Sunday, November 6, 2016

A book for Glass Hammer; an ancient binding for an ancient tale: The Lay of Lirazel

Steve Babb's epic poem The Lay of Lirazel found its way into my hands in the format of a paperback copy with lovely haunting cover imagery one day at Sound Resources Recording Studio. 

But the vision that Steve has for art creating more art knows his richly inspired poem in human hands and on bookstore shelves will continue its creative energy.  From the painters and poets who began the inspiration, to Glass Hammer's own lyrical song, to this epic poem, Lirazel continues her creative wake within this new binding.

I'll lay before you parts of the process of converting the original printed book into a hand bound leather covered version through the eyes of a book binder. 

I've been able to make many blank books from scratch through the years, but had never re-bound a printed book.  We both agreed it would be handsome in a medieval format, and Steve had a copy he didn't mind me experimenting with, so I decided to try.  The starting product was a machine bound glued paperback book, and no fold in the pages for me to sew through.  I removed the cover, and broke the book into four sections.  I stacked them again, stabbed holes through the book block, used those for sewing a modified Japanese stab stitch, and re-glued the spine, and also the margin of the pages between the four sections.  My book block was complete, but I wasn't happy with how the sections were not completely even anymore.
I sanded the top and fore- edge, and ultimately decided to age the edges with a candle flame.

I borrowed the cover image from the original book.   I reduced the size of the image of the beautiful sleeping Lirazel, laid a clear version of it on foil to appear as a mysterious  and darkened mirror, and fit it into a gothic  mirror frame from another Etsy seller-  Fallen Angel Brass.   I recessed the whole thing into a one of the layers of book board. Old leather used from a coat that was given to me to lay over the several layers of book board that give the covers their shape.  The spine ridges get their shape from strips of leather used to mimic the ancient practice of sewing onto cords. 

I fit the book block into the covers and began my favorite part of the completion of the process-  choosing the end pages.  What I chose here is a black and cream French hand marbled paper. 

 The long and slow way that a story comes into being, the way that any act of creation takes careful, thoughtful, joyful work reflects the process of creating a hand bound book.  I love the way each detail of a bound book has gone through its own process and story, and can more fully bring to life the history and making of an epic tale.