2024 AAB Course Schedule

2024 Course Schedule

Please note: All courses run from Thursday to Monday, with the exception of the December courses that run Monday – Friday.

2024 course registration is open.

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Note: You must register for the courses you are interested in before applying for scholarships. Please have a look at the scholarship tab for more information and the scholarship application link.


Introduction to Bookbinding Level 1

Offered twice: April 25-29 (Th-M) | Brenda Gallagher   **FULL**
                              December 2-6 (M-F) | Brenda Gallagher  **FULL**

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

If you are new to bookbinding, this class is for you! This one-week class is an introduction to the fundamental building blocks of bookmaking. Each student gains an understanding of paper and paper grain, tearing and folding, cutting, gathering, and sewing. Best practices, posture, and essential aspects of materials are covered. The class begins with a simple Pamphlet Binding, expanding into Double-section Bindings and casework, and ending with various multi-signature Flatback Case Binding constructions.  

The foundational considerations of design, tools, and materials are taught in this introductory course. The tools of bookbinding introduced in this class discuss variation and the option to try many styles toward a better understanding of use. Materials common to bookbinding are covered as well, with many opportunities to explore the variety of results they offer. The last part of the class discusses essential tools for a home studio in order for students to practice and explore the bookbinding skills they have developed.

No prerequisites are required for this course. It is open to students with little or no prior bookbinding experience.


Introduction to Bookbinding Level 2

Offered: May 2-6 (Th-M) | Lang Ingalls   **FULL**
                  May 9-13 (Th-M) | Lang Ingalls
                  December 9-13 (M-F) | Lang Ingalls

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

This course is for students who have taken Introduction to Bookbinding I or for those who have some prior experience with paper, multi-section sewing, and case binding. In this one-week class, the next level of bookbinding is approached with the introduction of the process of bookblock preparation, the principles of a rounded spine, basic top-edge coloring, hand-tied endbands, and basic leather work. The resulting structure is a modified Millimeter Binding.

In this one-week course, students will take a textblock from a book-in-sheets to a finished binding. Beginning with principles of design and harmony of materials, students will work from forwarding techniques through leather paring techniques, which introduce paring knives and the Shärfix leather paring machine. The course also includes a discussion of best practices with tools and materials for the home studio and how best to bring your studio in line with your mastery. Students will return home with a beautiful book made with a leather spine and paper—and the skills to make more!

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding I or familiarity with multi-signature sewing and case binding. 


Titling in Gold

May 16-20 | Don Glaister

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $140 (includes a 25-leaf gold pack)

Historically, bindings had titles, almost without exception. They were very often rendered in gold leaf on the spine. In the middle of the 20th century, however, designers of fine bindings began to consider the appearance of titles as optional, and that trend still continues. The change from obligatory titling to optional titling has resulted in two seemingly opposing viewpoints: that titling doesn’t matter, and there is no reason to learn it, and titling matters because if it is chosen to be part of a given design, it had better be done with the same degree of skill as other tooling and decorative techniques used in that design.

You may not be surprised to discover that this class strongly promotes the second viewpoint! This one-week course will outline the simple yet precise techniques necessary to achieve elegant gold titling. Students will be exposed to two titling methods: loose brass type arranged in a hand-held type holder (composer) and handle letters (individual brass letters mounted in wood handles).

This class will build a strong practical foundation in titling through personal guided instruction, including body form mechanics, tool heat and pressure, blind tooling, the handling of gold leaf, and titling in gold. Significant emphasis will also be placed on learning to make adjustments and correct errors that will inevitably occur. Once this foundation is built, the rest is practice. Class size is limited to eight.

This is a required course for the Fine Binding diploma program.

Prerequisites: Bookbinding experience is encouraged but not necessary.


Fundamentals of Full-Leather Binding

May 23-June 3 | Don Glaister   **FULL**

Class fee: $1850 + Materials fee $150

This core course is a foundation for the Fine Binding and Comprehensive Binding programs. Over two weeks, students will complete at least one full-leather book using traditional bookbinding techniques interpreted for the 21st century. 

Students will become familiar with hand sewing using a sewing frame, rounding and backing, preparing top edges for decoration, weaving headbands, leather paring, chamfering, and applying leather to their books. At all stages of the class, students will be exposed to design options (some minor, some major) that directly inform the look and feel of the finished binding. They will also be introduced to simple decorative techniques such as raised and recessed boards and freehand tooling.

The class will focus on learning and reinforcing sound leather bookbinding practices, particularly forwarding. Students will leave prepared to continue their studies in the diploma program and in other elective and design courses at the Academy.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding Level 2 or equivalent experience (must be familiar with multi-signature sewing and case binding; some experience working with leather preferred).

This course is required for all diploma students. Note for Diploma Students: This course can be repeated for intermediate students. Intermediate students in the course will have the opportunity to work more independently than first-time students and are encouraged to hone their skills and practice additional decorative techniques.


Conservation Concepts in Fine Binding: UH Structure

June 6-17 | Sol Rebora

Class fee: $1850 + Materials fee $150

This contemporary fine binding class will dive into design concepts and conservation considerations using the UH structure, which incorporates reversible techniques to connect the cover with the bookblock. This technique produces a refined case binding structure that can be used as the basis for fine binding design.

The first week of the course course will cover combinations of different paper, leathers, and adhesives through the forwarding process; and the second week will cover a variety of finishing techniques, including design, leather doublures, inlays, and onlays. To see an example of this binding style, click here: UH Structure with leather and Japanese endpapers.

SOL RÉBORA first began bookbinding in Buenos Aires in 1996. Her work may be found in many public and private collections around the world. Sol currently works in her private studio, Estudio Rébora, in Buenos Aires. She has been teaching private and regular group classes since 2008, and occasionally organizes visiting instructors for specialized knowledge and techniques. Sol has been a Guest Instructor in Mexico City, Guatemala City, San Francisco, and London.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding I or familiarity with multi-signature sewing and case binding, as well as the tools of bookbinding.



A Journal, A Photo Book: from Soft to Hard Cover

June 27-July 1 | Lang Ingalls

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

This course is designed to introduce book covers as an essential consideration of bookbinding. While consistently emphasizing design choice, this course examines the argument for a soft cover use versus a hardcover use and how to achieve each. It is best suited to students who have completed Introduction to Bookbinding I or for those who have some prior experience with paper, multi-section sewing, and case binding. In this class, exploration is lateral, with students completing two binding structures during the week. Both books will be made with blank paper interiors and decorative paper covers.

The first book made in this class is a Journal with a soft cover. The structure will introduce the long-stitch technique of sewing multiple signatures through the cover. Alternatives to long-stitch sewing and various cover considerations will be shown and discussed. Students have an opportunity to choose decorative cover paper and design their long-stitch pattern to their liking.

The second book made in this class is a Photo Book, a sturdy hardcover book made to house photographs or inserted materials such as letters. Variations on the structure will be shown and discussed, such as the option of a Guest Book. 

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding I or familiarity with multi-signature sewing and case binding, as well as the tools of bookbinding.


Box making: Conservation & Enclosures

July 4-8 | Andrew Huot

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

You’ve made a beautiful book. Now, learn to protect it. Protective and decorative boxes are a bindery staple for fine binding and book conservation. This course will cover clamshell box making and other protective enclosures. Bring your own books to build enclosures for, or follow on from Intro 2 and make a box for your brand-new binding.

Though the course focuses on box-making for books, the precision, accuracy, and structural principles you’ll learn will allow you to make boxes for all sorts of objects at home.

This is a required course for all diploma students.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding level I or familiarity with board cutting and working with cloth and adhesives.


Binding Treatment: Cloth & Paper   **FULL**

July 11-15 | Peter Geraty

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

If you’re interested in book repair, this course is for you! Students will learn to repair damaged cloth and paper bindings using basic book conservation and restoration methods. The course covers ethical considerations of binding treatments, rebuilding book structures, dying and tinting materials to create color-complementary repairs, and enhancing the book’s usability. Japanese papers, cotton, and various adhesives will be explored and used as students progress through the class.

Students should bring at least 4-5 books that will be narrowed down to those that will give students the best results. Class members will observe the decision-making process regarding the best treatment options for their books. Students will work on repairs while also engaging with the ethics of performing various changes or repairs. Students will complete a minimum of two binding treatments by the week’s end.

Prerequisites: Intro 2 or equivalent experience (must be competent in case binding)


Fundamentals of Half-Leather Binding   **FULL**

July 18-29 | Peter Geraty

Class fee: $1850 + Materials fee $150

This core course introduces students to half-leather bindings, a standard of the 19th-century trade shop. These binding features leather on the spine and corners, with a cloth or decorative paper on the remaining area of the cover boards of the book. Though initially developed as a less expensive leather binding, the half-leather binding is a craft of its own, offering a range of opportunities for design and alternative covering materials.

This binding style utilizes all the skills needed for a full-leather binding but doesn’t require a large amount of leather. The books are sewn on raised cords, laced in, and endbanded. In this class, students can try different tools and techniques for paring, including English and Swiss knives, spokeshaves, and the Schärfix. A particular emphasis is placed on paring leather and sharpening paring knives, along with proper forwarding techniques.

The finished product is a visually exciting book with a full-leather binding strength, still popular today. Students will complete at least one half-leather binding in this course.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding Level 2 or equivalent experience (must be familiar with multi-signature sewing and case binding; some experience working with leather preferred).

This course is required for all diploma students.



Miniatures: Fine Print meets Fine Binding

August 8-19 | Gabrielle Fox & Chip Schilling

Class fee: $1850 + Materials fee $150

Miniature bindings are delightful, fun, and challenging for the binder. This class, which will first produce and then bind a tiny bookblock in full-leather, will teach students to create small visual gems that can be read comfortably and handled without harm. 

Students will begin by letterpress printing the bookblock for binding with instruction taught by Chip Schilling. Students will learn how books are designed for imposition and how print production can affect subsequent binding decisions. Students will also learn how to make their own plates by hand and use their plates for design options with their bindings.

Students will then bind their printed textblocks with Gabrielle Fox and produce a book in full-leather with leather joints and end bands. There will be an opportunity to explore a variety of decorative techniques.

Design for miniatures requires visual and structural adjustments to create an object that appears to be a scaled-down version of a full-size book. While this course produces a miniature book, the thought process, and hand skills required are valuable additions to a binder’s repertoire.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding Level 2 or equivalent experience (must be familiar with multi-signature sewing and case binding; some experience working with leather preferred).

Note for Diploma Students: This course can be used to fulfill one of your required binding courses.



Surface & Sequence

August 22-26 | Suzanne Moore

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

Working on a theme of their choice, participants will develop a succession of images using wet and dry media in black and white and color. Experiments with oil and dry pastels, colored pencils, gouache, inks, and acrylic colors, and a variety of grounds – on various paper surfaces. These pieces might be a series of connected works or pages to incorporate into book form.

A cross-referencing of materials – creating resists and color-saturated surfaces as well as texture and dimension produced with various mediums and grounds, will expand the visual repertoire of each artist. Structured experimentation will result in a series of rich, layered surfaces as you develop a progression of imagery that imparts an unfolding story.

Designers, book artists, lettering artists, and visual artists of all stripes are welcome. (These pages may be used in Coleen Curry’s class A Simplified Binding), the following week, or bound with a simple structure in class, if you wish.

No prerequisites are required for this course; it is open to all students.


A Simplified Binding – Sewn on Stubs

August 29-September 2 | Coleen Curry

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

Originally designed by Hungarian conservator Sün Evrard in 1984, the Simplified Binding has the appearance of a fine binding yet is more flexible, opens beautifully, and offers a variety of possibilities for decoration. This class emphasizes best practices in conservation with the introduction of stubs, either sewn or tipped, in bookblock preparation, rounding but not backing the spine, and separate preparation of the spine piece and boards.

Unique to this structure are the sewing supports that lace through the spine carrier to provide both an adhesive and a mechanical attachment to the bookblock. Additionally, the leather spine piece is affixed to the bookblock endpapers and not the spine, allowing for easy opening and the option to title prior to assembling the binding. The boards are finely chamfered and shaped, with the covering material turned in on all four sides—this allows for various design modifications. Interior treatment includes a leather hinge and doublure work.

Demonstrations and discussions on various design considerations throughout the class will enable students to understand the advantages of this structure.

This course is designed to be taken with Suzanne Moore’s course Surface & Sequence which runs right before this course. You are not required to take Surface & Sequence to take this course. If you are only planning on taking this course, please let us know and we will send you the details on what to bring for binding with your own pages.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding II or familiarity with multi-signature sewing and basic leatherwork.


Conceal/Reveal Panel Structure

September 5-9 | Coleen Curry

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

The hinged panel is a cover design opportunity that introduces surprise and adds an architectural element to what seems like a traditional binding. Originally innovated by Monique Lallier in 1986, the panel stays closed with magnets concealing a recessed space in the boards that, once opened, reveals an inner kinetic environment filled with surprising materials, techniques, and designs of the maker’s imagination.

This class will focus on learning the techniques and structural differences in creating an aesthetic, operable hinged panel for the cover of a binding. Students will learn to design and engineer the panel, initially working on paper models and then moving to leather plaquettes. The structure allows for a recessed space to house the enclosed materials with magnets embedded into the boards and a tab or latch inserted to allow for easy opening. Basic pop-up mechanisms will be introduced, and students will construct a pop-up that is revealed when the panel is opened.

The class will also discuss variations on the location of the panel, such as the foredge, spine, head, or tail, and the limitations and considerations of these positions. In addition, every operation must be executed with the greatest care, as the structure’s minimalist nature calls attention to details that may otherwise be overlooked. If time allows, students may wish to duplicate their design using different material choices to reinforce their understanding of the structure.

Prerequisites: At least one Fundamentals of Fine Leather Binding or equivalent experience in leather paring.


Paper Conservation Level 1

September 19-23 | Renate Mesme

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

Paper repair is a fundamental skill for all working in bookbinding and conservation, and the principles learned in this course provide a foundation for all subsequent repair and conservation courses.

This course will focus on repairing tears, filling losses on different types of papers, and guarding a bookblock pulled apart in preparation for rebinding. Participants will learn when and how to apply the various repair methods and will gain an understanding of the behavior of the repair papers and adhesives used. In addition, participants will learn how to make solvent-set repair tissue and cast pulp repair paper using simple equipment.  This workshop will also address the pros and cons of humidification and washing and the importance of various flattening and drying methods.

Morning lectures will cover the history of papermaking, introductory paper chemistry, material studies, damage analysis, and condition reports. This course aims to apply considerable theory behind hands-on treatments and provide ample time for practice under supervision. 

Students should bring at least one textblock in need of treatment and resewing, best not more than one inch thick and 12 inches tall. Ideally, the textblocks should show tattered edges, tears, and losses, if possible. The books should preferably have been printed before 1850 due to the poor paper quality afterward. Students are encouraged to bring single-leaf paper objects like prints, watercolor, and pencil drawings. The exceptions are manuscripts written in any type of ink. AAB also has books on hand for class use.

Prerequisites: This course is open to students with little or no prior conservation experience. Introduction to Bookbinding Level 1 & 2, or equivalent experience in basic bookbinding, is required.


Conservation & Restoration: An Unusual Friendship

September 26-October 7 | Renate Mesmer & Peter Geraty

Class fee: $1850 + Materials fee $150

Where can conservation and restoration meet? The two instructors for this course believe that the areas of science and craftsmanship can successfully work together. 

Peter Geraty and Renate Mesmer are both bookbinders and conservators and will explain where the two seemingly disparate fields in this quirky relationship can overlap. 

This class will focus on conservation-appropriate and ethically sound conservation and restoration approaches and treatments, allowing students to benefit from the divergent yet compatible (or companionable) perspectives of two highly knowledgeable instructors. Their two perspectives will allow students to recognize that there are many ways to approach a conservation treatment, and the (friendly yet potentially heated) debates between the instructors regarding why they are making the choices they do will be invaluable to students as they learn about book conservation. 

Students will learn and practice various board reattachment techniques, methods of rebacking, board stabilization options, and paper mending and guarding in books, as well as engage in philosophical discussions about conservation ethics. 

Prerequisites: At least one Fundamentals of Fine Leather Binding or equivalent experience in leather paring and laced-in boards.


What’s next – Technique meets Design

October 10-14 | Don Glaister

Class fee: $950 + Materials fee $100

WHAT’S NEXT: Applying Bookbinding Techniques to Design Bindings

This year’s What’s Next: Techniques Meet Design course is being expanded! In addition to exploring elements of design, the course will include instruction on basic decorative techniques, including fool’s tooling (using a hand tool to impress lines in leather) with metallic and colored foils and painted lines; unusual onlays of Mylar and metal, and embossing, as time permits. Students will have the opportunity to practice techniques and make their own decorative tools. These will contribute to the exercises, discussions, and investigations that students will apply to design projects of their choosing. 

The techniques taught in this class are accessible to binders at early or advanced stages of their practice. This course is perfect for all students looking to add some unique skills to their toolbox while challenging themselves to create their own vision and interpretation of cover design.

Prerequisites: This course is open to everyone who’s taken Intro 2 (or has equivalent experience). 



Intermediate / Advanced Fine Leather Binding

October 17-28 | Don Glaister

Class fee: $1850 + Materials fee $150

This two-week class is designed to help students with varying experience levels in fine binding refine and review their techniques, develop more advanced and sophisticated ones, and even invent new techniques. Emphasis will also be placed on binding design and design execution. Some more advanced techniques that may be explored are elaborate woven headbands, edge gilding, gold, blind and painted tooling, inlays, and onlays of leather or other materials. Advanced students may work independently on their projects, with close monitoring and guidance from the instructor. Intermediate students will receive a bit more direction. All students will have an opportunity to explore various design concepts and decorative techniques, depending on their experience and expertise. Students are encouraged to use this class as an extensive fine-tuning of their forwarding techniques or to concentrate on a few or even one specific advanced technique.

Please note that this class is not a substitute for other classes offered or required by AAB. It is meant to help students further develop and explore skills already introduced to them.

Prerequisites: At least one Fundamentals of Fine Leather Binding or equivalent experience in leather paring. This course may be repeated as needed or desired.


Over the Hump – Molded Raised Bands & Slotted Spine Bindings

November 14-25 | Anne Hillam

Class fee: $1850 + Materials fee $150

Have you ever wondered how bookbinders managed to cover large, raised bands in parchment?  This class will focus on constructing two tight-back stiff-board parchment binding styles:  parchment molded over large raised bands and the Northern Italian slotted spine binding.

In one model, the parchment is fully molded over the large, raised sewing supports, and in the second model, slots are cut out of the parchment to accommodate the raised bands.  Come and learn the differences in structure between these two bindings and why modern adjustments were made in new, stiff-board parchment bindings to improve function. This class is the historical precursor to Peter Geraty’s modern parchment over boards.

This class will give you an expansive understanding of early parchment binding styles, better equipping you to make conservation decisions and give you the skills to construct both historical binding models and their modern variations. By understanding how these bindings were made, a wide array of possibilities to create new structures is expansive!

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding II or familiarity with multi-signature sewing.