Brick & Mortar since 1991. Blogging since 2006. From Jason Thompson, Rag & Bone founder & creative director. We write about the things we love: bookbinding, book arts, paper arts, the bindery, personal stuff, our kids, our travels, sometimes food and sometimes art.
Here’s a great resource for authors and designers, the Book Cover Archive. It’s edited and maintained by Ben Pieratt of General Projects and Eric Jacobsen of Whisky Van Gogh Go and described as “An archive of book cover designs and designers for the purpose of appreciation and categorization.”
You can search the archive by many attributes: designer, illustrator, publisher, author, etc. Or just randomly peruse the 1000+ covers.
Hey, it’s Friday the 13th. I’ve never been one to be suspicious, I’ve walked under ladders, on sidewalk cracks and pet black cats as much as any other cat. But if you find yourself watching out for these unlucky actions - opening umbrellas indoors, breaking mirrors - or worse yet, forgetting about them all, you might need a copy of Kyle Bean’s The Guide To The Unlucky. Each page contains a description and a pop up 3D page illustrating those unlucky actions.
This is one very big blank book: a 100 year diary. “If you are too young to fill it in right now someone else can fill it in for you, things like your first steps, first words and first day at school. This is the story of your life, treasure it always.” I love it.
about me… facts about yourself world map… where you have lived and travelled to education… your schools and qualifications awards and achievements… prizes, medals, trophys useful and useless skills… all the skills you have learned jobs… places you have worked homes… where you lived and who with 50 things to do before you die… your own life ambitions
Every book is a world waiting to explore, and if that’s the case, here’s a book we could all use every so often, Alex Ostrowski’s “The Happiest book In The World”. Alex designed this one-of-a-kind binding for his final year at school and it’s inspired by the subject of Happiness.
In 2006 researchers at The University of Leicester concluded that Denmark is the happiest country in the world and that was good enough for Alex. He ventured to Denmarkfor inspiration in search of happiness and upon his return even attempted to get a block of Bristol [UK] flats to physically smile. No word on the results of the smile experiment but happiness may be closer than we think.
In one way or another we are all looking for happiness. Some people even say that man’s sole purpose for existence is to hunt down and capture this intangible and elusive treasure. In 2006 researchers at The University of Leicester concluded that Denmark is the happiest country in the world. In March 2008 I made the decision to visit happiness, and embarked upon a pilgrimage to find it. My experiences are presented in this book.
DQ Books are virtual, flash-based “books” which are only published online. Each issue is a collaboration between several designers and artists. As online artwork, they’re a mash-up of illustration, photography, narrative and soundscapes - think Thom Yorke meets Man Ray. The narratives are pretty loose, and it appears that the medium dictates the content.
I like the satisfying “swish” when you turn the pages, and the ability to turn the book 90 degrees on its side on a few spreads. The background sounds compliment the images and make you slow down a bit to appreciate the overall effect.
There are currently four “issues”, not all are safe for work.
We’ve known Eco Jot’s brother & sister team Mark and Carolyn Gavin for years. We first met as neighbors at one of the Stationery Shows. We still try to make time for dinner at Zen Pallet when we meet at the shows. Mark and Carolyn run a wonderful business making journals in Canada. Their company was formerly known as “Mirage Paper Co”, but with the success of their new ecologically conscious journals they have changed the name to “ECO JOT”.
Not only do they make great journals with recycled papers but Carolyn Gavin is a wonderful designer who creates all of the cover options for the Eco Jot line. Carolyn has a blog and was recently featured on Print & Pattern.
Check out their charming website. You can find their journals just about everywhere through the “where to buy” section on their website.
The lovely Kim Keene created this charming “3D Paper City” with houses in the shape of Chinese Take-out boxes. Wouldn’t you love to pick up your take-out in one of these stunning boxes? Probably not, it would be a shame to drench them in Garlic Sauce. Kim grew up in Orlando, Florida and is a Junior at Ringling College of Art and Design for Graphic & Interactive Communication. Check out the rest of the designs in her portfolio - she’s got mad skillz with the book designing.
This is a 3D city I constructed out of Bristol Paper. My theme I went with was that all of my houses were made of Chinese togo boxes, kinda of a Shangra- La with sushi door matts lol. I made a book that housed all of my diagrams, patterns and back story of my city so that others could build it. I Japanese stab bound it to reflect the content.
Check out the cool Bingo Books for sale by Etsy seller Kelly McMahon, AKA: Maydaystudio.
May Day Studio is a bookbinding and letterpress printing studio in Montpelier, Vermont. I envision the day when all correspondence will be letterpressed, and all journals will be one-of-a-kind. May Day Studio’s letterpress visions are achieved with handset type, funky paper, and a C&P Pilot called Minnie. Journals are likely crafted from found objects and bits of beautiful paper. We like to think that it’s the unique intersection of new and old, skill and craft that makes May Day Studio unique.
Kelly McMahon is a “one-time poet and type junkie who learned the tools of the trade and never looked back.” She makes her home in sunny & snowy Montpelier, Vermont. Sounds charming! Check out her blog for more bookish and letterpress posts.
Book designer Irma Boom [I keep mistyping her last name as “Book”] works on unusual and special bookish design projects. If you google her work, you’ll find lots of wonderful Dutch inspired book designs, many awards and credits. Her most ambitious book design project took up five years of her life, culminating with a book so large, so dense, she developed backaches just working with it. Although she had an unlimited budget (wha, wha, whaaat???) and a generous patron, Paul Fentener van Vlissingen, Chief executive for the Dutch conglomerate SHV, the project took over her life.
All [Paul] said was, “Make something unusual,“” Boom said. “It started out as a dream project but became a nightmare, because of the time.” Having decided to compile the book from found text and images, she …scoured SHV’s archives for material and traveled all over the world to find more. When Boom had to cancel the order for her first choice of paper (after being told by the Japanese producer that it would take 14 years to make) she invented her own paper.
Wow! That’s some undertaking. I haven’t found information about the print run - is this a one-of-a-kind? Not sure. I can’t imagine taking five years to design a book.
Jack Kerouac typed the manuscript for On The Road on a single, taped-together, roll of paper. He was such a fast typist - 100 words per minute - that by the time he was on a roll (so to speak) he would be at the end of the page and have to stop his concentration and replace the paper. I don’t remember when I used a typewriter in school, how difficult it was to change the paper, but I can see how losing your concentration would be a concern. Kerouac simply taped all the pages together and typed continuously on one long scroll. It took about three weeks to type, not including subsequent edits.
The manuscript was bought at Christie’s for 2.4 million dollars and it is currently on view at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. How appropriate that the manuscript was a scroll, like a holy relic, the publisher even referred to the book as “The bible of the beat generation”. The scroll is single length of paper rolled out like a road.
Using a manual typewriter in a New York City loft, Jack Kerouac produced the original manuscript of On the Road during a three-week period in the spring of 1951. Fifty years and one month later, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay purchased the widely-acknowledged icon of the Beat Generation at a Christies auction in New York, less than a mile from where it was created. Kerouac produced the continuous scroll by taping pages of semi-translucent paper together to feed the typewriter and write without interruption. The text is single-spaced, without paragraphs, and edited in pencil by Kerouac.
On The Road Exhibition
Boott Cotton Mills Museum
June 15 – October 14
Lowell National Historical Park
Probably the greatest modern bookbinder is Philip Smith. One of the first Art Books I received as a gift contained bindings by Philip Smith, and I have to admit, I almost gave up the thought of binding books myself. His work is amazing, and solid. His book cover treatments, composed of layered and collaged leather and other materials, almost overwhelm the contents of the actual book. If Mr. Smiths work was framed on the wall, most would consider it outstanding. But paired with the literary aspect of the books he chooses to bind his art achieves a weightiness, a seriousness which elevates the written words inside. I find his work to be a little overwhelming, with a lack of clean lines, or simple design, but he has influenced the art binding market and is an icon in the bookbinding world.
His prices start at about $25,000. I’ve handled art bindings at the yearly ABA book show in Boston each year, but never a Philip Smith binding. Be sure to visit this event if you’re near Portland, OR.
Philip Smith: Extraordinary Bindings From an Englishman
Exhibition open until July 11, 2007
Multnomah County Central Library
801 S.W. 10th Avenue, Portland, OR
This clip is from Martin Frost’s website, the British master of fore-edge painting today. Since he began in the 1970’s, Martin has painted more than 3000 fore-edge paintings. You can see from the video what a fore-edge painting is, but here is Wiki to explain it in more detail:
A fore-edge painting is a scene painted on the edges of the pages of a book such that the painting is not visible when the book is closed. In order to view the painting, the leaves of the book must be fanned, exposing the edges of the pages and thereby the painting. Generally, gilt or marbling will be applied by the bookbinder after the painting has dried so as to make the painting completely invisible when the book is closed.
What I love most about these are that they are hidden in plain view. I have seen only a few artists attempt fore-edge painting on book art, due to the fact that it is difficult to acheive. Does anyone have examples of book art fore-edge painting to share?
I’m a little late with thie post, which was going around the first week of March, but it’s never too late to mix art with charity. This postcard-book showcases post-Katrina work by New Orleans based designers and serves as a medium to share their personal recollections through design narratives. 5% of proceeds will go towards the AIGA New Orleans Design Educational Fund.
If you’re in Buffalo, New York this weekend, check out the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. This one-day event brings together booksellers, authors, bookmakers, zinesters, small presses, artists, poets, and other cultural workers (and enthusiasts) in a venue where they can share ideas, showcase their art, and peddle their wares. Sounds like a good time for all. I’ve been to a few book fairs in my day and my suggestion is show up early. You’ll invariably strike up conversations with vendors and before you know it, you’ll still have half the show to check out and the day is almost over.
In addition, poetry readings, performances, discussions, and related lectures are scheduled to go on throughout the day. Check out the schedule of events for details.
March 31st, 12pb - 6pm
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Porter Hall
453 Porter Avenue
Buffalo, New York
Robert Sabuda’s pop-up books are pretty wonderful and available just about everywhere, you can’t walk through Borders without bumping into a Sabuda floor display. Our favorite is “Winter’s Tale: An Original Pop-up Journey”. We especially love the last page which has hidden LED lights beneath the tiny eaves of a little pop-up house. Pull a tag and they light up and blink like a holiday display.
Now Robert Sabuda will teach you to make pop-up art too with a dozen card projects (with images and printable templates) on his website.