Term 2 at CIT; beginners and continuing

Term 2 at Canberra  Tech has been very busy with two bookbinding classes. Wednesdays is the continuing class learning how to do 19th century laced in binding with false raised bands. I joined that class because I am not very good at getting the endpaper onto the board. There are 8 of us, 5 from the National Library Preservation team. Thursdays is beginners; that is new beginners, continuing beginners and Peter who  comes to complete projects and use the equipment. 11 in the class doing all sorts of things from learning the basics, to next stage of basics, learning book repair and working on their own projects such as edition binding their own book.

Imagine that! I am running from one room to another, dispensing advice and tuition; it takes my breath away.  On Wednesdays with Robin, we go at a cracking pace to complete two books;there are only two bookbinders in the class, so it is a high pressure environment as people are learning new skills.  Every week we have homework, and luckily we have each other as support as we take our lunch hours and teatimes to complete what we need to do.

But it is not just work. On both nights we have good conversation – (although not as good as some other terms…Bronwyne where are you, Christine where are you?), and food to recharge the batteries. There is a lot of laughter, perhaps not so much chatter, as we all have our heads down.

Pics from Wednesday class:

Robin gave us a few demos every week so that we understood what we needed to do.

The laced in binding technique requires the textblock to be sewn with cords. In this particular style Robin had us recess them. We lined the book boards and cut out trenches so that we could lace the cords in without lumps on the surface. She brought us beautiful leather and decorated papers from which we would make endpapers and cover the books.

Pics from the Thursday class:

Thursday class is full of activity. I asked them to prepare three sets of sheets in the hope they might complete three items. I was being a bit optimistic. I have to say that I don’t like to push people, that is,  not getting them to work quickly. Pressure doesn’t make people work attentively. At the beginning of term they all receive notes and I write up each week’s particulars on the whiteboard. I had hoped they would take notes, but I don’t think many did.


Practise makes perfect; and learning something new is always a little hard the first time around. So I got the class to sew two book blocks, and of course after a few false starts, the second bookblocks were really quite good. The 3 continuing students of course sewed theirs much better than last term as they had already experience self supporting sewing. They also had their first experience at sewing endbands while the rest of the class rolled their own. They used machine made endbands so that they could experience the difference.

I think that students are often more critical of their results than the teachers. This class’s learning curve was quite sharp, and I hope that students will continue to increase their skills, either at their own kitchen tables or the tables at CIT.


Next term’s single bookcraft class is all about Asian bindings and basic boxmaking.