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What are the Book Arts?
Hand Bookbinding

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Traditional Typography

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Letterpress Printing

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Hand Bookbinding


The tell tale sign of a hand bound book is its flexibility. Each section of pages is sewn with linen or silk thread  onto tapes or cords. This makes the spine of the book bend and flex without cracking. The book can work like a ‘slinky’ or move just as your body moves at the spine—without bending or breaking under normal use.

When opened, a hand sewn book will lie flat—regardless of where in the book it is opened. This differs from modern paperback books in which the folds of the sections of pages have been cut off to allow the application of adhesive to each page.  This results in spines that are stiff, frozen and crack when you attempt to lie the book open flat.

Students learn the history of the book from primitive and ancient book forms to Western books of the Middle ages, Renaissance and Modern times. In addition, students learn and execute fundamental Western bookbinding forwarding and finishing techniques including: working with rag paper text blocks; cutting and folding printed sheets into sections (signatures); kettle stitching and sewing folded sections of a book onto tapes or cords; cutting boards for hardback covers; sewing the text block to boards; 2-piece, 3-piece, quarter- and half-binding styles; handling marble and paste papers to apply end papers and fly leaves. Advanced sessions cover leather bindings and creating ornamental cover designs.

Asian adhesive and non-adhesive binding structures are created. Our works with Asian influences focus on creation of Japanese-style book structures including, stab binding techniques such as Kangxi, Hemp-Leaf, Tortoise-Shell, and Yamato four-hole binding variations; accordion and flutter book designs; and wrap-around box cases. All are created with beautiful Japanese decorative papers and silk cloths.

Those interested in bookbinding can choose from several classes or private study offered at the studio.



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For more information on any of our programs at Laurel Ridge
please contact Kate Sewalk at

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