Tiny Book Workshop(s)

As some may know, I am the bookbinder at Stony Brook University Libraries in the Preservation Department, and a part-time library science student [edit: now a graduate!]. When I have my library science degree at the end of this year, I plan on working in a public-facing position in an academic and public library. Unfortunately, because my position right now is in technical services, I rarely interact with the public. So I need to work on gaining ‘customer service’ and teaching experience within my current position. I volunteer for as many outreach events as I can, and I currently run our library’s Instagram page. In an effort to gain more teaching experience and align with the SBU Libraries’ new engagement mission, I decided to work with my supervisor and begin offering bookbinding workshops.

Workshop: So You Want to Make a Tiny Book? Ash & Elm Press
I love making these tiny books! They’re quick, don’t use a lot of materials, and I can experiment to my heart’s content.

A little background: as the libraries’ bookbinder, I mostly perform minor repairs on books, every once in a while tackling a larger project. But I have taken many classes in the book arts, and consider myself an amateur book artist, as you can tell from my Etsy shop and this blog. While there is an interest in the history of the book in the History and English departments on campus, we weren’t sure what the response would be for bookbinding classes- they were just too new. In an effort to get people interested in future bookbinding and book repair classes, we decided to first offer a fun, cute, and easy bookbinding workshop: So You Want to Make a Tiny Book?

Workshop: So You Want to Make a Tiny Book? Ash & Elm Press
The promotional image for our first bookbinding workshop, now full.

We picked a date, time, and I created promotional materials and a description of the workshop. Our outreach coordinator added the event to the university’s email announcements, and we all prepared to begin posting about the event on our different social media channels as soon as classes started this spring. But before we even got a chance to advertise, the class was full!

Workshop: So You Want to Make a Tiny Book? Ash & Elm Press
Workshop attendees will have the option of making a leather or felt book, as some people aren’t comfortable working with leather.

We had allowed only 10 spots, because bookbinding classes with only one teacher need to be small, but this was still rare for our library’s workshop offerings. It turns out, instead of it being students interested in a fun bookbinding class as I expected, it was the university faculty that rushed to sign up! Faculty who tried to register after it was filled began contacting the library, and asking when another class was going to be offered, and to let them know right away so they could register. So we picked another date, raised the class cap to 12, and notified the faculty. So far, there are only 5 spots left in the second workshop, and we’re waiting until this Friday afternoon to begin advertising it on social media to fill those last few spots. Additionally, many fellow staff members in the library have shown interest, so we are going to offer two workshops in March just for library staff who would like to learn.

Workshop: So You Want to Make a Tiny Book? Ash & Elm Press
The promotional image for our second workshop, by popular demand.

I am excited, and a little overwhelmed at the attention these classes are getting. In the future, I hope to offer more traditional bookbinding workshops for the campus community, including long stitch, Coptic stitch, stab binding, and other historical binding styles. Eventually we may branch into other book arts classes such as paper making, book repair, and maybe even paper marbling (how fun!).

The first workshop is February 10th- I hope it goes well, and I will keep you all posted 🙂 I’ve taught before, but never original bookbinding or book art. I think as long as everyone learns something and has fun, it will be a success. Let me know if you would be interested in bookbinding kits and instructions from my Etsy store, or instructional YouTube videos on bookbinding and book repair in the comments below 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Tiny Book Workshop(s)

  1. Actually, I do have a question: where do you get your leather and what tools beyond an awl, needle and thread do you need? I checkout out a book on leather working and it looks like I’ll need a few more things but I’d love to hear from someone who is already beautifully crafting leather books😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, it really depends on what you want to do with the leather. If you want to do non-adhesive stuff like this, where you just sew through the leather, then any good leather will do that’s at least 3 oz in thickness, although i recommend 5oz or above if it’s bigger than these tiny books. There are official leather stores that sell amazing quality bookbinding leather, but it’s really expensive ($60-$100+ a hide). That’s the kind of stuff you want if you’re doing glued leather on boards- you don’t want to skimp on quality because you’ll be paring the leather, and that’s difficult (although there are inexpensive tools to do it now). For these, I experimented with a few people on eBay who sell unwanted fashion leather- if there’s slight discoloration or grain flaws, fashion designers won’t use it, but it looks better on books! Right now I use The Leather Guy, he has a regular online store and an ebay one. Shipping can be a lot, but if you buy a few hides at once (4-6) it brings down the shipping price a lot. And I buy my felt from One of the Flock, their super thick 100% wool felt.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There’s more to it, maybe I should write a post on how I choose my leather, the differences between goat, lamb, and cow, etc. I usually use lambskin because it’s easier to find. Goat is stiffer, and can be better for free form books like this, but lamb is softer and more supple, so people like it more anyway. I pay about $30-$40 a hide usually, but if you make tiny books like these you get A LOT of books out of that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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