Crossed structure bindings workshop with Lori Sauer at Heart Space Studios

Crossed structure bindings - spines
Crossed structure bindings - spines

In between the end of teaching and the beginning of marking, I have a bit of slack and so decided to take another bookbinding workshop with Lori Sauer.  This one was on crossed structure bindings, which were developed by Carmencho Arregui in her work conserving old books and bindings.  There is a great website which she has set up ( but it is a bit temperamental.  There are some nice pictures of this binding on a lovely handmade bookbinding blog, My Handbook Books (  and a flickr album (

Quite a lot of the day was torture for me because it required so much accuracy and precision to make this look like anything at all.  But we all persevered, and eventually produced some lovely books which sit beautifully in the hand.  I promised Lori that I would start using the books rather than admiring them and leaving them on a shelf and they are lovely.

My two crossed structure bound books
My two crossed structure bound books

One of the nice things about them is the patterns that the bindings make on the inside of the books:

Inside the crossed structure bindings
Inside the crossed structure bindings

One of the books is made with plain paper covers and the other with painted white paper, which was protected with some clear acrylic varnish.   I liked the quality of the linen thread we used to bind the books and added some paper ‘buttons’ to my cover which I tied on with reef knots.  I was a bit enthusiastic with my spatter painting of the paper and ended up with a rather speckled handbag – which just adds to its character, of course.

Although I find the cutting required for real bookbinding quite demanding and tiring and stress inducing, I really love the stitching.  I like the rhythm and the ‘just rightness’ of elements like the kettle stitch which keep the pages together.  I could do the sewing part all day.  Perhaps I need to find a partner who enjoys the precision work.

I came away with a set of templates for both books which I intend to use with some lovely mock suede and mock leather fabric which my mother gave me ages ago and which I think would work really well with these bindings.  And I never thought that I would hear myself say that I would willing do any more of this kind of detailed work.  So that is a testiment to Lori’s teaching.

The class took place at Heart Space Studios in Bristol, where Lori will be teaching more classes in the future.  Thoroughly recommended.

2 thoughts on “Crossed structure bindings workshop with Lori Sauer at Heart Space Studios

  1. Hi Ann,
    As another stitcher unable to draft a decent right angled corner, let alone cut anything in a straight line, I thought you coped with the class magnificently – though you were VERY quiet. And a more experienced book-binder, Liz Hewitt, confessed that your first attempt was much better than her own at this stage of her evolution.
    But I think we should now try making some rag books for patch-workers to work from in future – then we could all stitch to our heart’s content.

  2. Thanks for this. I was pretty pleased with my efforts and Mike saw the blog and is keen to do the class.

    I think it would be great to see what we could do with fabric books. Let’s put our heads together.

    Lori is a good teacher, though: great balance of hands-on and hands-off!

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