About this course

Learn how to make a book. Progress to a complex binding, repair a book, make a box or decorate a book cover. If you have experience, renovate your own cloth and leather-bound books.

Course Description

Discover the fascinating craft of bookbinding. Beginners learn every stage of making a book, from folding the paper into sections to gluing and case-making. Progress to a project, such as a more complex binding, repair a personal book or make a box. You may choose to decorate and letter a book cover too. More experienced binders will have the opportunity to renovate their own cloth and leather-bound books.

You will learn the fundamentals of bookbinding. The course content is primarily led by the projects students wish to work on. Therefore, once the basics are understood and you have made up a new cloth case-bound book, you can progress to working on and repairing your own books, and/or making new bindings of your choice, guided by the tutor.

On the first evening, there will be an introduction to the workshop and equipment, and a general talk on binding styles. This will be followed by a look at various books on bookbinding, most of which will be available to view at the College Library for the duration of your course. There will also be examples of different styles of binding to view.

The following skills may be covered during the course, as applicable to individual projects or books brought:

• Grain direction of paper

• Folding of paper into sections

• Sewing on tapes or cords

• Making up endpapers

• Gluing-up

• Trimming

• Rounding and backing

• Headbands

• Case making

• Repairing paper tears and preparing broken and torn page sections for re-sewing

• Re-backing of cloth/leather bindings

• Repair of books

• Gold tooling

Techniques required will be demonstrated and talked through stage by stage. Much of the tuition will be on a one-to-one basis, as applicable to individual projects.

Beginners will commence by gathering leaves of paper into a book and, by the end of day one, will have mastered the techniques required to make a cloth case binding.

Once equipped with a working knowledge of the basics of bookbinding, you can then start work on your own book projects, which can include making and repairing books. You are advised to work on non-valuable books.

Bookbinding is a wide subject and there are innumerable possibilities. Examples of Japanese style, account book style, flexible, library style, various sewing methods, photo albums, scrap books and innovative new modifications in binding will be brought in, and those wishing to make any of these styles up can do so. In addition to bookbinding, you may choose to make a book box, such as a flap over Japanese style box, portfolio case, clamshell box or slip case. If you wish, you can learn to decorate your books with brass finishing tools and gold leaf and foil.

Course Materials


  • Some general materials, including boards, glues and cords, supplied for use of the group during the course

What students need to bring

  • Apron/overall, and covered footwear is essential in the studio
  • Please bring a selection of six to eight of your own books requiring work (repairing or rebinding); this will enable the tutor to select the book(s) most suitable to work on during the course. Suitable projects can include: breaking down of a loose book block and resewing; reattaching loose plates and mending broken spines.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Bone folders
  • A small selection of bookbinding materials is usually available, including end papers, book cloth, buckram, headbands and calf and goat skins (a quarter skin costs between £25 and £30 depending on leather)
  • 12" rule
  • Sharp craft knife, scissors
  • Pencil, rubber

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals, and safety boots, if specified


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

General Information


Marysa de Veer, bookbinding tutor at West Dean College

Marysa De Veer

Marysa de Veer trained in bookbinding and conservation at Guildford College of Technology where she gained a Diploma with merit in 1992. Marysa holds a diploma in Chemistry for conservators from Hammersmith College and has won prizes in restoration as well as highly commended prize for designed bindings with both The Society of Bookbinders as well as Designer Bookbinders. She has attended inspirational innovative monthly bookbinding master classes at L'ecole du Vesinet, Paris. She has also been a judge for the British Print Industry Federation for their British Book Design Awards. She runs Otter Bookbinding Ltd which specialises in printing, binding, restoration and conservation of antiquarian books and bespoke one-off bookbinding.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.