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Three weeks ago I was called upon a quest; to make a special fantasy style journal… Quest complete, xp gained, level up!

Spellbook - LolthΔερματόδετο σημειωματάριο τύπου περαστό με δέρμα βαμμένο στο χέρι. Χαρτί Mineralis May 90grs. Κεφαλάρια χειροποίητα με μεταξωτή λωστή. Διακόσμηση με δερμάτινα επιθέματα και ασήμι 1000. Λίθοι Γρανάτη στα 8 χιλιοστά.

Headbands - margins 1Mister A. contacted me and said he wanted to make a special gift, a journal that would have a dark and mystical feeling about it. From the images he sent me as pointers my imagination was caught by Lolth, an evil goddess of the dark elves which is half human half spider. Most of the fantasy journals I bump onto are usually predictable- spam some pentalphas and Celtic motives on it and you’re good to go. I suggested to make something a bit classier but not without the extravaganza this style is noted for. Although much more expensive than originally agreed my client told me to go for it.

Preparation for spine1I made some serious estimations before I started and… I was wrong in all of them! This journal had 3 times the work I anticipated and its sheer cost (materials- other expenses) reached 100 euros.
Starting with the paper I opted for Mineralis May which has a handmade look to it, feels “soft” and pulpy and performs well with pen ink. I hand painted the leather and saw the headbands with silk thread. I also made sewn in leather joints. As soon as the binding was forwarded (->most of the structural work) I started the preparations for the massive decoration that was on the plan.

Part of the decoration was the runes included in the framework (bottom of the post for reading instructions), that was pretty straight forward. For the webs I used pure (1000) silver leafs. Since most of the lines are small or curve quite a bit I couldn’t use a roller, they had to be gilded inch by inch using a stylus (oh the horrible neck pain…!). In fact ALL decoration was achieved with just the stylus set. The figure of Lolth however was the trickiest and most time consuming of all. I’ve made a picture where you can see 6 of the 8 steps involved in onlay work. The 7th is adhering the onlays and the 8th, which can be omitted if a different type of result is desired, is to finally blind tool on top once more to equalize the onlays to the leather’s surface and refine their shape. Jana Pullman is a master in onlays and has detailed posts with images on the process.

Process steps 1GranatesLast but not least I felt adventurous and wanted to have a go at some semiprecious stones, it is after all expected from a self respecting fantasy journal… They were 8 small Granate stones but I felt like frickin Sangorski and Sutcliffe! Gems are awesome- period.
Applying them was tricky. I didn’t trust the sockets to stay in place because even with strong epoxy the board layer beneath them can always tear off under pressure so I devised a way to ensure their rigidness till kingdom come. A circular piece of very thin brass was welded at the bottom of each socket much like a tea cup and its coaster. That enlarged the adhering area but the main reason I did it was because I needed to be able to “keep the sockets down”. I removed the leather at the corners so the stones would not just sit on the cover, that wouldn’t look nice, but rather be sunk beneath and protrude from it. After gluing the sockets I covered them with inlays. Now the stones were held in place both from the top and the bottom. Mission accomplished, cheers!

PS- For all you lovable geeks who just HAVE to know what the runes say you can decipher them using the Drow alphabet. The reading goes from back to front cover and you start at the lower left corner of each going clockwise, the sentences at the bottom are both upside down because of that. The dots signify the end of each verse.

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