Bookbinding Workshop with Rachel Mauser

Bookbinding Workshop with Rachel Mauser

 (3 days  / 1.5 hours each day)

My very good friend Rachel came in as a visiting artist this week to co-teach an afterschool bookbinding workshop (so exciting that my students can meet her, and vise versa). Rachel and I went to Murray State together, we shared a painting studio, and a home.  After graduating, Rachel was awarded the Windgate Fellowship which allows her to travel while focusing on making art.

I really admire her for this. When you go to school to study art you become deeply invested in your habits of artmaking, but when pushed into the real world after graduating, you are in many ways forced to focus on finding a job and supporting the cost of just living. If your lucky, you find a job in the art field. But even so, the artmaking in your own life (especially when you become an art teacher) begins to dwindle down. And other things become seemingly more important. 


I think it is so great when students get to meet and talk with artists in the community. So often students see teaching as the only field for art, but with exposure to artists they are able to see how other people have jobs but still continue to make art. I know they are only in middle school, but they need to know now that art is an option it’s not just a hobby (although it can be that too of course).


Workshop Day 1 of 3

I had 8 students total for this workshop (just the right size). We began with a circle where we introduced ourselves,  had snacks and shared the high and low point of our day. Then, students filled out a short survey so that I could gage their knowledge of bookbinding while Rachel showed them some of her books. I had students rate on a scale of 1-10 their current knowledge of bookbinding. The average was 2.5 out of 10.

 I asked students the following questions and these were some of their responses..  

1. What is Bookbinding?

               When you bind books, putting a book together, like scrapbooking, the act of binding pages together, making pages and putting them together and when you make a book.

2. What are some bookbinding techniques?

               Sewing, binding, I dont really know I just wanted to try a new thing, IDK, yarn/string, sewing a spine, using plastic things (like on the agendas), and  japanese style.

3. What do you hope to gain from this workshop?

             To learn how to bookbind, what bookbinding is, to learn more about bookbinding and understand/enjoy the process, to learn a very fast and easy way to bind books, to learn types of bookbinding.

Very good.

Workshop Day 2 of 3

Today, Rachel showed the students more of her books. Some of the more sculptural ones.  I believe this was a breakthrough for the students, because they were able to see that bookbinding doesn’t always mean making a book that looks like a book. After eating our snack and seeing Rachels sculptural books, we began the next steps for our books. We measured our covers and drew slits (so that ribbon could eventually run through), cut the slits with exacto knives, applied glue to the front and back cover, smoothed our fabric over the covers and then cut off the corners.

Workshop Day 3 of 3

Well, it looks like I am going to have to add another day to the workshop because we didn’t quite finish.

Today, we measured and waxed our thread, measured the spine and made markings for the thread holes, and then used a needle (or an awl) to poke holes where we made our markings.

Day 4 of ..3?

Finally finished! Our books turned out awesome and most importantly, the students were proud of them. Maybe thats half of what artmaking is about- creating something you are proud of. 

I wish I had more books to show, but they were so excited I guess they just rushed away with them!


So, back to that survey they took. After the workshop,  I gave them the same scale(that they had on day1) to circle how much they know about bookbinding. After the workshop, the average was 8 out of 10. I also asked them some similar questions and here are some responses:

1. What is bookbinding?

The art of sewing pages together to a cover, the art of binding books, the art process of binding books, binding books with thread skillfully, and creating books.

2. What are some bookbinding techniques?

To be patient, brish the glue down, its easier to glue if you use less glue, weaving through the signatures, crossing through what you already binded to bind more closely, awling, gluing, waxing the string, cutting, measuring, french bookbinding, kettle knot, square knot, french stitching, folding pages, and cutting pages.

3. What have you gained from taking this workshop?

A background in bookbinding, learning a new stitch, beginners insight into the world of bookbinding, I could do this in my down-time, new techniques and potentially a new hobby


cutting pages, sewing, waxing thread, i liked it a lot, making the pages, choosing fabrics and ribbons, making the slits, i liked decorating the most


folding paper, the sewing

    What can you share with your peers?

how to make a book, I could share how cool and fun bookbinding could be.



Link to Rachels blog and artwork:


How To Make a Book: French Bookbinding (courtesy of Rachel)


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