Be part of the centuries-long tradition of bookbinding on Iona or request a workshop a bit closer to home

“I chose to enrol after looking at your beautiful work and was delighted to find you are a great tutor too.”

We know books have been made on Iona at least as long ago as the 9th Century when the Book of Kells was created, and likely long before that. Now you can try the craft yourself while you’re visiting the island.

I offer regularly scheduled workshops here on Iona, private tutoring, classes on the mainland, or you can book me to teach a workshop in your location of choice. 

Workshops on Iona are held in the newly built Iona Village Hall – a beautiful space to work in, and centrally located just a couple minutes walk from the pier.

“Toben is a fantastic teacher and I can’t recommend his workshops enough. I can’t wait to get home to make my next one.”

Beginner sessions

Never tried bookbinding? Gie it a bash

During the main season I offer scheduled afternoon sessions in beginner’s bookbinding. It’s a great opportunity to spend a couple of hours with a few other interested individuals as I walk you through the steps to creating your very own book. They are held once a week, usually on a Wednesday afternoon, between April and the end of September starting at 14.00 and lasting for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Each participant will leave the session with at least one book that they have created themselves – and hopefully a greater appreciation for the craft of bookbinding, and maybe even the start of a new hobby / obsession.

No experience necessary, all tools and materials are provided. I change the content of these workshops every year, so if you’ve come before feel free to join in again and learn a new technique. 

Each session is a standalone event, perfect if you’re just on the island for a few days and want a unique handmade memento of your time on Iona.

Class sizes are kept small to ensure each person can be given individual attention.

Please note these workshops are not suitable for children.

These sessions can also be held by request for small groups outside of the scheduled times throughout the year. Please get in touch to arrange.

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Workshop space on Iona for bookbinding classes

Off-island workshops

Want to take part in a workshop but Iona is a wee bit too far for you? You might be able to find me on the mainland as well. Upcoming events are listed below, or contact me to request a workshop for your group.

If there are no workshops listed below, it either means there aren’t any currently planned or they just haven’t been announced yet – but you can sign up to the newsletter if you’d like to be notified when they are.

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Request a workshop

I am happy to teach by request in a location of your choice. Listed below are some ready-to-go workshop topics, or get in touch with your own ideas and we’ll work together to sculpt a bespoke workshop. If you’d like me to come teach for your group please contact me for availability and further information.

4-in-1 (turning) box – A full day workshop making a clever wee box that opens up to reveal four trays. Suitable for beginners and those with some experience.

Debossed book covers – A full day workshop making a simple hardback book with debossed designs on the covers. Suitable for beginners and those with some experience.

Glaswegian stab binding – A full day workshop making a modern stab bound book with sewing inspired by the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Suitable for beginners and those with some experience.

DIY stab binding design – A two day workshop walking through the steps to creating your own stab binding designs. We’ll finish the day by bringing those designs to life on a stab bound book to take away. Suitable for those with some experience.

Make your own sketchbook – A customisable workshop that can be tailored to suit your group’s availability, as this can be either a 2 hour, half day, or full day workshop. The type of binding will depend on the time available. Everyone will complete the workshop with a lay flat sketchbook or journal of their own making. Sketchbooks can also be covered with papers decorated by the students prior to the class (with advance coordination to ensure suitable paper with correct grain is used). Suitable for beginners and those with some experience.

A bevy of booklets – A full day workshop in which we will make a number of different basic bindings that can be easily replicated at home with a very basic set of tools. Both single page and folded page bindings will be used. Ideal for book artists looking for ways to shape their work into books or new binders to learn a range of techniques in a short space of time. Suitable for complete beginners.

Typography for book artists – This is a presentation rather than a workshop, covering basic concepts of typography for use both on and in books. One hour, requires use of a large screen or projector.

Bookbinding taster session – A short two hour hands on session for complete beginners. Students will finish two small books. All tools and materials are provided.

Private classes

One on one tuition is available either in my studio, or using Iona Village Hall, on a wide variety of topics catering to a range of abilities and experience. Please contact me for availability and further information.

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Refund policy

Cancellations made 14 days or more in advance of the event date, will receive a 100% refund. Cancellations made within 3 to 13 days of the event will incur a 50% fee. Cancellations made within 48 hours of the event are non-refundable. When you register for a class, you agree to these terms.

In the unlikely event that I need to cancel a workshop, as much notice as possible will be given and you will be refunded in full.

COVID

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, if you have been asked to self-isolate, or if you are feeling generally unwell, please do not attend the workshop you have booked. Please also contact me with as much notice as possible so we can make appropriate arrangements.

Visiting Iona

Not sure how to get here, or where to stay?

The Community Council have a very helpful website (welcometoiona.com) with directions and links for travel, as well as listings for many of the accommodation options, shops, and other amenities.

Iona is a small but busy little island. There’s plenty of places to choose from but it’s best to book well in advance!