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Read here for Part 2
Read here for Part 3

Christina P. approached me some months ago with an interesting commission in mind; she and two other people are researchers of a Dutch university and they have been involved in a project regarding criminal laws. The idea was to bind the book each researcher has written during the project.

Mens Rea 1 - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerBindings of legal content are usually expected to be uninteresting – bound in dull colors and maybe tooled with a small amount of classic decorative motifs, right? Christina, quite the daring spirit, wanted something more design-oriented and so I suggested that we make three design bindings, different from each other but with a unifying theme related to the books’ content. Something that would perhaps be unexpected and -maybe- even thought provoking.

Mens Rea 2 - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerThe way I perceive it Laws are an artificial construct of the human mind, a structure that uses axioms and values (whichever those may be) as building blocks and establishes its integrity by the connections/correlations each block has with the rest. A structure that obeys and fuctions through certain rules, thus becoming their proof and projection. There is another thing that works in a similar way; Mathematics. The Wikipedia definition is “Mathematics is the body of knowledge justified by deductive reasoning about abstract structures, starting from axioms and definitions”. What could be more abstract than the concepts of right, wrong and Justice? And is not the strive of the human society to produce a system of laws an effort to somehow “quantify” those concepts by using axioms as a base? I believe that, although there’s room for debate here, the analogy is more than obvious.

Mens Rea 4 - Dimitri's Bookbinding cornerEnough pondering though, time for work! Because ideas are great and all but as a craftsman you have to translate all that into something tangible.
The first book is Mens Rea by JΒ. Mens Rea is Latin for “guilty mind” which -again according to Wikipedia- is viewed by criminal law as one of the necessary elements in various crimes.
In order to utilize this as a base for the binding’s design I tried to tackle it on a more abstract level – what would the mind of a criminal look like? I remembered pictures I’ve seen showing the chaotic trajectories of particles and thought it as the ideal representation of the criminal mind. A single thought starts from a point in emptiness until, after expanding enough, it bursts into a thousand different ones that move on unpredictably, a chain reaction. One could say that inspiration and creativity could be described by the very same process, isn’t that ironic?
You can argue that this is actually Physics and not Mathematics, but I tink there’s a certain amount of overlap – you can’t do Physics without using Mathematics. I used particles and their trajectories as a portrayal of quantifiable aspects, kinda like fractals.

particles 2aaIn any case I used this image to create the design. The end result was a case binding with hand-dyed green leather and hand-dyed yellow leather as onlays. Onlays are made by thinning leather to almost paper thickness and then carefully pasting it down. There are a lot of different onlay techniques and many ways to perform them.
The endpapers are paste papers from Decopapers. The binding also features double colored french headbands which were hand-sewn. I sewed the yellow parts gradually wider to make a correlation with the design, hinting at the expanding thought which eventually leads to crime.

The blind tooling was performed using my Stylus set, although I did certain parts with the assisantance of a pyrography tool – mainly the end of the small spirals due to their irregularity which prevented me from using gouges. I also used my Versatile typeholder for the lettering.

The second book will follow in the near future, until then cheers!

Mens Rea 3 - Dimitri's Bookbinding corner