It must have been a year back when I was in a big central bookshop looking around and my eyes got pinned at a certain book spine dominated by the words “Waste Land”. The actual title was “T.S. Eliot The Waste Land a facsimile and transcript of the original drafts”, but all I could see was “Wasteland”. This word has always held a sway over me and its meaning, the diverse and complex idea of what a wasteland is both literally and metaphorically, has perplexed my mind for as long as I can remember myself. So at the instant I felt it was somewhat of a calling, I had to bind this.
The book was soon after laying unbound at a desk in my workspace but as other more pressing matters kept piling on the schedule months passed with Eliot waiting stoically for his turn. During that time I would read poems from the book every now and then and that’s when the concept of the final design struck me. The initial thought was a much more classic design, I wanted to try a new decorative motive for quite a while and it sounded nice for the Wasteland. But after reading a specific poem a completely different idea started to form; the idea of a tree blossoming letters and words that wither and fly away as the land becomes barren.
I wanted everything to be special so it took quite a while for the binding to reach completion since the beginning of work.
The color of the binding had to be subtle and fitting but most importantly it had to be colors rather than color. I’m not much of a painter so I remembered the amazing results that can be achieved using an airbrush, especially the blending of the colors used, and I gave it a go. I was not disappointed. A multitoned surface was produced ranging within the spectrum of autumn colors.
The earth cracks, wind and tree branches were achieved using extensive blind tooling and 15 leather onlays form the tree. The doublures and endpapers are made with a remarkable handmade Nepalese waxed paper (you can make a junkie out of its smell by the way, it’s almost like a scent candle once you open the book). Headband and endband are handmade of silk thread. The letters were tooled using 22 carat gold.
Last but not least I believe the title should play an integral role in a design binding (I’ll be coming back with a post devoted partially to this matter). That’s why I choose to make it a key part of the design whenever I have the chance. It’s not just there to convey information, it’s not just a sum up. It’s there to puzzle and intrigue, to remind and provoke, to make us feel. It’s the book reaching out to call us. Inviting us to its story. That was my purpose in creating this binding the way I did. To extend that calling and invitation.
Note that all the decoration was done using my stylus tool set and a single typeholder that will be soon made available.
Till next time!