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!