All posts by Robert East

On-Line Courses for Introduction to Bookbinding Taster Sessions

With the assistance of Help For Heroes (H4H) Scotland, Veterans Tribe Scotland (VTS) and Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) Portsmouth, BBV has put together on-line courses which are able to be undertaken by veterans in Scotland and an in-person session in Portsmouth. They are arranged by:

Further details can be found in the Events page of the website or from the facilitators listed above.


Online Courses and Courses at The Barn

With the constraints that Covid regulations have placed on us, BBV has developed online courses which are delivered using the Zoom conferencing app. Students are sent a box containing all the tools and materials required to complete the course in the comfort of their own home. The courses are split into two parts made up of two days and three days and this arrangement is proving popular with our students. The tools are returned to BBV at the end of the course.

In addition to the main courses, BBV has developed an online version of the Beginners’ Bookbinding Sessions which were previously held at Tedworth House, Tidworth. A trial run has taken place and it is planned to launch these in the New Year.

Face to face courses have returned to the Barn at Woodborough with suitable Covid precautions in place.

Anyone wanting further information about any of our courses should contact Wendy Lagden on [email protected]

Bookbinding Adhesives

Bookbinding Adhesives

One question we are asked more than any other is what is the difference between bookbinding adhesives. When for example do you use paste rather than PVA/EVA and in what circumstances is one type of adhesive more suitable than another. To answer this question we need to understand the properties of the adhesives.

Modern bookbinding adhesives, principally PVA and EVA have been in common use since the 1970’s and replaced the older hot glues, sometimes referred to as ‘Scotch’ or animal glue which were made from bones and hide. The option to use the modern white glues has several advantages.

So when to use them?


Both PVA and EVA can be used for almost all binding processes that involve cloth and paper. PVA (Poly Vinyl Acetate) and EVA (Ethylene-vinyl Acetate) have very little odour and they are instantly ready for use and are quick drying. EVA is also reversible in water.

Shepherds recommend a type known as EVA which as well as being very strong is also flexible which makes it ideal for gluing up and lining spines that must be able to bend and move easily when the book is opened.

But EVA and PVA’s fast drying time requires you to work quickly and although you can thin them down with water, most binders prefer to use a small amount of paste mixed in to prolong the open time and make it easier to use. This is particularly useful in hot weather or in very dry atmospheres. You can also buy a ready mixed 50/50 of EVA and paste from shepherds for all round use.

All modern white glues are water based, have no dangerous components and a normal storage life of six months providing they are kept in sealed containers between 7oC and 30oC.


Many professional bookbinders make their own paste, particularly those working in the traditional way with leather and fine binding. A simple paste can be made from wheat starch and water and will last several days when refrigerated or you can buy ready made starch and rice pastes from suppliers such as shepherds and Hewit.

Because of its much higher moisture content paste has a far longer open time or drying time. This is particular important when applying adhesive to a large area, such a big sheet of paper.
Binders also often prefer paste to EVA in situations where they require good ‘slip properties’. The additional moisture gives more time for adjustment without the adhesive drying too quickly. The disadvantage of the longer drying time is that the binding process is inevitably slower and you need to consider the effect additional moisture can have on different materials.

Moisture content

When you apply wet adhesives to materials the moisture content in the glue stretches the paper and as it dries the paper contracts and pulls the board into a curve. Because paste has a higher moisture content than PVA the stretch and contraction will be stronger so you will end up with a more pronounced curve.

To counteract this warping with either adhesive, and this is one of the golden principles of bookbinding , it is important to glue another material to the other side to pull it flat. For example when you make a cover the endpaper then pulls the boards flat when the book dries.


The most important thing is that you are comfortable in applying the adhesive, that it is easy to spread with the brush (or roller if you prefer) and that it doesn’t dry out before you have had time to apply adhesive to the whole surface. I would recommend practicing on a small area to see how the adhesive responds if you have the time and materials to spare. Like anything practice makes perfect and you will start to make your own informed decisions with the more experience you have.

As you progress with bookbinding you will find many circumstances where paste is preferable to EVA; this is particularly true in fine leather work and paper repairs. Many binders may use both Paste and EVA simultaneously, mixing them together according to need.

But for those of you working mainly with paper and bookcloth, PVA/EVA and PVA paste mix will cover most of your needs.

Hopefully this introduction to bookbinding adhesives has uncovered some of the mysteries and will help you make the right choice of adhesives for your projects.

Mylyn McMcoll

May 2021

Course News – Covid 19 Update No 8 – STOP PRESS – 10 Feb 21

It had been hoped to resume courses at Woodborough in March but this is no longer possible so we are developing on-line tutorials to enable students to undergo training for the C&G’s Level 1 Bookbinding Course  (Unit 118). This course is normally 5 days in length held from a Monday to Friday but is being split into two modules. Part 1 will now be two days and Part 2 three days.

For details of the new dates and timings for the courses in March 2021 visit the Events page at

For further information or to bid for a place on any of the courses contact the Courses Administrator at [email protected]

Posted 10 Feb 21

Course News – Covid 19 Update No 7 – STOP PRESS – 13 JAN 21

This is an amendment to Update No 6.

Only courses in January and February 2021 have been cancelled.

We sincerely hope that we will be able to restart courses in March 2021 but we will have to abide by the government’s guidance in the light of the progress of the Covid-19 pandemic. If it proves not possible to resume courses face-to-face in March we will investigate other options.

Further updates will be given via the Newsletters sent to all subscribers and through this News section of the BBV website.

If you need further information, please contact the Course Administrator at: http://[email protected]

Course News – Covid 19 Update No 6 – STOP PRESS

Regrettably, because of the latest “lockdown” and the restrictions which have been imposed, we have had to make the decision to cancel all courses for January, February and March 2021.

We sincerely hope that we will be able to restart courses in April 2021 but we will have to abide by the government’s guidance in the light of the progress of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you need further information, please contact the Course Administrator at: http://[email protected]

Course News – Covid 19 Update No 4 – STOP PRESS

Because of the latest Lockdown it has, regrettably, been necessary to cancel the courses scheduled for November 2020 and the first course in December (Paper Repairs 1-2 Dec).

The next scheduled course to run at The Daffodil Barn is 7-11 Dec (Mon-Fri) C&G Level 1 Second award – Photo Albums and Slip Cases (Unit 119)

For further information on future BBV courses  please see elsewhere on this website or contact us on [email protected]