Don Quixote bindings – Βιβλιοδεσίες για το Δον Κιχώτη

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This is the last commission for 2014; Two full leather design bindings of Don Quixote.

Don Quixote Volumes 1 and 2 - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerΔον Κιχώτης από τις εκδόσεις Εξάντας. Καλλιτεχνικές βιβλιοδεσίες όλο δέρμα βαμμένο στο χέρι και με αερογράφο. Χειροποίητα εσώφυλλα και κεφαλάρια ραμμένα στο χέρι με μεταξωτή κλωστή. Διακόσμηση στο χέρι βασισμένη σε σχέδια του Νταλί.

Miss R -the client behind this commission- was very interested in the binding process and we discussed about the various details that lead to the creation of a bound book. At the end it was agreed to make two case bindings but spiced up a bit with some of the elements usually found in fine french leather bindings.

Don Quixote Green covers - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerDon Quixote Spines - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerThere was a lot of thought devoted to the visual outcome. Miss R. liked my binding of Eliot and its color palette, however I prefer to avoid replicating bindings I’ve made in the past so I proposed this design to satisfy my client but also give the books a unique identity, aiming at a special aesthetic result when the two volumes sit on a shelf.

The decoration was a major issue. This Greek edition (now out of print) is, apart from very thorough, full of Dali’s sketches and paintings about the story of Don Quixote. I pondered on what should the covers look like and finally decided it would be futile to try and compete with Dali by making a design of my own, whatever that may be. So the most obvious and reasonable approach was to give Dali the spotlight by reproducing some of his sketches.

Don Quixote Endleaves - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerThe leather had to be dyed in 3 separate stages. First I dyed the green sides because even if I did some slight mistake later it wouldn’t show on the much darker green. Everything went smoothly in the end but hey, better safe than sorry right? Then I dyed the other half of each leather with a light yellow to use as a base color for the airbrushing. When this dried I covered the leathers and brought out my trusty airbrush. I’ve posted a picture of before and (almost) after for you to get an idea. Airbrushing leather is great fun and opens a world of coloring possibilities and techniques. I’ve only tried it a few times and must definitely find time to do some serious/crazy experimenting!

Airbrushing leatherOnly downside is that when you use an airbrush the dyes don’t really penetrate the leather, instead they just “sit” on the surface, so a thorough coating with a sealer afterwards is a must.

Don Quixote Headband - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerTo give the books a bit of a luxurious touch I sewed headbands with silk thread and used handmade marble paper for the endleaves. I also did some simple tooling on the leather headcaps and my-oh-my it does add character!

To create this binding I used my Stylus set, my Bookbinding Finishing Multitool and my Versatile typeholder.

Lots of work but it has been a pleasure binding these two volumes, quite happy with the result. Hope you liked them as well!

With this post I’d like to wish everyone Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year!

Don Quixote Flat - Dimitri's Bookbinding corner

Ode to simplicity – Ωδή στην απλότητα

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Joseph ZaehnsdorfBy Joseph Zaehnsdorf.

Για να διαβάσετε το άρθρο στα ελληνικά (to read in Greek) πηγαίνετε στο τέλος της ανάρτησης.

We are accustomed, even addicted one could say, to being impressed. A great deal of the things surrounding us are designed to be eye-catching. If they aren’t our mind ignores them and doesn’t progress in further observation, probably rightfully so since we are always bombarded by tons of information.

Samuel Ellenport created 1998By Samuel Ellenport.

In order to be eye-catching a visual stimulus usually includes a plethora of colors, geometrical shapes that are easily recognized subconsciously (the human brain constantly searches for standard patterns), depth through different layers and generally a multitude of information on many levels. All these combined create an overwhelming sense that registers the stimulus as interesting and pleasing.

By Devid EsslemontBy David Esslemont.

However, the bindings of this post aspire to please by appealing to the satisfaction granted by simple things; color, shape, texture. A singular vivid green, an intense grain that calls for our touch, simple lines and curves. Things we are drawn to by our very nature.

From Bauman Rare booksImage from Bauman Rare Books.

By focusing on those aspects bindings such as the ones you see here emit a kind of “honesty”, less is often more. Do not be deceived, the decorations of these bindings require exactly the same amount of skill needed for many of the lavishly adorned ones out there. Knowing so, a binder capable of producing an immaculate result may choose to prove it by opting for a minimalistic approach.

Of course there are also other reasons for doing so; the book’s content might call for such an approach, it might be the client’s preference, or it might be to show off the excellent quality of a material (leather, paper etc) or the beauty of a particular technique (calf marbling, special dyeing etc).

Binding by Kate HollandBy Kate Holland.

Although I can’t help but marvel when looking at the sumptuous creations of Sangorski and Sutcliffe (amongst my very favorites) I find something equally alluring in bindings such as the ones presented in this post. Because, while I consider astonishing being able to compose and accomplish a lavish design, I admire perhaps more the ability to arrest one’s feeling by strict simplicity. The skill of removing instead of adding, until only the bear essentials are left.

Of course I’m talking about cases where it was the artisan’s/artist’s intent to achieve simplicity, not when it is the outcome of lack of skill/experience or other restricting factors (unavailability of materials/equipment,  budget constraints, details dictated by the intended receiver etc).

I believe it is always beneficial to devote some effort in appreciating the simplicity of a creation, be it an art or an everyday object. There is a wholeness to be usually found there.

Douglas CockerellΓια το άρθρο στα ελληνικά:
Dimitri’s Bookbinding corner – Ωδή στην απλότητα

Binding on the right by Douglas Cockerell.

Small journals and Christmas giveaway!

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It’s not always “grand and glorious”, sometimes it’s all about small and simple!
I’ve been preparing, among other things, a number of travel-size journals. Most of them are made from hand-dyed leather and genuine marbled paper. Combining hardcover and longstitch techniques the result is a practical journal that is sturdy enough yet it can open completely flat.

All of them available at my Etsy Shop The Bookbinder’s Bench.

Small journals by Dimitri's Bookbinding corner 1Also, don’t forget to take part in my Christmas giveaway at the blog’s Facebook page. Who waits for that creepy stalker Santa Claus? I don’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice, everyone gets a chance to win a lovely journal just in time for Christmas!
All you have to do is Like and Share the corresponding post at FB and comment on the giveaway question! The winner will be chosen at random on the 25th of November. Good luck!

Small journals by Dimitri's Bookbinding corner 2Small journals by Dimitri's Bookbinding corner 3

Let’s talk about paring and knives

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Two lovely old ladies who used to do bookbinding as a hobby decided to give me what tools and materials they had left (thanks!). Among these was a french paring knife which, although quite plain, caught my attention.  Realizing my paring knives have amounted to 6 with this later addition I decided to make the knife post I’ve been thinking about for some time!

bevelled-leather by Juliayn Coleman1Juliayn Coleman testing a Peachey knife

 Firstly dear (non crafting) readers, allow me to explain why all craftsmen get fascinated with trade tools. It’s because they are our most prized possessions. As years come and go a craftsman might set up shop in a dozen different locations, he will work with materials of quality and others that are horrible, he’ll try countless techniques in his effort to evolve and become better. However, in the long course of an artisan’s life the point of reference, the one thing that stays more or less the same, will always be the tools of the trade. Tools are the extension of his hand, the means by which skill is transformed into something tangible day after day, until they become understood and loved. As the craftsman gets older so do his tools which, through continuous use, mastering and modifying, come to store and express his experience. He knows how each of them behaves, what it needs to stay in good shape, in which task it performs best. In a sense they are not just tools, they are companions…
 This romanticized, but I believe true to its core, explanation should give you a good idea about why we usually make such a fuss about our tools! Just read what Sarah of Big jump press did to some poor bystanders when her eye spotted an old divider! We’re 100% with you Sarah, no regrets!

paring action by Jana PullmanSo, what the heck is paring and why is it so important that binders have to own so many different knives for it?
Paring is when a leather is thinned down by slicing away strips, as shown in the picture on the right by Jana Pullman. That can happen for various reasons, one of the most common in bookbinding being the gradual thinning of the margins on the cover piece to make the turn-ins smoother. Paring is a world on its own and one of the many skills a binder must master to produce fine work.

Paring can be done with the help of mechanical devices like the Scharf-fix or the Brockman which I happily own. These have a razor blade that can be set in various angles and when the leather is pulled beneath it long skivers are shaved off thus reducing its thickness. It is a fast and efficient way of paring but it still needs a great amount of control and there are certain issues/restrictions in its use.

Paring with a knife offers a tremendous amount of control leading to much more satisfying results. The leather doesn’t get outstretched and lose shape as is the case some times with paring machines. With careful and steady handling of the knife it is less likely to tear or slice through the leather. Also, a paring machine doesn’t adjust to changes in the behavior of the leather. Some parts may have bumps or imperfections, be stretchier or stiffer, very hard or very soft but you can only pull it through. With the knife you have the ability of adjusting pressure, angle and depth constantly during paring action. And last but not least there are parts that you simply can’t pare using a paring machine, like the spine for a french binding.

It is not difficult to understand why paring with a knife has stayed the same for so many centuries. However all these benefits come at a price; mastering how to knife-pare takes time and it is not the easiest thing in bookbinding. I remember it took me one year and a lot of wasted leathers to start producing decent results, at least according to my standards. I’ve reached a good level since then but paring is one of those things that you never stop learning. And there’s always a rewarding sense of accomplishment to be felt after a leather has been properly and smoothly pared (by the way, I’ve been told that all these sound creepy and psychotic when out of context…!). I now pare with knives in 90% of the cases and use the Brockman complimentary or when I need to make leather joints, labels or onlays.

Where can we read more?
-To be able to pare with a knife one needs to be familiar with its needs and uses. Creating a sharp edge and maintaining it is of paramount importance and requires skill on its own. Jeff Peachey is renowned for his paring knives and his knowledge on their treatment. He gives ample information on how to sharpen your knife effectively and keep it so by stropping.

- Jana Pullman, well known binder and instructor at the Center of Book Arts in Minnesota, writes about paring and knives here. “Besides, you can never have too many knives”, well said indeed!

MHR's custom Japanese steel paring knives-MHR of Bookbinder’s chronicle, always skilled and knowledgeable, also has a nice post regarding paring. Check the comments as well! Here’s a picture of her custom knives made from traditional Japanese steel. Want!

- Juliayn Coleman of Book Island gets some steel in shape for her students in this post.

- Roger Grech of Papercut Bindery gives a step by step description of the paring process in his post here.

V for books- Lundahl's custom paring knife-E. Lundahl of V for books shares in this post the details of making a DIY paring knife. Love the melt brass detail, gives the knife personality!

Last but not least, in a first ever and exclusive appearance, the ensemble of DK’s paring knives!

DK's paring knives ensembleFrom left to right;

1) English knife from Hewit and the first I ever had. Very affordable and performs quite well, I keep it a bit less sharp and use it as “heavy duty” nowadays.

2-3) An english and french knife from Schemdt. Some bookbinders had lend me two Schemdt knives in the past and I thought to order a pair for myself. First of all I must mention that I ordered two english knives apart from the french (one for a bookbinding friend) and they arrived with a very crude bevel, basic stock removal (it was evident from the marks) in angled fashion. That meant I had to go to a grinder shop, pay and indicate the angle I needed. Then there was a lot of hand sharpening needed to be done at the bindery. All these were a lot of trouble, more than I expect when I order such a tool, especially since its not a matter of modification but simply making it fit for work. In any case it performs well although it tends to lose sharpness a bit easily. I use it for regular work.

DK's custom english paring knife4) It is always very useful to be able to create basic tools for your craft and bookbinding is no exception to that rule.  Almost a year ago I came by a piece of industrial saw steel, which was of good quality according to 2 people I trust, and decided to give it a go. Not dissapointed! The result was an extremely sharp blade that keeps its edge and has exactly the dimensions I prefer. Its only downside is it being a bit temperamental when it comes to sharpening. I use it mainly for fine work.

5) The french knife I was given recently. It bears no maker’s mark. I had never worked with this type of paring knife before (the mix of straight and curved edge). I gave it just a slight resharpening and stropping and was astonished at how well it pared. I feel I’m gonna love working this type of edge and can’t wait to see its performance after a serious sharpening.

6) A leatherworking knife that I have used extensively in bookbinding as well. Used to be my substitute for a french knife and did its job excellently albeit its double bevel. The great width of the blade made its use uncomfortable at times but it made up for it by allowing to pare for much longer by using different parts of the curve until stropping or resharpening was needed.

That’s all folks, cheers!

Georges Simenon – The man who watched trains go by

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George SimenonA recent commission, “The man who watched trains go by” by Georges Simenon in Greek translation. Case binding with handmade leather endbands.

I had a somewhat restrictive timeframe for this binding which, along with some other reasons, led to this linear design with simple onlay work. To spice it up a bit I added a few details abstractly hinting at the story; the red onlays and the uneven rail lines are a loose metaphor on the main character’s alteration as the story progresses.

I’ve already written about my affiliation for quirky titles in previous posts. Since I was to tool a ridiculously long title on such a small sized book (hear that writers out there? Keep your titles short dammit!) I decided to incorporate it in the design. The leather was feeling a bit rebellious about that part but my typeholder had a different opinion. Well, guess who won…

The decoration of this binding was made using the Versatile typeholder, Bookbinding Finishing Multitool and line rollers.

Has anyone seen the film adaptation? Any good?

Facebook Page and Etsy shop

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Good news everyone!

Here’s two things that are long overdue;First, I’ve opened an etsy shop called The Bookbinder’s Bench, where you will find handmade bindings and tools. Spread the word!
One of the perks of buying tools from my Etsy shop is that I’ll be listing tools that are in stock and thus require a few to even zero days before they are shipped!

etsydSecond, Dimitri’s bookbinding corner has now a Facebook page! Stop by, like, share, follow and stay updated with both the blog and what becomes available at the etsy shop!

Dimitri's B.C.Byron 1To mark the occasion I’ve made 3 journals;
-The Byron, a luxurious antiqued journal
-The classic, a frugal french quarter leather binding
-The vintage, a case quarter binding
Enjoy!

 

The Yellow Emperor – Ο Κίτρινος Αυτοκράτορας

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According to tradition the Yellow Emperor (or Huang Ti) ruled China some 100 years between 2600 and 2500. He is considered the initiator of the Chinese civilization and an impressive list of technological, scientific and spiritual achievements is attributed to him. The book I’m sharing with you today is about the practice of Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine system which uses needles, in the form of a dialogue between the Yellow Emperor and his health minister.

The Yellow Emperor1Βιβλιοδεσία τύπου περαστό. Όλο δέρμα με κεφαλάρια ραμμένα στο χέρι με μεταξωτή κλωστή. Στο εσωτερικό τοποθετήθηκαν δερμάτινα λούκια και χειροποίητο διακοσμητικό χαρτί (μαρμαρόκολλα). Ο τίτλος σχεδιάστηκε στο χέρι με πένα ενώ για την πλακέτα χρησιμοποιήθηκαν τεχνικές inlaying και onlaying (ένθετα και επίθετα κομμάτια). Χρύσωμα στο χέρι.

Label - The Yellow EmperorFrom the beginning I knew this had to be a visually frugal binding to be in accord with the book’s philosophy. I also sew the headbands with silk thread to add some eastern spice to it. The label was hand-dyed and the ideograms where also hand-painted using a dip pen. The black margins are onlays and the label itself was inlayed.

I tried some Spanish leather which -for the most part- was pleasant to work with. It was very affordable, the color is lively with the veins still evident (I think they add some nice detail), it was thin and it pared well. What I didn’t like was the “stiffness” of the surface compared to its soft underside which proved a bit of a problem in turns-ins and corners. However, and to my surprise, the inner joints function smoothly even though I couldn’t pare them to the thickness I usually work with. Overall I’d give it a thumbs up.

The Yellow Emperor2Silk headbands - The yellow Emperor

Size matters! – Το μέγεθος μετράει!

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Notebook2(Για το άρθρο στα Ελληνικά πηγαίνετε στο τέλος του κειμένου)

See this binding? Looks fairly simple right? It is, only it ain’t…

Comparison2Take a look at the second photo, I placed an average sized book next to it so you can get an idea of its dimensions. As you can see the notebook is about 4 times bigger. Binding books of this size can be challenging and since commissions of the sort are not frequent I thought to make a post regarding some peculiarities one might come up with during the process.

Let me start with an anecdote first. I have had the luck to spent a year next to a great Greek binder. During one of the days at her bindery a chubby man dashed in and asked “how much?” pointing at the first binding he laid his eyes on. The binder mentioned a price and the man immediately showed a smaller one next to it and asked again. To his astonishment she replied with the same price. “But this one is smaller…” he said a bit annoyed. “Hmm… yes, you’re right…” she answered indifferently and then said a much higher price, which of course made him leave.

This small incident comes to mind often and I have been sharing it on occasion to underline that no matter the size we always apply the same techniques during the binding process. A bit bigger or a bit smaller doesn’t change a lot of things. When the book is very big or very small though the binding behaves differently and the binder must plan ahead and also find ways to overcome difficulties that may arise.

-Planing ahead
Upon accepting such a commission make sure your equipment can accommodate such a binding. It would be frustrating to find out your sewing frame isn’t large enough and probably start looking for a carpenter just after you have sawed the signatures. If you’re short on time you can always make do with a crude DIY wooden frame, as long as the threads are tight. Respectively, check your backing and finishing press, pressing boards etc.
Sewing-backing-spine layers-Use numerous sewing stations.
Above a certain size case bindings simply don’t cut it. The book’s mass will gradually detach the block from the boards. It is preferable to go for a french binding with laced in boards and saw for numerous sewing stations. The perfectionist me wanted 9 but practical me slapped him in the face and decided 7 was good enough in this case.
A book 4x times the size of an average book correspondingly leads to 4x time for the various binding stages; It usually takes me 20-40 mins to sew a book, this took an hour and a half. Sawing, backing, leather paring and dyeing afterwards were proportionally time consuming.

-Laminate your boards.
Boards warp because they absorb moisture when paper, leather or any kind of material is pasted on them. Large boards = lot of warp and thicker boards don’t really help to prevent this. The answer is laminated boards; Use 3 thin boards pasted together to accomplish the desired thickness. NOTE- the board in the middle must have its grain opposite to the other two, meaning horizontally.
I make laminated boards 80% of the time. I believe the trouble is worth it since they are much more resilient and I find them easier to work with.

-Choosing headbandsHeadband1
If you’re going to bind a very thick book and intend to make handsewn headbands think twice about the design/pattern. I remember having spent a day and a half sewing headbands for two volumes. A 1or2 colors simple headband with a bead on the edge might be a more practical choice than a 3colored double-core french headband or a chevron headband.

-The big cover up.
Finding a leather big enough can be a problem. I waited two weeks for some leathers to arrive and the larger hide among them was full of marks, alas I had no alternatives. I decided to do a bit of cheating; Since handling such a huge surface would be quite difficult and stressful I divided the cover in segments and cut the hide in 5 pieces. Made my life a LOT easier. I “masked” the meeting points by overlaying thin leather strips lined with tooling.

flat1-A pressing matter.
As mentioned earlier, make sure you have sizable pressing boards.
The nipping press is quite important; Large books are harder to press properly since the pressure diminishes outwards from the center. If your press can exert the needed force then no problem. However if it’s not strong enough you might be up for a nasty surprise along the way. Four-screw presses tend to exert pressure more uniformly across a surface but are also more troublesome to use. Make sure your press is up for the task or talk with a local binder to arrange use of press space during the crucial stages.

The binding weighs some 5+ kilos. There’s still the owner’s insigne to be tooled on it but it’s practically finished. Have to admit though, difficult as it may be binding such large books the feeling when handling it at the end is very rewarding.

Για το άρθρο στα Ελληνικά -> Το μέγεθος μετράει- Άρθρο βιβλιοδεσίας

Open2

An interesting find – Μιά ενδιαφέρουσα αγορά

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(Για να διαβάσετε το άθρο στα Ελληνικά πηγαίνετε στο τέλος του κειμένου).

Mr Stavros M. is a diligent amateur bookbinder and a frequent visitor of my studio. Apart from that however he’s also a keen searcher of anything related to bookbinding and always comes up with interesting findings! One of those was quite remarkable, a unique press he discovered at an antiquarian shop downtown…
Finishing press 4Update; Jeff Peachey notified that this is a woodworker’s press called “miter jack“. For once more it is very interesting to see how the same tools and equipment can serve different crafts. The design is in all aspects ideal for spine work to the very last detail.

The press has one cheek fixed in place and the second free to move on two rails. The single screw makes clamping and releasing books much faster than the double screw system while at the same time reducing the number of parts/points that undergo friction. In contrast with standard table finishing presses this leaves the cheeks practically unharmed from the wear brought by use, the screw is the only component that has some amount of wear and jerks slightly if left to rotate freely.
The cheeks themselves are also noteworthy. Some time ago I had to do a great deal of decoration for a commission and faced back, neck and arm pains. By chance I met a physiotherapist soon after and described to her what I do and the symptoms that usually follow. She advised me to find a way to have the bookspine always at an angle. While you can do that at some extent with the usual finishing press part of the spine is not accessible between the cheeks or the book is not held firmly since one has to clamp small part of it to have the spine all at hand and also at a big angle. Well, the cheeks of the press are cut at an angle thus allowing good clamping with the bookspine fully exposed and, most important, being able to work in a more upright posture. Excellent.
The press’s feet are equally noteworthy; They too are cut at an angle in the back, allowing the tilting of the press in an instant which brings the book in horizontal position without having to remove and reposition it. What more can a finisher ask for?Press before 3I gave the press to an excellent carpenter and woodworker, Antonis, for some minor restoration. He is the person making the handles for my tools- if it’s wood related Antonis is the man for the job! He took the press apart and replaced some cracked small parts that were not visible, as well as the wooden end the screw pressed against. The cheek faces were straightened, they curved in slightly, most likely from the clamping of books through the press’s long use. The rails were smoothed and oiled. Although we don’t know the press’s age it’s apparent it is quite old so Antonis decided against removing the patina.
 I noticed that the press tilted too easily, so the previous binder must have either worked with his bench against a wall and pulling the press when he desired to alter its angle, or had some wood block tucked under to prevent it from constantly tilting. I asked for Antonis to think of some form of convertible supports that would also prevent the press from tilting but could be easily pulled if Ι wanted to move the spine to a horizontal position. He came up with this clever design based on hinges and magnets, you can see its function at the photo sequence. An interesting note- Antonis used the same kind of wood for the added/replaced parts. Time has its (charming) way with materials…Convertible supportsBrass fixture1 Last but not least I did a small alteration; The screw pushed the moving cheek but didn’t pull it when rotated for release. The face of the screw end, which has certain marks on it, and the piece of wooden protrusion it pushed against allow me to assume that there was some kind of metallic component/s in place that made the cheek move in accord with the screw, much like in backing presses. I constructed and installed some brass components to make this possible again.
Now the press is finally ready to serve the craft for another lifetime, till its next owner…

Για το άρθρο στα Ελληνικά ανοίξτε το εξής αρχείο:
Μια ενδιαφέρουσα αγορά

From Within a Book

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In the silent aisle of that old bookshop lay a thousand stories waiting to be told. The books keep still, patiently filling the aisle’s emptiness with faint echos that become louder and clearer as one let his thoughts be led by them, and finally merge, until it seems as if you are breathing the stories themselves that arise from within a book…

From within a book- Emma TaylorEmma TaylorMeet Emma Taylor. Emma is a book sculptor. But she is not. You see, a book invites you in a story, a world. Emma however has the ability to do the very opposite; she invites the book’s story to our world by giving it form. Something between Geppetto and the blue fairy from Pinocchio. So, I firmly believe that behind the facade of a “book sculptor” Emma is actually a book wizard.

Supposedly a wizard never reveals his secrets. However I’ve managed, under the pretext of an interview, to trick Emma in sharing a thing or two about how she works her magic on books;

So, lets begin; How did you become a book sculptor? Call me predictable but hey, we don’t get to meet one everyday!
I saw images online of a series of book sculptures which were left anonymously in Edinburgh and just loved the concept, as you say you definitely don’t meet a book sculptor everyday or even see many images of book sculptures so it was really a bit of a revelation! I have always loved the smell and appearance of old books, so the possibility of making artwork out of them really excited me. I made the first one for a college project and uploaded an image of it to my blog ( link at the bottom ), I was astonished by the positive response and a few people had asked if I would be making anymore, so I did and as they say the rest is history!

Swan song - Emma TaylorTell us how you choose the books for your creations. Do you feel a “calling” from certain books, is it the idea of the sculpture that comes first, or is it something entirely different?
A bit of a mixture really. I like to match the book title to the theme of the piece, so often when I am perusing the many bookshops that I visit a book title will jump out at me and that will act as the starting point for the piece. In those cases I guess you could describe it as a “calling” from the book, it’s just whatever takes my fancy at the time. The books are always aged with discoloured pages, I love the off white colour and also I know it’s a cliche, but I do love the smell!

The knight and the dragon - Emma taylor

Dragon face - Emma TaylorLiving through an art or a craft is like an intense relationship; For example I love sewing headbands for my bindings and I absolutely loathe sanding book edges. Which is the least and most favorite part of making a sculpture according to you?
Well my favourite part would be adding all of the details, this is when the piece really seems to come together for me. My least favourite part would have to be adding the wadding to pad out the various forms. I dislike this part simply because it always seems to take much longer than I expect it to, also I finish the wadding and then have to go over all of the forms again covering up the wadding with strips of book pages.

The witches 3 - Emma TaylorYou are obviously a booklover. What does a book represent for you?
For me books represent stories and not just the ones that are written in them. Each book tells its own history and within that history is often many owners. Some owners who have treasured the book and added a slip of tissue paper to protect a particularly fragile page, others who have had a new set of crayons for Christmas and have tried them out by colouring in a few of the black and white illustrations and finally the giver and receiver named in the inscription inside the front cover.

Wind in the Willows 1 - Emma TaylorI am all for book arts and book sculpting in particular. However I’ve heard in discussions, more than once, that using books in this way is sacrilege. What would you say in regard to that perspective?
I will simply describe what happened when I bought a book from a market stall recently. The said book had its cover hanging off, so when I handed it to the owner of the stall he discreetly put the cover back into place; he was obviously very surprised by my choice and sheepishly asked for £1.50. I happily handed over the money as I saw potential in the book, where as he obviously considered it to be somewhat past its best. Although many people had obviously glanced at the damaged book and completely ignored it, I had chosen the book not for the purpose of reading it (as this may have been an issue because a few pages were missing) but to create a sculpture out of it, thereby giving it a new life as an object to be admired and once again appreciated.

Emma taylor 1Bear with me, we’re almost there! What are your thoughts and feelings during the making of a new piece?
I am always excited to start a new piece and intrigued to see what it will end up like, I do make a rough plan but I tend to deviate from this. However by the time I finish the piece it’s as though I can’t actually see what it looks like anymore. I think this is because I spend many, many hours working on each sculpture, so I tend to get absorbed in the piece and know every millimeter of it and so my image of the piece consists of all the different elements and everything that they have involved. After what I like to call my ‘cooling of period’ I can then see what it looks like and assess what I feel has worked and what hasn’t.

And last but not least; What would you like to achieve by creating all those wonderful sculptures? Is it art for the sake of art or are you trying to communicate something through your creations?
The first piece which I made focused on the decreasing demand for books as they are sadly being partly replaced by eReaders.  To me the possibility of the end of the book is a tragic one and so the continued aim of my work is to present the book as an object to be admired. I am simply presenting the book in a new light. Although people are no longer able to read the books I use, they are instead given a visual image to view. 

You can see more of Emma’s work at her blog http://fromwithinabook.tumblr.com/ and at facebook https://www.facebook.com/FromWithinaBook

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Black Beauty - Emma Taylor