Sunday, October 21, 2012

Skin Graft of a Burnt Book

I have been working on simple, mindless, straightforward jobs since last week to recover from the trauma caused by La Merope ordeal. I just needed some time to heal my mind a bit. One of the jobs that gives me calmness and sereneness is what I call a "skin graft operation". It's basically a cosmetic repair on books that have gotten severe disfigurement issues caused by relatively common occurrences such as "Sh*t, my dog just ate my book!" or "They burnt my Harry Potter, god dammit!" or "Stop throwing books at me! I didn't sleep with your BFF!". Well, whatever injured those unfortunate books, I like doing this procedure because all I have to do is to just sit there and focus on the part I'm "operating" on! No need to move around, look around, carry heavy things around and it's very meditating to me. But most importantly, I like getting a "Wow!" from clients who didn't think the complete transformation was possible. Anyway, this is a 1862 Bible in German. There's a large hole on the back cover that appears to be caused by fire. I can see that the edges of the hole were shrunken and melt, and there are some surface damages on the surrounding area as well. Maybe someone knocked over a candle or left a cigar on it? Anyway, I transplanted a new skin from a new hinde which was cut exactly the shape to fit into the damaged hole, and colored and put the exact texture to match the surrounding. The seam is still visible if you look close, so I was disappointed a bit. But considering how bad the original condition was, I think this is the best any book doctors can do!

Friday, October 12, 2012

La Merope Tragedia, 1818

Wow,, it's been over a month since my last post!?! I've been juggling too many things at once lately, and have totally forgotten about my blog. Well, I suck at multitasking, so when there's more than one thing I must do with a deadline, I get confused, overwhelmed and start making the stupidest mistakes that lead to further mistakes if I keep working in the same atmosphere. This book here I just finished is a perfect example of that. My master handed this job to me a couple of months ago, requiring me to finish it by the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair. The client, Mr. Collins of Louis Collins Books asked for a binding that's super rich in gold tooling, like the ones of 17th~18th century's. No problem, I thought at first. But no sooner had I started tooling the leather than I realized the shiny new gold made the cover look rather like a cheap souvenir from Asia or something. ( I can say it without sounding like an ass because I'm Asian!) I designed, redesigned and re-redesigned the cover to meet Mr. Collins inquiry, but to me, the cover that's totally covered with new shiny gold still look rather cheapish no matter what. So I decided to simplify the design, yet with enough gold to satisfy Mr. Collins' vision. By this time, I'd discarded a few leather cases for my experiments and had only about a month till the deadline. I felt pushed, so I knew I'd make the usual "stupidest mistakes" if I wasn't careful. Well, guess what. I ended up redoing the binding a couple of times again. First stupid mistake: After finishing the tooling, the OCD side of me started telling me to refine some parts of gold tooling. I screwed it up! Second stupid mistake: I knocked over a bottle of leather dye and ruined the case. The third binding is shown on this post. I can't say I personally like the design as a whole, so if I had a few more days, I'd probably redo it. But If I say it, master would think I'm crazier than he previously thought, so I keep my mouth shut. Well, tomorrow is the book fair, and my master will go there to deliver this book to Mr. Collins first thing in the morning. Sigh... I hope he approves my work.. Am nervous..

This book is La Merope Tragedia by Scipione Maffei, published in Livorno (New Edition. 1818) The leather is custom dyed to create a faint texture and depth for a slight antiqued effect. (though the picture doesn't really show it.) A headband is sewn only on the top as the bottom of the book is rugged. The end paper is blue Italian marble, was hand-marbled by Galen Berry.