New: Simple Codex Book Binding

A 2-day workshop introducing the techniques of traditional Codex (European hardback stitched) bookbinding. Materials will be provided to make your own fabric-bound hardback book. Beginners welcome.

Who is this course for

This course is suitable for beginners and those with previous experience of book making or paper crafts. The course consists of 2 x Saturday workshops, which should be attended consecutively. Simple Codex Book Binding will introduce the history and concept of the codex (the classic hard cover book-binding technique) and will allow students to practice the techniques, and to create their own hardback fabric-bound book. Please note that this course does not include papermaking, or printing processes. Students will be supported to make a book of their own, following demonstrations of the techniques and processes.

No previous experience is necessary, however, a certain degree of manual dexterity to handle a craft knife, plus needle and thread are required for codex binding. These techniques will be taught in the classes, and students will be supported to learn them on the course.

What does this course cover

The course will start with a short introduction to the history and concepts of codex bookbinding, followed by demonstrations of the techniques needed to create your own book from standard materials. Students will then have the opportunity to create their own book, using the materials provided. In the second and final class, students will have time to design and create their own unique book, using their own materials if desired. At the end of the course, we will hold an informal review/exhibition of students' finished books, to recognise and share individual achievements and celebrate successes.
By the end of the course you should be able to:
1. Understand and recognise codex binding
2. Create your own book using basic materials

What will it be like

In the first class, the history of the codex will be introduced, and the techniques and processes demonstrated. Students will then have the opportunity to create their own book, using the materials provided. In the second and final class, students will have time to design and create their own unique book, using their own materials if desired. There will be a lunch break from 1-2pm, and informal coffee break for those who want them during each session.

This is not an accredited course but progress will be informally monitored by the tutor. At the start of the course there will be a short questionnaire to establish personal goals for the course, and any particular needs or aspirations students may have. This will help the tutor to best support all students.

Assessment is informal, and takes the form of a review and discussion of students' work at the end of the course. This is important in developing understanding and also helps students gain confidence. Students will receive verbal feedback from the tutor about their progress.

What else do you need to buy or do

Materials will be provided, but for the second class you may wish to bring your own:
1. Fancy/coloured papers for pages
2. Fabric or leather for the cover
3. Decorative papers for endpapers

Useful items to bring if you have them:
1. a pair of sharp scissors and/or a pair of good nail scissors
2. a good craft knife, carpet knife or scalpel (plus spare blades)
3. a small cutting mat
4. a metal ruler
Total cost = approx £20

There will be no compulsory 'homework' set, but students will be encouraged to continue to explore their ideas and practise techniques between classes where possible. They will also be encouraged to visit relevant exhibitions and museums to gather inspiration for their book.

What this course could lead to

No qualification is gained, but this course can help students to progress to other art or art history courses at Mary Ward Centre, including Level 2 and 3 courses, if appropriate. This course is also suitable for aiming to build up a portfolio of diverse mixed media work.

There is detailed information in Reception about all our courses at the Mary Ward Centre and a library of prospectuses for other London colleges to help you continue your studies. If you need more detailed advice, please ask a member of reception staff, and a half-hour guidance interview can be arranged for you.
Information about other learning opportunities can be obtained from Learn Direct: tel: 0800 101 901, and from the following websites:;

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’