Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Venus and Adonis

This binding is done on a 1931 printing of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis by The Printing House of Leo Hart, with illustrations by Rockwell Kent.  I used one of these illustrations for the cover design.  I felt the image of Venus would look better for the front cover of the book so I reversed the image. To have the drawing fit the cover, I drew more leaves above the figures and completed Adonis's head.

I  chose a terracotta goatskin for the cover to accent the orange in the illustration. The top edge had been painted originally with a bright yellow gold, but I did not like the look with the leather so I airbrushed a darker orange gold over it. The other edges were left uncolored.

I began with the larger shapes and cut the onlays out of black and two shades of green. I decided to do the lines of the drawing with black line onlays.

I drew out the image on a 3 ply Bristol board and began cutting out the drawing. As I cut along a line, I then taped the pieces back together with a low tack blue masking tape. I first focused around the large onlay pieces.  

The drawing was placed over the trimmed and pared cover leather. Only then I could remove the piece of the bristol board where an onlay would go.  When the onlay was trimmed and edge pared to fit, I scraped the cover leather and used a paste and PVA mixture to adhere the piece in place.

When the onlays were all adhered to the leather, I back pared the piece and pasted it on the book. 

I continued cutting and taping the the drawing but left some lines uncut so the Bristol Board was not completely cut apart. I need to lift out sections so sometimes a line extended past the drawn line to join another so a piece could be lifted. To guide the tooling later, I used a red pencil to tell me were I stopped and started the line again.

I wrapped a strip of paper around the top and another strip at the bottom of the book so I could tape down the cut drawing at the top. That way the drawing could be lifted up to see the  tooling.  At the bottom, I used two pieces of tape to keep the drawing in place during the tooling.

All of the tooling was done with a single stylus.  I lifted out a section and with a warm tool, outlined the open shape. I lifted the drawing, and used a small brush to put water over the line. Then I tooled it again with the warm tool, creating a blind tooled line. This stylus is available from Talas; it is called the Ascona tool http://apps.webcreate.com/ecom/catalog/product_specific.cfm?ClientID=15&ProductID=23963

After more cutting and more tooling, this is what the two cover drawings looked like once the blind tooling was finished.
For the line onlays, I took very thin paired leather, pasted it out and stuck it to a piece of mylar. After it dried, the paste gave the leather some stiffness so I could cut strips thin enough to fit into the tooled lines.

 I began to glue the strip of leather by dragging it through PVA and then dragging it across the waste paper, leaving a small amount of glue on the leather strip. It was then placed in the tooled line and rubbed down with a piece of Japanese tissue to absorb any extra glue that might ooze out. 

Then to continue gluing the strip in place, I folded the strip back and brushed on more glue over an inch or two wide area. I rubbed it down in place and repeated that until the line was finished. With this image, you can see that I have the lines end away from the edge of the boards so they will not be easy rubbed out of place when the book is held.


  1. Absolutely Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  2. I love the explanation of the process, as well as the results. Thanks, Jana!

  3. great idea ... :) for me as ebook cover designer &
    book cover designer i could say this good enough for alternative covering of books. or anything that has to be covered.

  4. Wow, Jana - this is great! The black lines are really amazing (actually all of it is amazing :)