Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme
The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship, which began in Autumn 2016, is the only bindery apprenticeship available in the UK and the first since the 1970s. Apprentices will gain unparalleled experience working in the Royal Bindery at Windsor and external workshops, acquiring a broad range of bookbinding skills, including fine leather binding, edge-gilding and gold finishing, which may otherwise be lost for ever. City & Guilds qualifications will be received upon completion of the five-year training programme.
The scheme is supported by eight charity Founding Partners: Royal Collection Trust, Antiquarian Booksellers Association, City & Guilds of London Institute, The Clothworkers' Company, The Leathersellers' Company, The Printing Charity, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust and The Stationers' Company. In addition, there are three Skills & Industry Partners who will benefit from employing the apprentices and contribute to costs: The Royal Bindery, Blissett Bookbinders and Shepherds, Sangorski & Sutcliffe.
The past year, our first as Queen's Bindery Apprentices, has been a varied and expansive introduction to bookbinding. Looking back, we realise how far we have come and how much we have learned in a relatively short space of time.
Matt Stockl - learning to sew a bookblock
Ellie Lanham - learning to back a spine
Starting with basic instruction in the properties of materials and the use of tools, we have been allowed the time and resources to practise and repeat, to make mistakes and to learn from them, progressing from simple pamphlets to multi-section case bindings, albums, boxes, and more complex inboard binding and historical binding techniques.
Matt Stockl - quarter bound journal with bookcloth and marbled paper
Ellie Lanham - guarded photo album and slipcase
Matt Stockl - Coptic Style binding
Ellie Lanham - deconstructed Coptic style Binding
Our days are spent in an institution which cares for a large working collection, and we are fortunate to handle and observe many rare and beautiful objects, either preparing them for display and photography or watching and learning (and helping where we can) as our colleagues in the bindery perform the necessary conservation. It's an amazing insight into a unique environment and a rare opportunity to learn conservation, restoration and the historical context of bookbinding practices from experts in these fields.
A workshop in knife sharpening with visiting tutor, Royston Haward
As the apprenticeship progresses and diversifies, we look forward to exploring new techniques, structures and areas of interest in bookbinding, while continuing to hone the skills we have developed so far. We will have increased opportunity to shape the course to our own interests with options to research and investigate various topics within the craft as a whole, whilst continuing to work our way through the City & Guilds framework. We will begin our external placements, giving us an insight into working practices within different commercial binderies and institutions. As the two new apprentices join the bindery we will have the opportunity to help in their instruction and pass on what we have learned so far, solidifying through explanation the knowledge we have gained this year.