Core Curriculum & the Certificate of Completion

CBBAG is a teaching and learning organization committed to developing and delivering high quality programmes and resources to serve the needs of the beginner through master level book artist, both traditional and contemporary. CBBAG is the only Canadian association with a structured bookbinding curriculum. Participants have been drawn from every province in Canada, the United States, and overseas.


The core curriculum offers a high standard of teaching, presenting specialist techniques and introducing sound materials. Through the creation of the project models, participants establish a technical base from which to continue to function in bookbinding and book arts. Participants receive a solid grounding, learning the basics necessary to pursue traditional bookbinding and book arts.


The CBBAG core curriculum consists of the six workshops, plus an optional enrichment workshop:

  • Bookbinding 1
  • Bookbinding 2
  • Bookbinding 3
  • Finishing
  • Restoration & Repair
  • Paper Treatments for Binders
  • Introduction to Leather (optional)

Bookbinding 1 introduces the variety of tools, materials, sewings, and constructions fundamental to hand bookbinding. The projects will teach the basic skills of paper manipulation, pasting, measuring, supported vs unsupported sewing, groove vs tight shoulder and casing-in / hanging-in. The workshop starts with the making of a simple pamphlet and proceed to the binding of two hard cover books. This workshop is a common pre-requisite for many CBBAG workshops.


Bookbinding 2 introduces intermediate techniques necessary for traditional binding structures, such as rounding and backing, sewn end bands, recessed cord sewing, the hollow tube, simple edge treatments and visible/invisible hinge hooked endpapers. Participants will sew two models, completing one as a German case binding and the other as either a Bradel or split board binding.


Bookbinding 3 introduces the advanced techniques used for traditional leather covered, fine binding structures, such as leather paring, lacing-in of boards, back cornering and covering-in on the book. Participants will make two models, both with sewn headbands, attached boards, and covered in half leather.  The first model will be sewn on recessed cords with a hollow tube construction; the second model will be sewn on raised cords with a tight back construction.


Optional Enrichment Workshop: Introduction to Leather is designed as an adjunct to Bookbinding 3. The workshop is a comprehensive introduction to the different types of leather and explores a variety of paring techniques used in bookbinding.


Finishing will introduce the basic concepts and techniques used in decorating leather-bound books. The workshop covers blind and gold tooling; titling; several methods of inlay and onlay; historical decorative tools; and typical elements of design. The workshop includes a thorough discussion and practicing of various techniques on different kinds of leathers.


Restoration & Repair has two parts. Part one focuses on 19th century publisher’s cloth case bindings: how to identify them, what conservation problems they develop, and how to repair and restore them. Part two will focus on leather bindings of the 18th, 19th and 20th century, the deterioration problems they develop, and the various techniques currently used to repair them. Participants will need to bring examples of both a cloth bound and leather-bound example to work on.


Paper Treatments for Binders covers the basic treatments used to solve the paper problems that binders frequently encounter in printed book materials. The workshop includes topics such as mould, pressure sensitive tape, minor tears, tidelines, localized staining, cockling, acidity and discolouration, washing, drying and flattening methods.


Certificate of Completion

CBBAG gives a "certificate of completion" on completion of all six of the core curriculum courses whether taken in-studio or a combination of in-studio and Guided stream Home Study.


The six required workshops are Bookbinding 1, 2, and 3, Restoration & Repair, Finishing, and Paper Treatments for Binders.

Please note that only Bookbinding 1,2 and 3 are available through the Guided stream of the Home Study Programme; therefore, in order to qualify for a Certificate of Completion, one must complete Finishing, Restoration & Repair, and Paper Treatments for Binders in-studio.


The Certificate of Completion is not formal accreditation. However, CBBAG has had students who were already working in conservation jobs completed the six courses, and were extremely pleased with the mass of material they had learned and found it useful in their work.

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