by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by Barry Moser
University of California, Berkeley, 1986, Pennyroyal Press edition
Private collection, USA
Covered in salmon pink goatskin with several back-pared onlays in yellow, red, green and purple. Gold tooling.
I am interested in optical illusions and visual puzzles, and try to include these in many of my designs. So Dorothy and Toto are hidden in the forest (recalling the scene in the story where they get attacked by trees). The poppy field on the back has giant threatening flowers. The Lion and the Wicked Witch are in their respective forests: the witch lives in the forest in the west and our heroes have to go and kill her, and the lion is made king of the forest for his bravery. Their profiles lie hidden in the tree-tops.
All the coloured areas on the cover are back-pared onlays. The forest, poppy field, and Emerald City are panels with additional back-pared onlays, worked off the book, and then put onto the covering leather along with the yellow brick road and the forests, and then the whole cover is back-pared again, giving a smooth, flat surface. The book was covered at this stage and then tooled.
Winner of the J. Hewit & Sons Award for Craftsmanship, Society of Bookbinders International Competition, 2011.
by Thomas Hardy, wood engravings by Peter Reddick
Folio Society, 1968
Private collection, UK
Covered in full brown goatskin, with light and medium brown feathered, back-pared onlays. Design tooled in gold and black foil using my adapted finishing tool.
A family is rent in two when Michael Henchard sells his wife at a country fair. She and their daughter are cast adrift, as he goes on to make his fortune in corn, and ultimately becomes Mayor. Then, in time, they meet again, and his past catches up with him. After being overheard talking of his past, and then a bad harvest leads to a crash in the corn prices, he is ruined, and his wife and daughter are once again destroyed. These moments in the novel are all depicted in the tooling if you look closely enough.
One of my first abstract line drawing bindings. I create the design from quite rough sketches and then transfer them carefully onto the leather, adding further lines which break up the imagery. I have made a few Hardy bindings using this approach - this is the first.
by William Shakespeare, illustrations by Paul Nash
The Shakespeare Head Press, 1924
Private collection, UK
A Fantasy Forest crashes into a Fantasy Palace, and across it the splendor of three stories are played out.
One particular image from Nash's colour plates drew me in. His depiction of the wood near Athens describes simple arches, which are trees of course, but also refer stylistically to the black and white illustrations of the Palace of Theseus. In other words, the shapes of the columns are echoed in the rather regular shape of the trees. This is when I realised that for the rustics, mechanicals and fairies, the Forest is their Temple.
The design then, has the Palace in the City turning into the Palace in the Forest. The bold shapes and bright colours of the trees act like a set-design. But the branches of the trees become arches which could be part of a building, and then they collide with the Palace roof and the two worlds mingle.
Across this 'set' runs a banner, which is the time-line of the play, and the ten main characters are depicted in it, including Bottom, transformed into an ass.
Awarded second prize for Fine Binding, Society of Bookbinders International Competition, 2011.
Extracted from Midsommer Nights Dreame
by William Shakespeare, woodcuts by Chris Nurse
Old Stile Press, 2003
Collection of The Bodleian Library, Oxford
Covered in brown and overlapping black goatskin, with inlays of layered and sanded leather. Inlay of the moon made from sanded white and blue leather. Silver tooling.
The rude mechanicals gather in the forest to rehearse their play. One actor plays the wall through which the lovers speak (this is the spine of the book, dividing the two worlds of Pyramus and Thisbe). Another plays the moon, and another the chink in the wall (this is represented on the box of the book). Finally, the lovers themselves have their names 'forever writ among the stars'. I have tooled their names in such a way that you should only be able to make them out faintly: if they were too obvious there would be no point in them.
The binding combines two techniques I learned from my first teacher Paul Delrue. These are Lacunose (the sanded leather) and Tudor Style (the technique of covering a book in overlapping strips of leather). As a teacher myself, to achieve success with this binding is a fitting reminder of the importance of 'passing it on'.
Winner of first prize, the Sir Paul Getty Award, in Designer Bookbinders International Competition, 2013.