J@J Sobotovy


CZ Apprentice Program

Jan and Jarmila Sobota offer Apprentice Learning Program in their studio for bookbinders of all skill levels.

Date: 2008 workshops: from June 2 to June 13 2008

Cost of Course
US $ 800 for one week,
US $1200 for two weeks
US $2000 for one month

Payment is due in cash after arrival.  

Course description:

Bookbinding study description:
The student can work on whatever bookbinding skill he or she wishes to learn. We can provide instruction for beginning as well as advanced binders. A bookbinding study program can last from one week up to several months. The length is up to the student. We suggest at least two weeks for beginners or for learning the more time-consuming structures.

The student works with us in our studio for eight (8) hours per day, five (5) days per week. Our time is divided between working on our own projects and helping the student. This gives the student a chance not only to work on his or her own skills but also to observe the day-to-day work of experienced binders. The study program can range from simple tasks to the most challenging ones, including different binding structures, boxes, decorating techniques (such as onlay, inlay, relief, gold and blind tooling, gilding or painting edges, leather cuir-cisele, etc.). Binding structures include historical bindings, simple structures, German and French structures as well as simple or more demanding contemporary structures. Jan Sobota’s newest invention of three or two board structure, which is becoming very popular, is included. The more advanced binders can be taught box or sculptural bindings.

All materials included, except leather. Each student should bring a disassembled book and sufficient leather for binding it. We have available for purchase, leather and paper to make a blank book, if desired. If you are unsure about the type of leather needed for historic bindings, we suggest you buy it at our studio.

The following describes some of the bookbinding skills you can learn:  

Jan Sobota's Three Coverboard Structure
Recently, a new trend in bookbinding has evolved based upon the experience of restorers with old and new bindings. They have found, that some old, historic bindings that were bound without the creation on shoulders along the spine edge of the text block to accommodate the book boards, lasted longer than newer books bound using the shoulder technique. Several prominent binders from various countries are researching new bookbinding techniques and are using a new binding technique witch combines historic techniques and modem trends. Many types of structures and designs can be created without using the shoulder technique. Aesthetically, there is not much difference between bindings using the shoulder technique (ie. French and German bindings) and bindings without shoulders and later have been found to be more durable. We have developed a new technique, which we call "Two or Three coverboard Structure" which utilizes a new binding technique without shoulders. This method is accomplished by modifying the boards to the text block. (Boards used for doublures are covered with leather first, than second, event. third board is applied and covered with leather). It is possible to create very interesting designs using this particular structure.
Students can complete one binding in one week, utilizing the "Two or Three Board Structures" method.

Boxbinding structure
This technique comes originally from the Middle Ages. Its advantages are great, especially in protecting a book in its edges. Really unusual and interesting designs can be created.
Leather. Leather Cuir-Cisele was used in bookbinding in 15 century. It is not difficult to learn and it is very enjoyable to do. Really beautiful designs can be created by using this technique.  


There are several hotels and pensions in Loket. Hotels are more comfortable and also more expensive. Pensions cost about $90.00 per week. Food is very inexpensive and even if you ate out every day, the cost per day would be around $5.00 for three meals. For example, you can eat at the bakery for breakfast, make a sandwich for lunch and eat out for dinner. Our kitchen is also available to students for cooking. Spouses are also welcome and will have no trouble keeping occupied while the student is in class.


Loket is a beautiful small medieval town, surrounded by forested hills and a river with the castle started in the 13th Century in the middle of town. There are many interesting towns in the surrounding area such as Karlovy Vary, Marianske Lazne and there are also many health spas with mineral hot springs.

Field trips

There will be organized field trips to Prague or other interesting places during weekends for students desiring to see more of the Czech Republic. There are a variety of sights available from castles and monasteries to libraries. Charges for such trips will include gasoline or bus fare, hotels, meals and tickets to events or sites. The cost for these items is less then in the US and many other countries.


Please E-mail or write with the dates you would like to be here and the course you would like to take. Please, indicate any dietary or health restrictions. Also, please, include a short statement about your bookbinding experience and interests.