In other news, I finished with the graduation business, went to Sheffield, saw artist books and cheap steel, and as a belated Sheffield related gift got myself this, finally (it’s been one of my favourite albums for quite a long time). I decided not to make new sketchbooks or anything for the holiday season, but to relax instead. And in the meantime also do some heavy duty commissioned customer work, as always. Besides that, the next weeks will involve lots of tea and glög drinking and perhaps seeing some films too.
The Buccaneers of America (A. O. Exquemelin)
One of my final works for the Specialist Degree, a full leather binding covered with mid-brown Harmatan goatskin. This is the Folio Society edition which has lots of lovely illustrations, featuring the infamous French pirate Francois l’Olonnais and many others. This book is not mine but belongs to someone I like a lot. It is printed on wonderful laid paper but wasn’t originally rare or even very expensive, so I did not hesitate to mutilate this copy.
The finished binding has a painted map design on its cover, with lines tooled in black ink. I might want to add that my representation of the Bahama Islands might not be the most accurate one.. The hand-gilt dotted lines represent shipping routes to and from “Old Spain”. Gilt top edge, simple handsewn silk headbands, beige Hahnemühle Ingres endpapers and so forth. The paper doublures were attached on the morning of the d-day, which means I could have done a neater job with them.
The book is lodged in a (somewhat hastily finished) chemise and slipcase combination. The chemise is made of black leather and brown cardstock, with shortened title gilt on the back. The slipcase itself is covered with same cardstock and lined with black Ingres. The sides of it feature two map plates made out of the old flyleaves. These flyleaves also were my initial inspiration for the simplified map design on the cover.
Ei enää ihminen - Dazai Osamu
A full cloth binding in gray buckram, with stenciled portrait of the author on the cover. Title pressed on the spine with red foil, in four parts, because there wasn’t enough of this type for the full title.. talk about things getting unnecessarily difficult. The book has black parchment-like endpapers and handsewn headbands with black and some red silk.
This is going to be one of my diploma works, but I’m still thinking of re-making the cover because there are a few details I’m not satisfied with. Dazai as a literary figure has been very dear to me for longer than I can remember, and I find his writing warm, humane and honest. I would at least like to make a good binding out of this.
I must confess I have a complicated relationship with paper.
The reason why I often choose to use a bit more expensive paper for my works (besides its obvious versatility in sketchbook use) is that I am not a big paper-lover. This is a very valid reason, but most likely needs a little explanatory paragraph.
It’s very difficult to get me excited about paper or paper products. Which is amusing, considering that I ended up being a bookbinder. More often than not I tend to find paper ugly, boring or at least somehow uncomfortable to handle ("I think jackets are ugly, trousers are ugly, and shirts are fussy" - Jeremy Irons). In my own, seemingly irrational way I’m very particular about paper. Thicker, laid papers add more depth to the work but they also feel a thousand times better to work with. These days I put quite a lot of effort in finding the right kind of paper for my work. Sometimes I succeed. The otherwise so dull and tedious task of folding and cutting and handling boring sheets of immensely boring, stupid, crumpling paper then becomes a zen-like delight. Some papers just don’t feel good. Many don’t look good either.
I’ve noticed that I have shuffled towards making more and more books with torn edges and rougher look. Part of this is because I hate sanding too, and with fine bindings and their edge treatments there is almost always some sanding involved. But I try to avoid excess, which means I don’t wish to create just lumps that are covered with lumps of other material. Instead, I am contemplating. On method and material, and so forth.
Even though it might not appear so to the outer world, autumn for me has been a season of interesting inner dialogue and quiet contemplation. Here ends my little creative update that I managed in the middle of everything. Have a good end of the week!