Workshop Review

Calligraphy Workshop (17 Sep 2016) – Contemporary Book of Hours

Tutor – Val Yost

We gathered around Val intrigued to know more about how to make a Contemporary Book of Hours, as well as a folded Shallow Square Box in which to fit the book.

The session began with Val explaining how to construct the book which was to be small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand, so that it can be easily carried along and looked at from time to time. Intriguingly, the book was constructed in a circle of eighteen 7 x 14 cm, sections. Initially, to the uninformed, the booklet looked very complicated to achieve. However, Val proved to be an excellent and patient tutor, with a very sympathetic approach to any dunces in the class like me! She gave us all a hand out with very clear instructions and diagrams. She then showed us how to stack the pages, with each one folded in half, number and mark at the top of each section. Several of us decided that we would like to construct the booklet with torn edges. Val showed us how to fold the paper section both ways, then to run a paint brush with water down a metal edge, then to cut into the fold using the blunt side of a scalpel and finally to carefully tear down the fold.


The next step was to stitch the sections together. Using a template, we had to pierce holes exactly along the folds. With 150 cms of linen thread (no shorter or longer, as this was exactly the length that was required), preferably waxed, we stitched the folds together in the manner of a Coptic-style binding. Val gave us a very useful tip which was to always tighten the thread in the directions of sewing in order not to rip the paper. All this had to be finished securely with a kettle thread.

Val advised us that it was best to add lettering, decorations etc., to the small sheets of paper prior to constructing the booklet. However, time did not permit this for all of us, particularly for those of us who were doing torn edges as this was more time consuming, so we borrowed Val’s excellent selection of stamps to add decorations of our choice once the booklet had been constructed.

By this stage, time was marching on and, once again, we gathered around Val to be shown how to achieve a folded Shallow Square Box in which to store the Contemporary Book of Hours, or in which to place small presents to be given at Christmas or Birthdays.

The day proved to be very fulfilling and enjoyable. Val was an excellent tutor, always very patient with clear and precise instructions. In my opinion, anyone aspiring to becoming a tutor could well take a leaf out of her book!

Anne Clarke