The Art of Book Design: Mighty Mikko: Finnish Folk and Fairy Tales, Part1

Parker Fillmore. Mighty Mikko: Finnish Folk Tales and Fairy Tales. Illustrated by Jay Van Everen. New York : Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922.

I’m overdue for highlighting Finnish Fairy Tales so our book this week contains a wealth of old Finnish folk stories translated for an English-speaking audience. Illustrator Jay Van Everen breathes life into the stories using graphic, modern drawings with geometric and abstract elements. There is only 1 colour plate in Mighty Mikko, but Van Everen was best known for his bright, colourful abstract paintings. Nonetheless, Van Everen’s black and white drawings for Mighty Mikko are bold and full of interest. The artist uses 2 different styles of illustration in the book – one for the first half of traditional tales and another for the second half of the book which contains the continuing saga of Mikko. Both styles are interesting and worth a good look so I’m going to break this post into 2 parts. Part 2 will be posted next Saturday.

Enjoy!

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The Art of Book Design: Olga Romanov

 

Olga Romanoff or The Syren of the Skies. A Sequel to “The Angel of the Revolution.” George Griffith. London: Tower Publishing Company Limited, 1894. First edition, first issue.

This book is a futuristic science fiction story told in melodramatic Victorian prose. The story was originally serialized in Pearson’s Weekly of London.

 

Cover photo via: Books and Art

The book is available to read at Project Gutenberg Australia

The Art of Book Design: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Cover Art by Margaret Armstrong. New York, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1899.

The art nouveau cover of this 1899 edition of the classic book bears little resemblance to the plain editions that preceded it or to its many subsequent dark and creepy covers.

 

Cover photo via: Books and Art

The book is available to read at The Internet Archive

Holidays: More Park Güell

Some more details of the tiles at Park Güell. It certainly is one of my favourite places in Barcelona, once conceived as a settlement for workers, with a sustainable water recycling facility and communal area. It was never finished, but has become one of Barcelona’s tourist attractions.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

You can see how the colourful tiles have been smashed up in order to fit them to all the curved surfaces.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Here they look more random. Anecdote has it that the Barceloneses thought Gaudí was crazy for commissioning perfectly good tiles and the smashing them all up…

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The building to the left is not part of Park Güell but an older one.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This area is underneath the “balconies” we saw yesterday.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

It’s hard to see in the pic’s, but none of the columns goes up straight.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

My first Commission – Part 7 – Sharp!

Hell isn’t forever after all. Today I have finished both blades and for the second one, I opted for a satin finish. Not because it is easier – it is not – but because I wanted to see the difference and decide what I like more for the future. Well, I am still undecided, but I can see the difference. And so can you, although it was not easy to think of a way to photograph this.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The satin finish was made by me not going to the finest buffing compound. Instead of that, I went for a fine abrasive pad right after the medium buffing compound and I dragged it along the blade a few (hundred) times. And I probably will do some more.

After the blades were finished, I have decided to sharpen them. I probably will sharpen blades before assembly for several reasons. Firstly I like making apple seed (convex) edges, that give the blade look as if it does not have a secondary bevel at all. For that, I might need to re-buff the blade a bit, and that can only be done before the handle gets in the way. Secondly, should I scratch the blade by accident during the sharpening, it is easier to re-polish it before assembly. So whilst I do not necessarily sharpen the knives to shaving sharp at this stage, I do sharpen them to some 90%.

This steel (N690) should not be sharpened at an angle steeper than 15°, steeper than that and the fine edge allegedly tends to break off. I have no reason to doubt this since the blades are hard as hell. This time I have a way to get a really nice and consistent angle – I could use my magnetic jig. So I did. The N690 is steel with so-called “secondary hardening”, so it is basically nearly impossible to overheat and destroy the edge during sharpening. Nevertheless, I took care to take my time and not overheat it, it does not pay to get into bad habits.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

You may see that there is no platen behind the belt, so I am using a slack-belt setup here. That means the secondary bevel will be concave and the cutting edge itself will be sharpened in fact at an angle a bit higher than 15°, which is ideal for a hunting/camping knife of this type.  Convex grinds are very durable – the knife that I have made for my mother needs sharpening only about two-three times a year despite being used and abused daily.

Speaking of that, when I was at it I also sharpened all her kitchen knives. Those took just one-two very quick passes on the slackbelt and then a few passes on my stropping wheel (made according to Walter Sorrell’s video)

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Your eyes do not deceive you, that grinder with the stropping wheel is back-to-front.  For stropping, the wheel must rotate in the direction of the edge, not against it, because it is softer than the blade and if you try stropping against the edge, the blade will bite into the fast-spinning wheel and dire consequences will follow. Having the grinder backward allows me to work on the upper side of the wheel, so should it grab the knife and throw it, it will hit the wall and not my leg or the concrete ground. I find it also a lot easier to strop the blades that way.

The stropping wheel gets the knives to scary-sharp in mere seconds. I am using the coarse stropping compound, in my opinion, it makes a better edge than the fine ones.

Now the blades are polished, nearly completely sharp and wrapped in masking tape. It took me three times more time than I think it should and about 30% more than I thought it will. But now the most time-consuming and nerve-wracking part is hopefully behind me and next steps will be free of trials and tribulations. Or at least with significantly shorter ones.

The Art of Book Design: Winnie The Pooh

A.A. Milne. Winnie The Pooh. Illustrations by Ernest A. Shepherd. New York, E.P. Dutton, 1961.

A.A. Milne. Winnie The Pooh. Illustrations by Ernest A. Shepherd. New York, E.P. Dutton, 1961.

A.A. Milne. Winnie The Pooh. Illustrations by Ernest A. Shepherd. New York, E.P. Dutton, 1961.

It isn’t exactly a fairy tale, but I’m feeling nostalgic and this is one of my favourite books from childhood. My mother read to me every night until long after I could read for myself and this was the book that I most often asked for. I loved the gentle ways of Pooh and his friends and my mom had different voices for each of the characters that brought the book to life. The edition above is from 1961 and it’s the one that we had in our little library. I wish I could say that I still had it, but when my parents divorced it went missing along with a lot of other books that were likely passed down to another child in our neighbourhood. [Read more…]