American Academy of Bookbinding

AAB Summer 2022

Registration for all classes opens February 21


June 13-17, 2022 | Coleen Curry| $925

The techniques in the course open real possibilities for creative work in contemporary decoration. Students will focus on several techniques, including inlay, onlay, relief, and juxtaposition. Each student will prepare and work on two leather-covered plaquettes, following design patterns created by Coleen. Students will begin with simple exercises on the first plaquette that will lead to more complicated inlay designs as the week progresses. On the second plaquette, everyone will work on the same patterns but have options to choose different colors, materials, and techniques to render their interpretation and realize their own design. Using various materials such as metal, stone, leather, objects, students will learn new approaches to inlays. The methods taught are easily accessible to everyone and will lead to precision, finesse, and improved work quality. Students will come away from this course with a technical understanding of different techniques to stimulate individual creativity and help execute design ideas.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding Level 1, 2, Fundamentals of Half or Full leather binding, or equivalent experience with leather and leather paring.



June 20-24, 2022 | Coleen Curry| $925


This course will introduce two leather binding styles using a technique developed by Sün Evrard, which she calls a Staple Binding. Sün Evrard has been working as a bookbinder in France since the ’70s. She began experimenting with secondary sewing system methods when conserving and rebinding texts. The result is a softcover binding that is easily reversible and in no way alters the text block. These bindings can be utilized for both conservation treatments and contemporary design bindings.

Both bindings join the cover and the text-block with innovative and conservation-friendly hand-made fasteners called tackets. Sün began experimenting with secondary sewing system methods when conserving and rebinding texts. The conservation-based approach is a fun, contemporary take on a centuries-old method of secondary sewing. Both bindings are similar to a case binding; the text block is prepared separately from the cover. The first binding is an articulated leather binding with a leather exterior and articulating doublures inside (without boards). The 2nd is a double fly-leaf pamphlet binding with leather doublures attached as a final step. The tackets are crafted in 3-parts and are made of wood, wire, and parchment.

For these structures, Coleen will emphasize techniques in building the structure. Elements that reinforce the strength of the binding include the articulating doublure areas, wooden dowels creating a ‘yap’ at the fore-edges, leather endbands, and wooden stubs to secure the pamphlet. To finish both bindings in this workshop, students will need to prepare one of their text blocks ahead of time. Details will be sent out to students once they have registered for the workshop.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding Level 1, 2, Fundamentals of Half or Full leather binding, or equivalent experience with leather and leather paring.



July 4-15, 2022 | Peter Geraty| $1750

A half leather binding features leather on the spine and corners, with a cloth or marbled paper on the remaining area of the cover boards of the book. A standard of the 19th-century trade shops, the half leather binding was initially developed as a less expensive leather binding. This binding style utilizes all the craft needed for a full leather binding but doesn’t require a large clean area of the skin.  Because students will be working with smaller pieces of leather, they will have a chance in this course to try different tools and techniques for paring. Working with an English or Swiss knife, spokeshave, and Scharf-fix are taught in this course. The books are sewn on raised cords, laced in, and endbanded. The finished product is a visually exciting book, still popular today, with a full leather binding strength. Students will come away from this course with a book ready to be dressed up in a Tooling course! This is the 3rd course of the four core courses that advance students’ skills toward becoming competent and knowledgeable bookbinders.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding Level 1 & 2, or equivalent experience in basic leather paring.



July 18-22, 2022 | Peter Geraty| $925

The strength and durability of parchment make it an ideal material for bookbinding. However, working with parchment is complex by nature. The hygroscopic nature of this beautiful material allows it to expand and contract as the environment changes. During this workshop, you will learn how to create a parchment binding over boards, accentuating the beauty of parchment and compensating for its tendency to wander. You will learn to construct a historical 17th-century style binding in parchment over boards. Following that, we will make a modern update that is worked more methodically and is a reasonable basis for fine binding. Throughout the workshop, we will discuss the nature of parchment, how it is made, and look at examples of parchment bindings. Parchment bindings are a valuable addition to a serious binder’s skill set, whether you are interested in restoration bindings or Fine Bindings.

Prerequisites: Fundamentals of Full Leather Binding or equivalent experience in bookbinding.



July 25-30, 2022 | Renate Mesmer| $925

This course will focus on repairing losses and tears on different types of papers and guarding a text block that has been pulled apart for rebinding. Participants will learn when and how to apply the various repair methods, including understanding the behavior of the repair papers and adhesives used.  In addition, participants will learn how to make their own cast pulp repair paper with simple equipment and the making of solvent-set repair tissue. This workshop will also address the pros and cons of humidification and the importance of suitable flattening and drying.

Morning lectures will cover the history of papermaking, introductory paper chemistry, material studies, damage analysis, and condition reports. This course aims to apply as much of the theory behind hands-on treatments as possible and give ample time for practice. Students should bring three text blocks that need treatment and sewing, preferably one inch thick and 12 inches tall. The text blocks should show tattered edges, tears, and losses and have been printed before 1850.

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.



August 1-5, 2022 | Renate Mesmer| $925

Paper Conservation Level 2 is designed to provide continuing paper conservation students with an opportunity to expand and deepen their knowledge through practical application, working with projects of the student’s choice. The main focus points are reviewing existing knowledge, humidification methods, washing techniques, and advanced flattening and drying techniques. Participants will learn more advanced repair techniques, basic lining methods, the importance of sizing, and the toning of repair papers. They will improve their skills in identifying printmaking techniques from 1500–1800 and analyzing the relationship between printed images and printed text to preserve them better. Issues of the layout of images in books, their insertion, sophistication, coloring, and the paper on which they were printed will be addressed as well.

Projects may consist of books, maps, prints, drawings, and other two-dimensional paper objects. Working with the instructor, treatment options will be discussed, and determinations for treatment will be made. Projects should be achievable within the scope of the student’s current working knowledge and experience and the time allotted. Students will be expected to prepare pre-treatment reports and photos before class.

Prerequisites: Paper Conservation Level 1, or equivalent experience with paper conservation.



August 22-26, 2022 | Renate Mesmer| $925

Sewing is one of the most important structural features of a book. The sewing connects and secures the gatherings and allows the book to be opened and closed.

Over the centuries, sewing techniques and materials have varied. Still, the principles have remained the same: gatherings are joined by sewing through the folds with thread onto a support such as cord, alum-tawed skin, leather, parchment, or fabric. 

Students will learn and practice all-along, abbreviated, and bypass sewing on single and double cords. They will learn how the various techniques and sewing supports can affect the book’s swell and opening properties.

Link-stitch, knot-tack sewing, herringbone sewing, as well as common endpaper construction, spine linings, and board attachments, will be demonstrated and practiced as time allows.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding Level 1 & 2, or equivalent experience in basic bookbinding.



August 29 – September 2, 2022 | Anne Hillam| $925

Laced-case structures hold an important place in the history of bookbinding.  A laced-case binding is one in which the cover, in the form of a case, is attached to a sewn bookblock by lacing the slips of the sewing supports and/or endband cores through the joints of the case. Two limp structures, one covered in heavy-weight paper (papercase) and the other in parchment (limp), will be constructed, focusing on the non-adhesive and interlocking nature of the binding style. Regional variations will be discussed, culminating in constructing a third semi-flexible late sixteenth-century Italian variation. This third structure is also non-adhesive but introduces a semi-flexible cover paper to the textblock to address the mechanical weaknesses in the joint area that can be problematic in typical laced-case limp bindings. The foundational aspects of all three bindings are the same:  sewn on raised alum-taw supports.

Throughout the course, participants will understand the abundance of options available to fit their creative needs for their own personal work, basing it within a rich historical framework. Through lecture and the handling and analysis of historical bindings, this course will give the participant an understanding of historical book structures, conservation of these structures, and the myriad of structural variations possible within one binding style.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding Level 1 & 2, or equivalent experience in basic bookbinding.