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.
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.
7 hours (flexible times to suit)
This craft course provider has been awarded Silver status for receiving 5 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.
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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.)
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.
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!
The book I chose to restore was an early C19th Shakespeare. I was amazed as Stephen helped me take it apart, preserving the beautiful leather and the endpapers. The work of restoration started with patiently stitching flaps to which to attach the covers. We rebuilt the spine and I finished by tooling the volume number on it with a punch. Despite being challenged by trying to draw a straight line with a pencil and ruler, and able to make a mess of any worksurface and get sticky fingerprints on anything, I am very pleased with the finished product.
There was a chance to observe the projects on which Stephen was working: the meticulous restoration of beautiful, and badly damaged, book and to look at the samples of materials he holds, including endpapers he has made himself.
Stephen is a patient and generous teacher: I suspect his experience working with children with special needs fitted him to work with me when I got frustrated with my efforts. He makes sure that you do the work yourself to solve each problem and never takes over, but guides you past each hump and makes sure it remains fun at all times. Highly recommended.
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.
My colleagues and I booked Stephen to come and do a book binding workshop for us at out school, so that we could get together and spend some quality time learning something new, purposeful and artistic. This opened our eyes to the beauty o book binding, such a traditional craft that can sometimes be given for granted. It was very nice to connect to the process of making a book from beginning to end, and I really enjoyed each one of the processes. Stephen held the space in a patient, professional, gentle way, giving clear instructions and individual support when needed. He had a great selection of different materials that could be used, and allowed us to explore different methods including Marbelling the paper, Stamping with an old press, Hand stitching the paper together... all of which was great fun! We all left with a stunning, unique, artistic and useful book that holds many beautiful memories. What I love about this course, is that it gave me the skills to be able to carry on at home. Stephen is also able to take you further, and help you to restore really old books. What an art! Thank you Stephen for this wonderful opportunity to learn to book bind. Many Thanks. Nereida
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!