realising that you DEFINITELY can’t have 3 or 4 levels of skills in one class and hope to teach well. I don’t know how school teachers do it frankly.

I feel sorry for my students when the class is this full because there is no realistic way I can give all of them the attention they deserve. Most of my time is spent with the beginners. Which is good, but to the detriment of that small band of faithful return students. I know they are capable of more, but they are left to their own devises a bit too much.

New look sink corner with samples

New look sink corner with samples

At least I have made the room friendlier, with posters and the samples within easy reach, throwing out the rubbish that had been gathering in the cupboards.

Term 1 Feb 2015 beginner students hard at work

Term 1 Feb 2015 beginner students hard at work

I try not to work the beginners too hard. Last week we managed to do one sample of japanese binding (basic) with beautiful covers. Next week it’s onto quarter flush binding. I hope they all have aprons to protect themselves from gluey fingers.


Term 1 February 2015:

The class is nearly full! This year I am working on a better manual, once I can figure out how my printer works. In the bookcraft student manual there are great tips on how to do simple bookbinding procedures.

The term normally starts off with slow simple things like paper folding, and single section pamphlet stitching. This means that from the very first day students leave with a product, a small book.

My notes are based on the notes that I was given in 2006, and which I have expanded to include some of my favourite binders,  Jen Lindsay, Jane Greenfield, Arthur Johnson. I hope that by taking their own notes, students will retain more information.

Continuing students will also get a small manual. I like to encourage them to go beyond what they know. Some of my students have been coming to CIT for years, and often get into a rut. Since I like making endbands, I often encourage them to sew their own rather than use the poxy machine made ones that are at hand.

Term starts next week, so I’ll put up some photos here later.


For the last 3 years I have been working on the best possible programme with which to introduce people to the joys of book binding. The basis of it are the course notes I received in my own training at CIT in 2006.  To this I have added japanese binding, box making and now I think I will delve into paper engineering.

2012 - my first full year

2012 – my first full year



I inherited badly organised cupboards and a bit of a mess. But a few hours of tidying made it quite usable.

My students have a plan: we work through paper grain and folding and basic pamphlet sewing.

Because I have a particular interest in japanese binding I add this half way through a term. I figured that if I can teach people the most basic elements of western sewing, binding and box making, then they will be ready for more complex techniques. Their skills build and end the term  with finished products and can finally understand what books were trying to teach them.

Quite often students arrive thinking they will be able to fix a book straight away. Or often they berate themselves because their projects don’t work first time. I keep reminding them to leave their expectations at the door; this is a class, and mistakes are to be made here. If they already knew how to do it, they would need the class in the first place.

Teaching is the spur for my own progression. As I learn techniques and become more confident, I pass it on to students.

It is hardest for me when the class has 3 levels of students. I would dearly love to have a dedicated continuing class; in it i could give the required attention to getting leather paring or gold tooling off the ground. As it is my attention is divided between newbies who need constant supervision, to intermediates who also need looking after when learning new techniques. And sometimes my eye is not in the right place and mistakes are made. However lessons are also learned from those mistakes.

Now that some students have been with me a while I demonstrate sewing endbands or leather paring. And push them to try these out, all the while practising basic sewing techniques. All in all we have a lot of fun.

As 2015 flows along, I’ll post more photos and ideas that spring form those classes




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