Book Binding: Creating Historical Ethiopian & Medieval Structures with Karen Hanmer August 29 - September 2, 2022

about this workshop

In this weeklong workshop students will create two historic bookbinding models from the 4th and 15th centuries. The Ethiopian binding structure may have emerged as early as the fourth century and has been in use unchanged for centuries. This humble, elegant binding opens flat and is the inspiration for many contemporary “Coptic” book arts structures. Characteristics include wood boards trimmed flush with the text block, paired sewing stations, and chain stitch-sewing that enters the board edge to incorporate board attachments. Historically the text blocks were made of vellum. Braided leather endbands were sewn on after covering in goatskin. Students will make a full-leather binding with braided leather endbands and cloth board linings.

If time permits, simple tooling will enhance the finished binding. The Medieval binding may be the archetypal book: heavy wooden boards, partially or fully covered in leather, prominent bands on the spine, held shut by straps terminating in metal clasps. Students will construct a small model based on a 15th century German binding in the collection of Stanford University: text block sewn on double supports; wooden boards shaped all around, with special attention given to the inside spine edge to match the text block’s natural shoulder, then drawn on and pegged; sewn endbands; covered in full alum-tawed leather; strap and pin closure; tooling as time permits.

Unique Instructor Karen Hanmer

Click to discover more about Karen!

$160 material fee payable to Karen

Key Points:
*Learn the fundamentals of bookbinding
*See bookbinding’s evolution over nearly two millennia
*Sew supported and unsupported
*Craft two historic styles of endbands
*Use a historic method of rounding and backing a text block
*Compare two methods of board attachment
*Gain expertise with woodworking for bookbinding
*Experiment with two different types of leather
*Make a simple clasp
*Learn an ancient method for tooling leather

Workshop Days: Monday to Friday
Instruction Time: 8:00am – 6:00pm (EST)
Note: During the work week, the shop remains open after 6:00 p.m. for handwork, design, research, catch-up work and socializing.



Book Binding: Creating Historical Ethiopian & Medieval Structures with Karen Hanmer August 29 - September 2, 2022


Availability: Open

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A special note about our photos:

We have taken HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of photos over the years of our students, instructors, and staff — during classes, after classes, and at various gatherings. Throughout this brochure and on our website, you will see many photos that were taken prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Images of people without masks or not practicing social distancing were taken before the pandemic and before the safety practices were implemented. Please rest assured, we follow all of the safety precautions and guidelines mandated by our local and state health officials. Community means everything to us —we aim to provide a safe environment for all who teach and learn at MASW. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our practices, or would like more detailed information about the school’s health and safety guidelines, please do not hesitate to call or email us!