Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Making a sculptural book cover

I'm on a bit of a bookbinding buzz currently.  My current project is making a book cover based on alligator skin for my copy of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae.  I've developed a fascination with those alligator handbags that used to be fashionable decades ago before we had environmentalism and PETA and so on - you know the ones I mean, with the little alligator heads and feet stuck onto them.  Why did the fashion industry suddenly decide the latest must-have accessory was a dried alligator head?  I have no idea, and I find that question fascinating in itself.

Happily, reproducing the interesting texture of alligator skin does not require skinning an alligator.  First up, I need a basic book cover made from cardboard. A beer box is ideal for making sculptural book covers, and here's one I emptied earlier. You can see the cover has a front, a back, and a cardboard strip for the spine, and this is really all it needs.  From here, it's just a matter of decorating it.



The two covers and the spine are stuck together with a cloth hinge.  Once it's been made a little sturdier with the assistance of some paper and glue, I'm able to get down to the exciting business of creating texture.  Alligator skin is not really scaly; it's more sort of pebbly, so I'm using paper pulp "pebbles".  It's kind of like making a mosaic.

Progress shot of the cover getting its pebbly texture

The finished book cover

Next time, I'll show you how I make the dried head.