Romanesque Binding

July 8th, 2024 9:30 AM

  • Instructor: Michael Burke
  • Workshop Type: Binding
  • Workshop Status: Open
  • Sessions: 5
  • In-person or Online?: In-person

Workshop Fee (includes materials fee): $770
Click here to apply for a Windgate scholarship.

Masks are no longer required for workshops, though anyone is welcome to wear one if they wish.

“The long-lasting qualities of early bindings have rarely been equalled and never surpassed.”
Gary Frost

The essential elements of medieval books, such as a flexible spine, shaped wooden boards and blind stamped leather are still very much in use today, and can give an unusual flair to contemporary creative binding. These early bindings are a delight to look at and hold. They are surprisingly refined in construction and function beautifully too. 

This class will introduce students to the essential steps involved in creating a typical wooden boarded binding from the period following the Norman conquest. First, quarter-sawn oak boards will be worked lightly to achieve backcornering and a slightly bevelled shape, as well as channels and holes for the attachment of the sewing supports. 

With strong linen thread we will sew the sections, using the sewing frame, with a herringbone stitch around split alum-tawed thongs which will then be secured into the boards using wooden pegs. After sewing, the spine will be lined with alum-tawed leather to establish the curious tab ends which are a feature of this structure. 

The book will be covered in a leather hand-dyed to achieve a suitably aged look. After minimum paring of the leather, the book will be covered. The spine leather will be formed to emphasise the raised thongs and the special medieval corners made. After the sewing of the tab headbands the leather will be further decorated by embossed tooling methods using either traditional decoration or your own innovative designs. The binding will be further embellished with long straps and pegs for closures. 

>> Prerequisite: Experience binding books in leather <<

Materials to Bring: Students with their own bookbinding tools should bring them to class, including a paring knife.

Date & Time: Monday-Friday, July 8-12, 2024 :: 9:30am-5:30pm

Location: 375 Rhode Island St, San Francisco, CA 94103

NOTE: Please read over the SFCB Registration Policies before signing up for a class. Registration will close approximately three days prior to the start date of the workshop to allow the instructor time to prep materials for class. We recommend you not wait to register, as workshops that don't meet our minimum enrollment will be canceled, sometimes as much as a week in advance.

About the Instructor | Michael Burke (he/him)

Michael Burke studied bookbinding with Dominic Riley and paper conservation with Karen Zukor. Michael lives in England, where he teaches bookbinding as well at events across the UK. He is a past chair of the North West and North Wales region of SoB. He has taught for diverse book arts groups in the USA, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City. In recent years he has taught at the Paper and Book Intensive, travelled to São Paulo to teach for the Brazilian group ABER, and in 2011 presented Byzantine binding at the Seminar of the Guild of Bookworkers. Michael researches the structures of ancient and medieval bindings and received his Masters degree in the History of the Book from the University of London in 2011.

Michael and Dominic are co-founders of Book Camp, an immersive residential bookbinding experience which aims to teach new generations of binders.

Past Student Reviews:

“Michael's enthusiasm is infectious. His ability to bring to life historical structures and the larger context of their production is a treat rarely to be savored in these types of workshops.”

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375 Rhode Island St
San Francisco, CA 94103-5133
United States