Explore Independent Cambridge - Helen Handmade Books

Helen Perry

With the help of Independent Cambridge - the community of ‘real’ Cambridge - Cambridge Network continues its weekly exploration of the best independent shops, cafés, restaurants, people, businesses, venues and events in Cambridge and the surrounding area. This week: Helen Handmade Books.

If there’s one word that sums up what Helen Perry can do it is ‘alchemy’ – the magic of how to change basic elements into other, more wonderous substances. Taking the humblest objects like paper, cardboard and glue, and using a small number of tools, Helen has the skills to turn these into the most exquisite handmade books and now she is sharing her knowledge with others.

After a career in social work followed by a move in to adult education, Helen looked at ways to combine the elements of skill-sharing and teaching she enjoyed with her life-long passions for books, crafting and sewing. All these aspects came together for Helen when she went along to her first bookbinding course run by friend Edel Hopkin. The ‘magic’ of being able to actually make a book hit Helen and she moved to working alongside Edel and then finally, at the beginning of this year, taking on the business of running the courses herself. She’s also currently studying with Ben from Bookbinding Out of The Box to become only the second UK certified instructor – which just goes to show how a hobby has become a true passion.

Helen offers a range of courses and supplies all the necessary materials and tools. The courses currently take place at Stapleford Granary, Cambridge Artworks in Green’s Road, The Lodge Flower and Craft school in Hemingford Grey and arts and crafts shop Sew Much to Do in Ely. The core course – Beginning Bookbinding – consists of five, three-hour sessions over five weeks in which Helen gives a comprehensive introduction to the basics of bookbinding with her students learning how to make different styles including case bound, quarter bound, concertina and stab stitch books.

There are other courses covering other styles of binding from single-page loop binding to the beautiful Japanese-style album binding, and Helen also collaborates with local handmade marbled paper maker Kate Brett so you can learn how to do this too!

Helen Handmade Books



Discover unique boutiques and boutique hotels mingled with communities of artists and craftspeople. Sample an award-winning restaurant or thriving little café tucked away in a back street – all easy to locate via the comprehensive Independent Cambridge directory.  It features hundreds of local traders, artists, makers, producers, venues and events – all of which play a part in the real life of the city and local area. Run by long-term residents with a true passion for all things indie, the site is packed with valuable insider knowledge of the local scene. And whoever you are - resident or visitor; whatever you search for, read about and choose to visit, you can be sure it’s independent!

Look out for the latest edition of Independent Cambridge's magazine, The Indie, out now - or read it online here.


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