In Penang, bookbinding for everyone


Back in May, I conducted two adult and two kids bookbinding classes in Penang, Malaysia.

Here is a long overdue retrospective post.

Bookbinding workshops in Penang

Bookbinding workshops in Penang? Why not!

The owners of Constant Gardener Coffee had come up with the idea and offered a corner of their café as workshop space.

The location was great — facing the Esplanade in George Town, on the edge of Little India.

The café was located in the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Building, a row of tastefully-restored, canary-coloured colonial-era shophouses on Light Street.


And I couldn’t have asked for a better environment — peaceful and comfortable, with delightful whiffs of great coffee.

The complimentary cup at the end of class is a nice treat.

So over two weekends, it was kids on Saturday mornings, adults on Sunday mornings.



Bookbinding workshops in Penang by Bukurama: I decided to do creative stab binding and French link binding for the adult class.


I brought along a few of my favourite papers from India and Japan so that everyone get to use hard-to-get and beautiful materials.

Why, it’s a special occassion!

Children’s bookbinding workshop 1: Flag book

The workshop series kicked off with something bright and cheery — the rainbow flagbook for kids.

I had worked out the details and prepared the materials accordingly.

So that it’s easy for even a kid to follow.


Candy colour crush!


One for the album.


Children’s bookbinding workshop 2: Accordian book

A week later, the kids made a hardcover accordian book.

When they are done making their books, I told them to decorate the books whichever way they want — drawing, pasting, combining cut-outs and doodles.

It was wonderful to watch how each child deal with an open-ended exercise!


There is no right or wrong – so you might as well do something imaginative!


There is a story behind this work-in-progress.


New ideas emerging.


Careful and considered.

Adult workshop 1: Creative stab binding

Stab-binding is a great way to learn bookbinding, but I wanted the adults to try a slightly more complex stitching pattern — I called it “Twin Peaks”.

This pattern gives participants a much better feel for the stitching action.

The books are hardcovered — better to show off the special papers.

I was thrilled with the results. Look at this:


Same technique, different designs.


Good as gold.


A floral garden in ivory coloured paper from India.


Adult workshop 2: French link

A week later, we did an exposed-spine “French link binding” with a ribbon long enough to wrap-around the book.

Again, the participants got to choose the paper, and match it with thread and ribbons of their choice to create their unique books.

The satin duotone ribbons with their subtle shades — got them in Chinatown in Singapore — worked well with the threadwork.


I made a sample with a grey Indian paper with iridescent floral patterns and aqua duotone ribbon.



A hive of activity.


Both a science and an art — but bookbinding is definitely doable for all.



A different way to do the same thing.


Lovely combination with this pine needle Japanese paper.


Handmade is nice!

The workshops were certainly a lot of fun – and I hope to see everyone again!

I am thinking: What would make a good follow-up?

Stay tuned!





2 thoughts on “In Penang, bookbinding for everyone

  1. Both Rima and myself were thrilled to receive news from, thanks much.

    Everything your shared looks exciting, wish we were there with you, participating.

    Rima Pereira and Marianne Pereira

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