Saturday, July 29, 2017

Heroic Works - Designer Bookbinders International Competition 2017

Designer Bookbinders UK opened their 3rd international exhibit mid-July 2017 at the Bodleian Library, and I was pleased to be included.

The binding was of Ovid's "Metamorphoses", an edition from Shanty Bay Press, a good size plenty of room on the page in both english and greek, with some very nice photogravure work.

I printed the ends with oak leafs on sekishu tissue, the binding itself is a split board, three piece, bradel , or caped - binding - depending on who you talk to! There are a lot of different ways to describe essentially the same thing.

The boards are covered in sanded and airbrushed goatskin with matte foil tooling, suggestive of the pattern of an insect wing, with hints of gold leaf and turquoise onlays.

The exhibition goes to Birmingham, and later to St.Brides, before coming state-side to the North Bennett Street school in Boston.

Ive a number of new book projects and bindings to get stuck into so hopefully more technically challenging work to follow.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

COMING IN FROM THE COLD - Binding Exhibitions in 2013, 2014, and 2017

Since leaving the city in 2014, I have made a concerted effort to complete and send bindings to exhibitions for display and just for me.

Afterall, I never became a bookbinder because I enjoyed making case-bindings and boxes.

Opposite at the top is a binding of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" which won First prize in the Argentinian International binding competition in 2014 (EARA 2014).

Before leaving New York in 2013 I was very pleased to be invited to send a binding for the Designer Bookbinders anglo-american exhibit, which toured the UK and the USA.

The next 2 shots feature this binding, "Lens of Crystal", dyed goatskin , with monoprinted endpapers.

This year I was very gratified that my binding will be featured in the up-coming designer bookbinders international competition.

The theme of the exhibit is "myths and heroes",
so having sourced a beautifully printed copy of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" printed by Shanty Bay Press, binding was completed in september of last year.

The last 2 shots on the right show details of the front and inside, aswell as dyed skin, tooled onlays, and monoprinted doublures.

I will post more about it after opening night at the Bodleian library in Oxford, UK, July 17th this summer - fingers crossed!

Ive got a few more things in the pipeline, so will endeavour to document and post the progress of those.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

NOTES FROM THE WILDERNESS - Thomas Pynchon, and lettering in circle onlays

Since 2014 and before I have designed several covers for Thomas Pynchon titles  - always a fun prospect as a lot of his work is zany and yet rooted in a contemporary landscape, which means they can be quite fun.


Lots of Photo-transfer , lots of Pop images , lots of colour , lots of airbrushing - sometimes acryllic direct onto the skin.


Having done a lot of Photo-transfer on goatskin, I have yet to find a suitable and flexible enough technique that does not involve making photopolymer plates, printing presses, or xylene.

Using acryllic stiffens the skin, the image can crack, and it of course makes hand-lettering a problem.....


So, until i manage to sort that problem out - a short-term design solution has worked quite well - lettering in circle onlays 


More next week, including a look at some tradtional work completed in the last 2 years, aswell as some design binding. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

NOTES FROM THE WILDERNESS - sundry boxes and such

Throughout my years in relative seclusion the box project has trundled along with the persistence of a squeaky wheel.....with some good work , and the usual barrage of pen tooling, dye work, back pared onlays.

Ive included here some more highlights from the last 2 years, though there are more to follow.

Above was a fun day prepping a cover for Cormac Macarthy's "Blood Meridian" in 2014 - nothing like flicking red ink everywhere....

The tooling on the front board of  J.P.Doneleavey's "Ginger Man", in 2015, was - lets just say - a happy accident.

Had fun making pink eyes for James
Joyce's "dubliners - trippy

Simple line and dot tooling made a quick and effective design for Isaac Asimov's "I,Robot" - whilst a good way to recreate the artwork from Graham Greene's "The Quiet American" dust jacket was to make blocks using white erasers.

Making do with less is a good way to pare down your aesthetic. Less time, money, and effort....

Less colour, less design....

A well placed dot....etc....etc.....

one technique I might explore more of is cut outs and reveals - quite effective

and so it goes....

I hope it never ends.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

NOTES FROM THE WILDERNESS - back pared onlays

 So the Box job continues as it has done over the years - using as shown here for The Shining, Black Mischief, and King's Thinner - the by-now standard technique of back-pared onlays.
For those who are interested - leaving the backing paper on the onlay while pressing and paring and indeed glueing the boards and spine on - makes for a better finish.
 What you don't want is for the onlay to be proud.

 Using this method, you can get a smooth finish, ideally with a slightly indented surface, which I've found preferable.
A bientot.....

Saturday, July 30, 2016


Bless me father for I have sinned - its been over 2 years since my last confession and,  I must admit , I'm decidedly rusty and have no idea where to start.

A lot has happened since leaving New York, most of which I'll cover over the course of these notes from the wilderness.

I'm out of practise with writing so I'll be terse.

I completed this set of first edition Bond's in the summer of 2014 at the time of the move to California.

 Finished them all in the new place with the customary Airbrushing, surface gilding, back-pared onlays, tooling, and Photo-transfer
In the coming weeks I'll be writing about some Pynchon Design work, the use of hand letters in circle onlays on spines, a bit of design binding and whatever else comes my way.
PDB has also joined Instagram - you can find that on the right > and I am currently engaged in building my 5th and last Bindery in Pound Ridge, New York.

But I suppose the big news is - Im watch out!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Rose Family Seder - 2004 to 2014

Well.....what can I say, but if you read the first thought this would take a couple of weeks - I was wrong.

However, the book I was dreading is finally done. I say dreading because of the state of the pages i was given.

The previous temporary Rose Seder binding had been stuffed with pages, all glued in in-properly cockled, boards glued to pages, all of the margins ignored!, and just a bit of mess really.

First it had to be broken up, and those folds that could were sewn on stubbs. Pages that were not folds were gaurded, the boards were removed and some beautiful caligraphy was reframed using more appropriate paper and japanese tissue. Pages were joined into folds, and sewn onto stubbs, and some artwork that had been very poorly glued in were removed, carefully seperated and remounted on the appropriate paper.

All of this was rather nerve racking because all the artwork inside is completely original and irreplaceable, so...slowly slowly.

The signatures had to be individually gilded as there were many parts that needed gaurding compensation , were of different sizes, thickness, and as I mentioned before, some leaves were laminated to museum board , so doing it all at once was not an option....bad news for me, and for my gold.

We haven't even got to the binding yet.....a stubb binding, so all stubbs are sewn using an unsupported french link. Because of the size of the book(15x12x2) I knew I was probably going to have to split the binding up into 3 parts, as I wanted to use goat, and there aren't many skins about in a 1st quality large enough to do the whole thing in one go. Besides, I think it worked better that way.

Its backed in the normal way, lined,  it got a 3/4 hollow, a cartonnage spine, finished with a paper cape which runs along the spine and over each edge about 2 inches which I will use along with the leather to attach the boards.

 The spine was covered and head caps made in the normal manner, the boards made up, lined and covered , and only turned-in along the spine edge.

I made several designs on paper, all were variations on circular straight line tooled patterns, chose the simplest( and best i think!). Have it on hand and ready to go before you cover, that way your blind tooled lines will go a lot better.

The gold work took 2 days, 1 board a day, then they were attached and turned-in.

As you can see a leather joint was put in, in the french manner, and doublure of white calfskin could be inlaid.

Further tooling around the edges of the doublure was completed, and finally a goatskin suede laid down on the fly and trimmed.

After some simple tooling on the spine, a box was constructed with one my favorite additions of an outer wall along the trays.

The Rose Seder books will be on display at the NYPL from April 3rd to the 22nd for Passover, although possibly not this one, but they are worth a look - this is the forth.

All said and done....I like was very hard to make ....took way too long, and came at a bad time .

But I'm back.......and badder than ever!