"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

“August Midnight”

As I said in the last post I have been attending a 7 session book binding course which sadly has just ended. There have been many trials and many many more errors. It is a slow and methodical process but small successes keep me going.

This little concertina book was made to see how a three level concertina form might work, reasons for using three layers and the technical problems involved.
It’s based around the evocative Thomas Hardy poem “August Midnight” which I mentioned before on the blog back in 2011in my Fly-Bee-night print post here.

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The poem mentions 4 insects that visit Hardy’s room at night while he is writing. “A longlegs, a moth and a dumbledore”  and “a sleepy fly that rubs its hands”.
I played around with various formats and ways of doing this, but up against time rather than make prints of the insects I decided to use cut paper shapes which utilises the three layers. Things can get lost in the valley folds of concertinas sometimes so I reversed it with the insects emerging from the peaks, and designed it to lie flat rather than stand. Now the insects can have their wings open. Also the symmetry in both the poem and the insects lends itself to this form.

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The three levels needed to be to some extent visible and also support the layer above. So the base level is a hand printed lino of night sky on thick card, the second level Hardy’s handwriting printed on quite robust translucent paper and the top layer, the insects, made from soft Japanese paper which is also slightly translucent and very delicate just like his little companions. On the reverse is the night sky again but a darker print. The hard covers are covered with soft mat black slightly textured Japanese paper, the insect wings cut from printed Japanese paper are set in a recess in the cover.

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Covers and layers

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The reverse of the book

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It is designed to be lit. Night shadows of wings and legs.

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It was tricky to make, if you are just 1mm off nothing folds correctly. There were issues with getting the right paper, some papers cockling with the paste, some too thin, some too thick.  I made and remade it three times.

Below is that big pile of trials and errors and my initial design notes written on the train on a scrap of paper. I love working on the train, few distractions and just a pen and a piece of paper.

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Again a big thanks to Sue Doggett our excellent tutor for help and advice.
This book was a side project while working on a much bigger project which will take a month or so to complete… more of that to come.
I am beginning to see how I can fulfil my long held desire to print and bind my own books.. at last!