The Ethiopian Binding




Instructor: Karen Hanmer
Skill Level: Intermediate
Materials Fee: $80.00
Length of workshop: 2 days

Date: Saturday, Sunday, June 29 & 30, 2019



Workshop description:

The Ethiopian binding structure may have emerged as early as the fourth century and was in use for hundreds of years. The wooden boards are sewn through multiple holes onto the text block as if they were the first and last signatures. This pattern is one of the elements that differentiates an Ethiopian binding from other text blocks sewn with a series of chain stitches across the spine. Historically, the text blocks were made of vellum. Students will make a leather-covered Ethiopian binding with a braided leather headband sewn on after covering. We will begin by folding and punching signatures, and drilling holes into wood boards. If time permits, simple tooling will enhance the finished binding.

Materials/equipment to be supplied by students:
bone and Teflon folders in a variety of sizes, one coming to a fine, tapered point
Ace bandage
small cutting mat, 9” x 12″ is adequate
X-acto knife/scalpel/Olfa with several extra blades
12″ ruler
large and small brushes for paste and PVA
beeswax for sewing
45/45/90 degree triangle
waste paper
PVA glue
pencil and paper
weight (paper-covered brick provided by FOBA)
plastic containers for paste
old washcloth/dishcloth
sponge and a dish for water
Signature Punching cradle – instructions to make one here:

Dremel or hand drill like Fiskars #85167097J
1/16″ drill bit – Please note: to use small drill bits in a Dremel you may also need the #4486 MulitPro Keyless Chuck; it can be ordered here.

scrap of wood or stack of scrap board to drill into, about 1″ thick and 4” x 6″
6” x 4″ square of non-skid shelf lining
small C-clamp or quick-grip clamp
micro spatula – found at Talas #TTB002001 or similar
square with base – found at Talas #TTB041001, or some device to keep text block square
dividers – found at Talas # TTB033004 or similar
small chisel – 3/16” (4 or 5 mm) is ideal; a beautiful micro chisel from Shanna Leino available through her website or Talas.

finishing tools in geometric shapes – traditional for these bindings or any desired
These online resources may provide design ideas for the tooling

Materials/equipment to be provided by instructor:
text paper
straight and curved needles
card for spacers and templates
board lining
binding and endsheet models
handout with complete instructions and bibliography
sharps container

Prerequisite experience/skills needed for this class:
How to thread a needle and wax the thread
How to fold paper using a bone folder and assemble signatures      
How to tie a weaver’s knot
How to sew a kettle stitch
How to determine paper grain & match the grain of different book components
How to glue up paper or cloth to cover binder’s board
How to prepare book for drying

Has made, independent of a class:
Simple sewn text block for codex book
Coptic stitch book
Historical binding
knows how to use a Dremel
Has sewn endbands