Book Arts Roundtables

Minnesota Center for Book Arts is a hub of creativity where interesting, passionate, and knowledgeable people like you learn, share ideas, and get inspired.

Join the conversation by attending our fun, interactive Book Arts Roundtables in MCBA’s lively studios. Roundtables are always FREE and open to the public.



Friday, April 25; 7pm
Book Arts Roundtable with visiting artist Quinn McDonald

Unfortunately, this Roundtable has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience.




Friday, May 16; 7pm
Book Arts Roundtable with visiting artist Rory Sparks

Free and open to the public

MCBA is proud to welcome (and welcome back!) book artist Rory Sparks. Rory has been a letterpress printer and bookbinder for 16 years. She learned through self-study, residency, apprenticeship, and at various institutions including the American Academy of Bookbinding. Rory worked at MCBA in several positions including manager of The Shop, faculty member, Studio Manager, and Teen Mentor Program Coordinator. Rory came to Oregon as an Artist-in-Residence at OCAC in 2003, and never left. She founded Em Space Book Arts Center, which provides local artists access to space and equipment for their print and book art practices. In and around Portland, she has taught at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, Portland Art Museum, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Em Space, and private tutorials. She is a private practice bookbinder and printer specializing in collaborative limited edition artist books, traditional French style leather binding, and custom designed books & portfolios for artists.

You can also join Rory at her weekend workshop:
Foolproof Proof Press Printing
Saturday and Sunday, May 17-18; 10am-5pm

For those who know the basics of letterpress printing already, this class will cover some important details to help make your press time more efficient, fun, and flawless. We will create a “pre-press success” checklist of details to consider before hopping on the press. Topics will include precise registration techniques, an overview of printing papers and their individual qualities, and an in-depth discussion about inks. We will go over types of inks and their pros and cons, precise mixing with a scale, ink additives, transparency and opacity, and creative ways to maximize these qualities.

For more details or to register, visit our Adult Workshops page.



Tuesday, July 22; 7pm
Edge Decoration Lightning Round!
Book Arts Roundtable and Demo with visiting artist Karen Hanmer

Free and open to the public

Decorated edges range from simple protection to an important design element. They can add a touch of elegance — or any other effect the binder desires. In this whirlwind demo, Hanmer will demonstrate numerous edge decoration techniques including gilding, graphite and a variety of techniques with color: solid color, sprinkling, sponging. Gauphering, sprinkling with metal leaf and hot tooling with foil on edges will also be presented.

Karen Hanmer’s artist’s books and design bindings intertwine cultural and personal memory, and are often playful in structure or content. She exhibits internationally, and her artist’s books and design bindings have won numerous awards. Hanmer’s work is included in collections ranging from The Getty Museum and the Library of Congress to Yale University and Graceland. She is a leader in the book arts community, serving on the editorial board of The Bonefolder and the Guild of Book Workers Journal and as frequent exhibition curator. She offers workshops and private instruction focusing on a solid foundation in basic binding skills.
To learn more, visit Hanmer’s website or read her recent series of interviews at the “Flash of the Hand” blog.

You can also join Karen at one of two workshops offered this summer:

Streamlined Style: Contemporary Decorative Techniques for Leather Bindings
Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8; 9am-5pm

Learn a variety of decorative techniques for use on leather bindings. These techniques require minimal equipment and modest leatherworking skill, and some can also be applied to cloth or paper. Techniques demonstrated will include: backpared onlays, inlaid lines, stamping texture into leather, feathered onlays, Lacunose (abstract sanded leather collage), various inlay techniques, laminating a paper illustration for use as an inlay, various methods of creating sculptural boards, transfer of computer-printed onlay shapes from paper to leather, and laser printing on leather. Students’ completed set of four goatskin plaquettes together with a detailed handout covering all the techniques presented will be a valuable reference for future projects. See examples of the techniques covered in this workshop online at Karen Hanmer’s website.

To register, visit our Adult Workshops page.


Advanced Bookbinding Intensive: The Simplified Binding and The Split Board Binding
Monday through Friday, July 21-25; 10am-5pm

Students in this week-long workshop will make two complete bindings. Begin working with leather and explore which features of a binding are necessary for function and protection of the text block, and the additional refinements that can transform a book into an elegant showpiece. The robust, nineteenth-century Split Binding is a perfect structure for beginning to work with leather. The paring requires minimal finesse, and the modest leather headcap is easy to form. The Simplified Binding has an elegant, streamlined look. Our workshop model will feature a spine of thinned leather, a rolled leather headband, and boards that are attached to the text block after being covered with decorative paper. Skills covered include marking up and sewing on supports, preparation of boards, rounding and backing, spine lining for support and aesthetics, edge paring, and preparing and placing a leather hinge.

To register, visit our Adult Workshops page.



Friday, August 15; 7pm
Book Arts Roundtable with visiting artist Paul Moxon

Free and open to the public

You can also join Paul at his weekend workshop:
Vandercook Maintenance
Saturday and Sunday, August 16-17; 10am-5pm

This two-day workshop is a lecture/demo developed for artist/printers to guide them in the proper care and adjustment of Vandercook presses. (This information is also applicable to other brands such as Asbern, Challenge, Reprex). Participants need not be mechanically inclined, but should have some familiarity with proof presses, and may handle tools and press parts.

For more details or to register, visit our Adult Workshops page.




Friday, September 5; 7pm
Inventing the Dos Rapporté Binding:
Book Arts Roundtable with visiting artist Benjamin Elbel

Free and open to the public

Visiting artist Benjamin Elbel will talking about how and why he came up with the dos rapporté binding (French for ‘hooked-on spine’) and the variations that he’s developed to this day.

Benjamin Elbel studied art in France before specializing in bookbinding and book conservation in Ascona, Switzerland. Following that he gained hands-on experience in various binderies in Germany and England, before setting up his own studio in London in 2012. Benjamin’s activities are divided between studio services, product design and training. Over the years he has developed many original structures that he uses in his own work and teaches across Europe (including Ascona, Mariemont, Le Vésinet, etc). For more information, visit Benjamin’s website.

You can also join Benjamin at his weekend workshop:
The Dos Rapporté Binding
Saturday and Sunday, September 6-7; 9am-5pm

The dos rapporté binding (French for “hooked-on spine”) is a special spine construction developed in recent years by French binder Benjamin Elbel. Loved by artists for its perfect flat opening, the structure is also suitable for conservation binding or stationery. This two-day workshop will cover most aspects of the structure, from the cloth-covered hardback to the (nearly) non-adhesive limp bindings. This is an intermediate/advanced class; students will be provided with materials to sew book blocks before the start of class. MCBA is proud to host Benjamin’s first-ever teaching engagement in the U.S. — grab your spot for this rare opportunity while you can!

For more details or to register, visit our Adult Workshops page.