Practical Leather Conservation Course for Historic Leather (14-Feb to 17-Feb 2023)

27th August 2022

Practical Leather Conservation Course for Historic Leather.

Tutor: Theo Sturge ACR


This course is intended for experienced conservators/restorers and students of conservation. A considerable knowledge of conservation is assumed. It is not intended for those without prior experience.

An introductory course to some of the techniques more commonly used in leather conservation. The course will include theory and practical experimentation. The course will aim to provide participants with a range of techniques for use on a wide variety of leather artefacts.  In this course, the student will gain PRACTICAL skills in the conservation of historic leather.  In addition to learning the different types of ‘leather’ the student will learn about how to restore the colour to leather, to make small repairs, how to gild leather and many other practical skills.  The details of the four day course are provided next.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Methods of repair, including the choice of repair materials and adhesives, with hints and tips on getting the best results. Repair materials including leather and woven and non-woven fabrics will be considered.
  • Gap filling with Beva 371, leather, Japanese tissue paper etc.
  • Surface finishes and dressings.
  • Cleaning.
  • Humidification to allow reshaping.
  • Dying leather and toning in areas of damage to match the surrounding colour.
  • Leather working techniques. To include skiving with an English knife, basic saddle stitching with two needles, and skived joints.

Make a piece of gilt leather.

The following is an outline of the programme.

Day one. Tuesday Morning

  • Introductions.
  • Case study.
  • What goes wrong with leather.
  • Leather as a material. Some basic properties which can affect its use in conservation.
  • What is gilt leather?


Introduction to practical exercises. The leather working skills – sewing and skiving – are not programmed for a specific time but can be fitted in when you have a little spare time.

Practical session:

  • Start making your gilt leather by applying silver leaf.
  • Make Beva 371 filler.
  • Prepare Beva 371 on Reemay.
  • Prepare Lascaux dispersions on Reemay for solvent reactivation tomorrow.
  • Look at the identification of leather samples.

Day two. Wednesday Morning

  • Case studies
  • Adhesives used for leather.


  • Mould your gilt leather or decorate with punches.
  • Try different adhesives and repair materials. Adhesives include: Lascaux acrylic dispersions, Evacon-R, Beva Film, solid Beva 371 and starch paste. Also, solvent reactivation. Repair materials include: Leather, Reemay, Japanese paper and silk.

Day three. Thursday Morning

  • Case studies
  • Repair materials. Colouring leather. Gap filling.


  • Finish adhesive trials from yesterday.
  • Dying / colouring leather.
  • Varnish your gilt leather.
  • Gap filling with solid Beva 371 – including Russia leather and a hole in crocodile.

Day 4. Friday Morning

  • Case studies.
  • Cleaning.
  • Humidification and reshaping.
  • Consolidation.
  • Treatment of red rot.
  • Finishing leather – dressings, in-painting etc.


  • Repair a hole in a piece of damaged, coloured leather and reinstate the lost colour using two different methods. Insert an inlay if wished and time available.
  • Repair a split in some sheepskin as might be found on a flying jacket.
  • Optional: Strip line your gilt leather for mounting on a frame.
  • Optional: Paint your gilt leather if time allows.

Note: a sandwich lunch is provided to all students.

Tutor: Theo Sturge ACR FIIC. Theo is the UKs most experienced practising leather conservator. In 2000 he established the Sturge Conservation Studio which specialises in historic leather. He teaches internationally. 0044 (0) 1604 717929.


From Tues 14-Feb to 17-Feb 2023, from 9:30 – 16:30



  • Full price – £440.00 per person
  • Icon Member – £415.00 per person
  • Deposit – £200.00 per person

We will accept a deposit to hold the spot. The full fee must be paid at the start of the class.

Please fill in the form and click ‘Proceed’ to book your place on the course.

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Wood Block Printing with Simon Clements – Autumn 2022

2nd July 2022

Using traditional carving tools and a wooden spoon learn to carve and print from your own wooden print block

A short woodblock printing course introducing students to carving wooden printing blocks. Although this is a very ancient way of producing prints it has largely fallen out of favour with the availability of new materials such as lino which are easier to cut and are much more stable. This course aims to teach students how to carve low relief images for printing, in various types of wood and how to creatively exploit the surface texture, grain and imperfections of the wood to develope those printed images.


1. Designing and cutting the first test block:

Prepare your wooden printing block, then draw up  your test design on paper before being shown how to transfer it to a prepared wood surface. Using a traditional lino/ block printing v tool you will be shown how to carve out your design to create black printed lines. Using the same v tool you will be shown how to create mid tone ‘colour’ using cross hatching techniques. Then using a shallow gouge you will be shown how to remove waste material to produce white areas on the finished print.


  • Preparing your timber
  • learn to draw your design for printing.
  • learn how to transfer your drawing from paper to timber
  • learn how to use woodblock printing chisels and gouges
  • learn about negative and positive printing, black and white.
  • Experiment with grey and mid tone colour using cross hatching with a v tool.


2. Printing your block:

students will then be introduced to the ‘wooden spoon Barren’ and be shown how to prepare it for use on the printing paper. Using a hard rubber print roller and water based printing ink students will be shown how to roller ink onto a block. Students are then shown how a printing frame holds the block and how to lay printing paper over the block (registering). Students will print the image by using the spoon Barren to rub over the paper with an even firm pressure

Prints will then be lifted from the block.


  • Preparing a wooden spoon Barren for use.
  • Preparing printing ink for the roller.
  • Fixing the block in place in the printing frame.
  • Fixing and registering the printing paper.
  • Using the barren to make a print.


Program of work:

Day one: Drawing for prints: A drawing exercise to explain how prints work the drawing will be the subject of the first carving
Day two: Cutting your image into the wood: using the bench hook to hold the carving, using v tools and gouges
Day three: Registering paper and fixing printing block, inking and printing Artists proof and finished print
Day four: drawing your own print block experimenting with wood texture and grain developing your own print and working on own ideas


Class Dates:

Oct ( Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)


Class Times: All classes start at 9:30 and end at 16:30

Price: £250 (Deposit: £100)

Please note:  no refunds will be given if canceled 2 weeks or less before the class are scheduled to start.

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