Home Study Programme

As well as online workshops, CBBAG continues to provide bookbinding education through its Home Study Programme during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A few images from the Home Study manuals by Alison Vallance:

back-combing hdcp.jpg
Back combing
Bookbinding I

Breaking the edge
Bookbinding II

Kettle Stitch
Bookbinding I

Cloth hinge
Bookbinding II

First crossover headband
Bookbinding II

Completing the headband
Bookbinding II

Pasting small tuck-in of corner Bookbinding I

Knocking up
Bookbinding I

German zig-zag
Bookbinding II

Bookbinding II

Forming the ear of the headcap Bookbinding III

Cutting position on skin of leather
Bookbinding III

Natural hollow
Bookbinding III

Below is information on courses available and links to registration information (and price list).

Starting in 2021, the Home Study programme is being updated beginning with Bookbinding I

The programme streams are being renamed to reflect the updates. The Monitoring stream will be called the Guided stream. The Resource and Reference stream will be called the Independent stream.

The Guided Stream of Bookbinding 1 is now open for registration. Anyone interested in registering for the workshop should read through these pre-registration guidelines in advance of enrolling. 

The Independent Stream of Bookbinding I and  both the Independent and Guided streams of Bookbinding II and III are still available for new participants, as well as the Independent Stream for Restoration & Repair, Finishing, Introduction to Leather, and Marbling.

Home Study courses available are:

The various prices for the Home Study Programme components are available on the Home Study Course Registration page.

Detailed information is available on the HS Guidelines and General Information page.

The answers to some frequently asked questions can be found at the Home Study FAQs.

You can read about one student's experience with the Home Study Programme: CBBAG member Cameron Garland wrote on Home Study for the summer 2005 issue of the CBBAG Newsletter, available in PDF format.

It has always been the objective of the CBBAG education programme that courses be as accessible as possible while providing full instruction, ultimately enabling the student to function independently. This policy is continuing with the CBBAG Home Study Programme.

Students simultaneously learn to create the project models and to establish a technical base from which to continue to function in bookbinding. CBBAG is teaching to a high standard presenting acceptable techniques and sound materials to the students. You are receiving a solid grounding, learning the basics necessary to build on.

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild Home Study Programme incorporates the CBBAG core curriculum. It consists of the following components: Bookbinding I, Bookbinding II, Bookbinding III, Finishing, Restoration & Repair, Endpapers, Introduction to Leather, and Paper Treatments for Binders. CBBAG does not teach paper conservation.
Available for purchase are 
  • Bookbinding I
  • Bookbinding II
  • Bookbinding III
  • Restoration & Repair
  • Introduction to Leather
  • Finishing
  • Marbling: a guide to the craft of watercolour marbling

All are composed of multiple components of audio-visual material of approximately two hours duration each (on a USB drive) and a manual.  A Lexicon accompanies Bookbinding I. Due to the nature of the programme, the core curriculum course Paper Treatments for Binders is available only as an in-studio course.

Due to the intensive nature of the Home Study programme, it is appropriate for those over 18 years of age.

Bookbinding I is considered the fundamental course, teaching terminology, materials, tools, techniques, and basic concepts. The projects are very simple and introduce the use of the basic techniques. Bookbinding I includes six components:
  • Setting up the shop and tools
  • Materials and techniques, making a picture frame
  • Sewing variations, endpapers
  • Bookcloth and board
  • Making the case
  • Hanging-in the textblock, adhesion, and expansion and contraction

This course includes pamphlet sewing, lap stitch sewing, quarter, half, and full cloth case binding, and concepts of grain, warp and pull, swell, and the joint. Incorporated in the Bookbinding I course is an enrichment segment on Sewing Variations. 

Bookbinding II components are:
  • Making bookcloth, paper calculations, sewing endpapers, reducing the swell
  • Rounding and backing, edge treatments
  • Sewn headbands, spine linings, hollow tubes
  • Critiquing the fit, the German Case, Bradel binding

This course includes recessed cord lap stitch sewing, invisible and visible hinge hooked endpapers, simple edge treatments, the traditional two-stripe endband, rounding and backing, hollow tube and Bradel attachment of boards to textblock, as well as concepts of the natural shoulder and expansion and contraction. 
Bookbinding II includes the enrichment segment on Endpapers (2 components):
  • Function and structure
  • Demonstration

Note: Bookbinding I (in-studio or Monitoring Stream) is required for Bookbinding II Monitoring Stream

Bookbinding III components are:
  • Joint construction, packed sewing, German zigzag
  • Review of rounding and backing, hanging on boards
  • Leather spine and corners, critique of student work
  • Headcaps, finishing

Bookbinding III includes the Chris Clarkson endband, raised cord sewing, German zigzag endpaper, sanding and lining the spine for the tight back, lacing-in of boards, covering-in with leather including forming the headcap and raised bands, the concept of extension and compression, tight shoulder and tight back, inside and outside pivot points, etc. 

Bookbinding III also includes Introduction to Leather, which is also offered separately.

Note: Bookbinding II (in-studio or Monitoring Stream) is required for Bookbinding III Monitoring Stream

Finishing includes a manual and three components:
  • Tools, blind tooling
  • Lettering lallet, gold tooling
  • Titling on the spine, inlay, onlay

Restoration & Repair includes three components:
  • Mechanisms causing deterioration in books, documentation, estimating costs
  • methods for correcting structural problems, assessing books for repair
  • Repair techniques

Included as well are two components:
  • Colour Theory: Practical Tips for Colouring Paper & Cloth with Martha Cole and The Use of Japanese Paper in Book Conservation with Don Etherington

Restoration & Repair subjects include documentation, written and photographic, estimating costs, causes of deterioration (environmental and internal), basic structures, mechanical problems and some solutions.

Restoration & Repair is not a beginner's course. It requires bench technique and previous knowledge of how to make a hollow and the German Case, as well as the extended spine liner (lining the spine with linen which is wide enough to form inner hinges), endbands, touching up of rounding, and backing, etc. There are also basic structural concepts which students should have. Students should have knowledge of basic bookbinding before doing this course.

Marbling: a guide to the craft of watercolour marbling is composed of a 160 page manual (including 63 colour and 43 B+W illustrations) and a USB drive of audio-visual materials. This is the most comprehensive home study marbling course currently available. It provides a complete introduction to the basics of marbling including materials, methods, colour, design, and technical process. The USB drive provides three hours of instructional material with Shelagh Smith, videotaped by Ellen Spears. While the emphasis is on watercolour marbling, there are in addition short sections on oil colour, acrylic and gouache marbling, and marbling on fabric, clay, and wood. The manual also provides recommended reading and suppliers lists.

The HS Guidelines and General Information is available for viewing and printing out. 

For more information contact CBBAG at homestudy@cbbag.ca

There are two streams available: Independent and Guided.

The Independent Stream constitutes outright purchase of the home study assets with no further CBBAG input.

In the Guided Stream for Bookbinding III, and III, the participant submits specified projects and models by mail for comment and critique by a mentor.

Finishing, EndpapersIntroduction to LeatherRestoration & Repair, and Marbling are available in the Independent Stream only. Finishing and Restoration & Repair must be taken in-studio to qualify for the CBBAG Certificate of Completion.

For more information contact CBBAG at homestudy@cbbag.ca


  • Purchases of Home Study workshops in either the Guided Steam or Independent Stream are final, with no refunds available.

  • Participants in the Guided Stream must keep their CBBAG membership current during the entire period of their working with their mentor.

  • Audio-visual material for the Independent Stream and for Bookbinding II and III Guided Stream was filmed during in-persons classes.

Click here for the Home Study Courses Price List.

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