Fantasy and Nonsense

In July earlier this year, I submitted a binding to a juried exhibit hosted by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers. The book received second place in the exhibit and will be on display from September 7 to November 4 at the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Due to great foresight, it will be on display during the Standards of Excellence Seminar, the annual meeting of the Guild of Book Workers (October 11-13).

Fantasy and Nonsense is a book of James Whitcomb Riley poetry letterpress printed by Tryst Press. The fun and quirky poetry is accompanied by really wonderful wood engravings, by Berrot Hubrecht, that match the mood of the poems perfectly. I was eager to submit an entry because not only was this book fun, but James Whitcomb Riley has strong roots in Indiana contributing so much to Indiana literature that he was deemed the “Hoosier Poet.”

I immediately started reacting to the text as I read it. I went through several sketches playing around with the imagery generated by the poems and engravings, almost giggling because the content was so fun. The poetry incorporates creepy crawlies and creatures that conjured the same image over and over in my head: eyes peering out of the darkness. I remember spooky tales from childhood always involving pairs of beady eyes that blink from inside a dark forest or shrubs. In his poem “Nine Little Goblins,” the goblins are described as having green glass eyes which contributed in a great way to the design.  It is this feeling and scenery that I wanted to capture for the cover.

Once again I returned to paste cloth so that I could customize the imagery with paint, but also to accommodate a new element to the binding. In order to achieve the “glass green eyes” LED lights and a programmable chip were embedded in the cover beneath the cloth and disguised so that when the LEDs are off you can’t see them. Another post, in the near future, will outline how all of the components were put together. Below is a video of the book “in action.”

(apologies for the quality of the video)

The clamshell box is covered in Navy Iris book cloth and the title is painted on the front. I created a stencil from the title page and enlarged it to fit the box. The book is powered by a single battery, which is enclosed in a compartment accessible by a small flap in the back cover. Since batteries have a limited life, the clamshell box has a compartment, like the book, that holds three additional batteries.