Basic Bookbinding Class

Temporarily unavailable until further notice

PRIVATE CLASS: Cloth Binding

Private, hands-on classes are available upon inquiry. You will learn how to bind a simple cloth book from scratch and the use of some of the basic tools by the end of the class. Whole session would last approximately 8~12 hours, divided sessions over two days; 1st day on *Basic forwarding, 2nd day on Case-making & the finishing of the binding. There will be an additional brief follow up/Q&A session on a separate day if desired. All the materials and tools are supplied.

*Basic forwarding is a process of preparing a book block, which tasks basically consist of folding paper to sewing of a book, ploughing the edges to rounding and sewing headbands.

Maximum of 2 persons per session.
One person: $680
Two persons: $560 each.


Mie (Mia) H. Radcliffe: Bookbinder /Restorer in charge
She started her apprenticeship under the tutelage of  Joel Radcliffe in late 1997 and has become the official assistant bookbinder/restorer since 2003. She had worked behind Joel diligently and known as “our best kept secret”. She has been in charge of most binding and restoration works (except for publishing) since 2006, and has become in charge of  all operations at ARS OBSCURA Bookbinding & Restoration Co. since June, 2020. To see some of her works, please visit her blog.


“Rarely one comes across a forever changing experience. The bookbinding class at Ars Obscura was such one for me. Working with such a wonderful teacher, in a environment filled with magic and wonder, MHR made it very difficult for me to want to leave. Her graciousness, patience, and knowledge, are very welcoming and yet, you are made aware of the importance of discipline in the art of bookbinding (as the Master glances over with quiet encouragement). Time just flew, and the beautiful little book will always be a sweet reminder of the great time had. Can’t wait to go back! Thank you, M and Joel!”

Annabella Serra, Bainbridge Island

“Having long admired Ars Obscura’s marvelous work, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to take a class from none other than MHR, their “best kept secret.” In the course of two marathon sessions, M generously shared the techniques that she and the Master have refined over decades of hand binding and restoring precious books. Starting with a stack of high quality paper, board, and cloth, she patiently and clearly explained each step of the process in the context of its value to the aesthetic, functionality, and durability of the book. With her guidance, I not only made a beautiful clothbound book with my own hands and traditional tools, but I learned how to evaluate my work along the way.  M’s expert eye on each stage of my book’s construction, along with her emphasis on moving as efficiently as possible, form much of the superb value of this class. I am ever grateful to have learned from such a deeply talented and inspirational teacher.  Thank you, M and Joel, for dedicating your lives to this important craft and for sharing your priceless wisdom! “

Tina Cachules, Bainbridge Island 

“If you are looking for an incredible learning opportunity, you’ve come to the right place at Ars Obscura. In a marathon session (or two, depending on your schedule) led by M.H.R, you will find yourself lost in time as you learn the traditional art of binding books by hand. M is certainly the key ingredient here with decades of hands on experience and a keen eye for perfection. She is a wise, quietly encouraging teacher who demonstrates technique but insists you do it on your own (that is, after all, what you’re here for!). Throughout, M is focused on teaching you that patience is a requirement in this discipline – you cannot rush the process – and there is an emphasis on perfection when you’re creating a book that will last several lifetimes. I consider myself fortunate to have worked with M.H.R, to have been guided and inspired by her dedication to this craft, and I will seize any opportunity to be welcomed back into the bindery to continue my training. Thank you, M and Joel, for sharing your dedication and wisdom with the world around you!”

Misty McIntosh, Kingston

“You can read about the process of bookbinding and watch countless instructional videos, but in the end the only way to learn a craft is by doing it yourself. This class gives you the opportunity to create a book from scratch, with expert oversight and access to professional equipment. Although it’s pitched at absolute beginners (like myself), the goal is to learn how to make a professionally hardbound book, entirely by hand. The class takes you all the way from folding the pages of paper into signatures, to that tense final step of gluing the book block to the casing. (Only one chance to get it right, and you have to work quickly before the glue dries! I practiced in pantomime for three solid minutes before I worked up the nerve to do it.) All through the class, MHR demanded a level of precision from my work that I had to learn to even see, but which made all the difference in the final product. And she both encouraged me to ask questions, and answered them intelligently — not just the hows, but also the whys. A great experience.”

Brian Raiter, Seattle