AAB Spring

Spring courses 2023

Please note: All spring courses run from Thursday to Monday

Introduction to Bookbinding – Level 1   

April 20-24  | Lang Ingalls | $950

***FULL*** This course is provisionally full. New registrations will be added to the waiting list.

This class is for you if you have never taken a bookbinding class. This is a one-week class devoted to the fundamental building blocks of bookbinding; it is an introduction to binding books into paper and cloth covers.

Starting at the very beginning, students will learn about paper grain, cutting and folding, gathering and sewing a signature, and producing a Pamphlet Binding. From there, they will expand to multi-signature sewing and Case Binding. An introduction to the essential tools of the trade will be covered. Students will learn techniques and habits to prepare them to progress to the next level. They will also have acquired the skills to practice and explore bookbinding at home. The marvels of paper, the details of sewing, the characteristics of an attractive book cover, and more are taught in this class.

This course is open to students with little or no prior bookbinding experience.

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Introduction to Bookbinding – Level 2

April 27 – May 1 | Lang Ingalls | $950

***FULL*** This course is provisionally full. New registrations will be added to the waiting list.

This course is for students who have taken Level 1 and are ready to develop further and explore materials. Students will work with a textblock, making the Millimeter Binding structure. The class will cover the importance of design, bookblock preparation, the principles of a rounded spine, basic leatherwork, and hand-sewn endbands. There will be a review of board-cutting basics, book squares, and the use of adhesives. Introduction to the Schärfix paring machine and a review of best practices with tools will be covered. The elegance of leather, considerations of spine swell, design materiality, and harmony are taught in this class. This class is required for students ready to advance their skills and prepare for AAB’s Fundamentals of Half and Full-Leather Binding courses.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Bookbinding I or equivalent experience. This course may be repeated as needed or desired.

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Miniature Fine Leather Binding

May 4-8 | Gabrielle Fox | $950

This miniature leather binding class taught at the American Academy of Bookbinding is based on the English tradition of fine leather binding in the spirit of the binders and artists Edgar Mansfield and William Matthews. Like any well-designed miniature object the adjustments both visually and structurally allow the audience to see a smaller version that appears to be a scaled down version of a full size book. This can be done with materials that aren’t always possible to reduce in size or thickness.  With the variations for miniatures that Gabrielle has developed, students will create small visual gems that can be read comfortably and handled without harming these pieces of art.

The course will begin the letterpress printing the book you will bind. This part will be taught by Chip Schilling, Managing Director of AAB and will give students the opportunity to understand how books are designed for imposition, and how print production effects the quality of the books you are binding. The bindings you will then create will be in traditional full leather with leather joints and headbands, exploring decorative techniques including onlays and tooling. For students with previous experience there will be many options in sets of sheets for additional bindings

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

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Paper Conservation Level 1

May 18-22 | Renate Mesmer | $950

This course will focus on repairing losses and tears on different types of papers and guarding a textblock 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 textblocks that need treatment and sewing, preferably one inch thick and 12 inches tall. The textblocks 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 is required.

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Paper Conservation Level 2

May 25-29 | Renate Mesmer | $950

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. 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.

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Inlay & Onlay Intensive

June 1-5 | Coleen Curry | $950

The techniques in the class open real possibilities for creative work in contemporary decoration. Students will focus on several techniques, including inlay, onlay, incision, 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 class with a technical understanding of different techniques to stimulate individual creativity and help execute design ideas.

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

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Manipulating Leather – An Art of its Own

June 8-12 | Coleen Curry | $950


In this five-day workshop Coleen will share some of her favorite decorative surface techniques that will enable students to turn leather and suede into beautiful pieces of art to be used for decorative inlays and onlays for bindings, covering books, and flyleaves. We will finish the workshop making a limp binding with leather doublures using the leather decorated in class.

With Coleen’s guidance and demonstration, the class will experiment with dyes, ink, and paint on both dyed and undyed leather, and discuss each of their uses, limitations, and applications. Students will work with several resist techniques and image transfer techniques. The class will explore a variety of surface finishes that range from highly polished, to satin and matte. Exploration of methods to create depth and dimension on a flat surface including embossing and sanding for example. In addition, we will experiment with collage techniques and foil applications on leather splits.

This exploratory and creative class provides participants with an arsenal of unique materials to use for binding or any leather project and will benefit all levels of binders as well as artists wanting to explore a different medium. Students will take home a variety of samples to use as reference.

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Next: Summer Courses 2023