Bookbinding in Russia Leather: Make a notebook using leather from a 1786 shipwreck!



Immerse yourself in a day of creative work and create a unique personalised pocket notebook.

In this workshop we will work with 'Russia Leather'; a material that has been salvaged from the cargo hold of the shipwreck of the Metta Catharina. For 200 years she has laid at the bottom of the ocean. She sank in 1786 and rests at a depth of 30 metres off the Cornish coast near Plymouth.

This is a small, friendly, informal workshop for all abilities and accommodates up to four students. The course is designed to be both accessible for beginners and engaging and interesting for intermediate abilities. Tuition is available almost any day except for Saturdays. You're welcome to click 'Chat with the Maker' to request a date to suit your own diary. I usually teach bookbinding twice a week so please message me with your preferred dates.

I have been working as a professional restoration bookbinder for 12 years and have a post graduate qualification in Museum studies and a PGCE. I enjoy teaching and helping people to create unusual projects.

An Introduction To Russia Leather.

In its day Russia leather was regarded as one of the finest leathers in the world. Such high praise was attributed to a careful curing process which involved soaking the hides in willow bark vats for several months before treating them in birch oil. This gives the material a unique and attractive smell which has since matured for 200 years at the bottom of the ocean. If you like the smell of Talisker whisky you may well like this also!

Leather doesn't usually last very long in seawater so Its quite amazing the hides are here today; an impressive testament to the skill and art of the Russian tannery in 1786 and also the tenacious efforts of the dive team of The Metta Catherina Trust. They spent an incredible 30 years diving the wreck, clearing tonnes of mud and debris and conducting archaeological research on this unique story.

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

All materials included. The photographs show an A6 notebook but if you'd like to tackle a larger project this is very possible but please send me your enquiry.

Frome town centre is 5 minutes walk away with cafes and shops for a lunchbreak.


Stephen Glendenning at Boundbooks


The Welsh Mill
Park Hill Drive
BA11 2LE

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Father's Day
  • Hearing impaired
  • Intermediate level
  • Mother's Day
  • Parking provided
  • Public transport
  • Seniors
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Tutor can travel


7 hours (flexible times to suit)

Silver Badge
What does this mean?

This craft course provider has been awarded Silver status for receiving 5 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.

They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.


In-person course
Hilary Green - - #18139

Excellent teaching - Stephen told/showed me each stage and then let me complete the task. Renewed 2 dear old cookery books so they are now good for another 40 years.
(Much coffee and chocolate, nice little walk to town centre at lunchtime.)

In-person course
Richard - - #15728

I was bought a day long workshop session in book-binding with Stephen as a birthday present and came along with the intention of making a bespoke photograph album. Stephen provided great assistance throughout the whole process and I ended up taking home a lovely album which I can now fill with my best photographs.
His assistance and patience was second to none and the materials he provided were of the highest quality. Along with his guidance we chose the best colour scheme and design to suit my work. A very good and successful day.

In-person course
Barbara Saunders - - #12619

I spent a day with Stephen creating a book with a leather binding. I had done a little bit of bookbinding before so was hoping to consolidate things I’d already learned how to do and learn some new skills. It was a very easy-going atmosphere in the studio and I liked that I could just ask whatever, whenever but then be a little bit left to get on with it - always feel awkward and liable to mess up when being observed. I appreciated the chance to learn a slightly different approach, not just slightly different method but a more positive and serendipitous way of working, learning from mistakes etc. I really enjoyed the day, 7 hours flew by and I was very happy with my book!

In-person course
Alison Harvey - - #9428

Read more

In-person course
Geoff Solomon-Sims - - #9367

I approached Stephen with a sentimental favourite book to rebind and he suggested it might be a nice project to rebind it myself. Stephen has a great way of encouraging creativity in the process and has a great eye for what will work best with the document. I enjoyed every moment of working with him in his studio and watching his own work was incredibly inspiring. The whole process felt less like learning a process and more like exploring a sea of options and possibilities, with an able navigator at the helm. What began as a single book has grown to a small library of 15 and I look forward to binding some more in the near future.

In-person course
Nereida - - #9362

Read more

In-person course
Zhiru - - #9346

I bought a journal for my cousin's 30th birthday, hopping that this could come in handy for her to use daily even at work. So I decided to give the journal more sophisticated and antique look by bookbinding it for she was quite an artistic person. For choosing the cover of the journal, from his numerous collection, Stephen helped me to select an very old property document, which was handwritten in artistic legible script and with a lovely stamp on it. He also provided his aesthetic advice when I couldn't decide which part of the document I would like to use because it was so beautiful. Later on in each step, Stephen was like this: listened carefully to my needs and ideas and was very patient to guide me until I complete the whole process. The atmosphere in his studio was very relaxing and it was very pleasant to have his company for he is the man with lots of great stories. I enjoyed the bookbinding work a lot and was very satisfied with the work I'd done. Thank you Stephen!

Leave a review

Will be published next to your review
Will not be published

Contact information will not be shared or used for marketing unless you opt to receive our monthly newsletter about UK creative courses. You will be notified by email within two weeks if the course provider responds to your review.

Have you done this course?