Friday, July 1, 2016

16th Century Binding

©Anne Rita Taylor 2016

Focus on Book Arts is a conference held near Portland, Oregon offering several days of workshops on bookbinding, calligraphy, paper making, media backgrounds and more. 

Held in odd-numbered years, I attended a few years ago and learned how to make this 16th Century Limp Paper Binding. 

Taught by Jana Pullman, who is an award winning fine book artist. Here is her website, Western Slope Bindery. She has a fabulous blog with several DIY: About the Binding.

I left the insides open so I would remember all that we did in one day!

The Limp Binding was commonly used for prayer books and text books in the 16th century.  We sewed blank books in the workshop. Endpapers can be glued over the front and back sewed thongs. 

This type of binding has been called “simple” but with all the leather pieces going through the covers I find it more on the intermediate side of bookbinding.

We sewed the text block on double tawed goat leather thongs. This type of sewing begins by going out of the sewing station between the pair of thongs.

When I made one at home I made a packed straight sewing on a single cow leather cord.

I learned how to sew a headband onto leather tongs similar to the sewing supports. I had glued ready-made headbands to the top of books before and this procedure was a revelation!

In the workshop we used handmade paper for the covers; at home I used a thick paper from India I found at Paper Source.

I was happy to learn the Limp Binding and am amazed I learned so much in one day!


  1. This looks quite complicated. I love to see bindings I haven't seen before.

    1. Thanks - Re: comment! It was more complicated than I had imagined when I signed up for the class. I like to try bindings I haven't seen before too!