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After 5 years I get to return to my beloved ancient Rome through these bindings of Robert Graves’ books I, Claudius and Claudius the God.

The idea behind these bindings was to go for something simple and classic. Although in theory this should have been easy I struggled a lot coming up with a decoration. Perhaps the lockdowns (dear future reader: this was the year of the Covid pandemic) finally took their toll on my inspiration!

The decoration on the covers was designed by Marianna Koutsipetsidi, who has aided me time and again with her valuable skills, using historical artwork from that era (frescoes and mosaics) as reference. It depicts an eagle holding a wolf pup, an omen within the story of things to come.

The leather I used for the bindings has a deep grain which is very beautiful but made tracing the design very difficult. I commissioned a stamping plate to assist me in that regard: I carefully damped the covers and pressed it until it left a clear impression. I then proceeded to blind tool the whole design by hand.

I’m particularly happy with the printed marbled paper I used for the clamshell boxes which looks very similar to actual marble, for that extra ancient Rome touch.

The titles were tooled in genuine 24 carat gold leaf and the endbands were handsewn with silk thread.

When it comes to the book spines I drew inspiration from early 16th century bindings, which were most often blind tooled rather than gold tooled and many of them had rather simple decorations on them, most often linear in nature. There’s also a “roughness” to their decoration.
I tried to capture a bit of that aesthetic to allow the bindings to look “dated/old” while being new.

These historical bindings also lack titles in most cases, I suppose because metal type was still in its first decades and not as readily available. For what is more I couldn’t find a way to properly fit the title to the spines of the bindings in a way that would look nice.
So, in the end I decided to tool the titles on the spines of the book cases.

Last but not least, I used my Bookbinding Stylus Set to tool the covers decoration and the pillar on the case spines, as well as my Versatile Typeholder to tool the titles.