The Art of Book Design: A Houseboat on the Styx

John Kendrick Bangs. A Houseboat on the Styx. U.S., Harper & Brothers, 1895.

Today’s book is extra-special because it belongs to our very own Anne, Cranky Cat Lady. It’s also my very first reader submission for this column and I thank Anne for that very much. She tells me this book belonged to her parents and I can see that it’s landed in a good next home with someone who recognizes that the value of a book is more than just as a repository for stories.

Often when I post a lovely, old book I wonder what it feels like in your hand. What are its textures, its weight and its point of balance? What of the thickness of its papers and the feel of its edging as you turn a page? I wonder how the binding sounds as you open the book and what is the faint fragrance of its paper and glue and incense of ink. Modern e-readers are fine, functional things and I use one myself sometimes, but a book, a real book, is a treat for the senses and not just the mind.

If you have a real book that you’d like to share, I’d like to see it. Just e-mail me at the link on the sidebar. Thanks again, Anne, for sharing your A Houseboat on the Styx.

At least I had a pretty break

Hello there. I know, I’ve been very absent recently. Work was pretty demanding, the Damokles’ Sword of not knowing whether my contract will be renewed hanging over my head* and life being busy as usual.

Last weekend we first had #1’s “culture workshop”, which is an evening when all the groups in her school can present their projects, including her class. It was an amazing evening and the kids are really damn talented, from the chubby boy with the glasses doing a kick ass rap presentation to the Syrian girls reciting poetry about their home town Aleppo.

The next day was the little one’s school festival, which usually means the very same people working a lot. It#s the same everywhere. My colleague was totally stressed out because she was organising things for her kid’s festival the same weekend. Or as Pratchett noted: if you want to get something done, give it to somebody who is already busy.

And the works in the garden have finally begun. There’s nothing like coming home with a migraine and having people use heavy machinery around the house.

As a result, we used this long weekend (holiday on Thursday, “bridge day” on Friday) to lick our wounds and recover and spend some very quiet time together, going for walks etc.

But I also got some resin art done over the weeks, especially after Marcus’ latest parcel.

Some of this will be up for sale/auction for the FtB legal defence fund, so if you set your eye on something, just let me know.

*I’m pretty positive that I won’t be unemployed come next term, but that’s not the same as knowing and I’ve noticed that it has been slowly wearing me down.

First of all, this is what the garden looks like now:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

In tearing down the old stuff they found tons of unreasonable concrete which they have to get our somehow.

First project: tealight holder:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

These look very complicated but are actually dead easy and I’d say the perfect project if you want to do something with resin but not invest a lot of money in moulds and stuff: Just pour your resin onto wax paper, let cure for about 12 hours, fold over a glass, fix with a rubber and cure completely.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The fish are printed again, though I bought the sheet this time.

Next projects are under the fold:

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The Art of Book Design: The Velveteen Rabbit

Bianco, Margery Williams; Illustrations by Nicholson, William, Sir. London, Heinemann, 1922.

This is the original cover from the first publication of the book in 1922. I’ve included a few interior plates to showcase the simple, tender artwork that brings the story to life.

Bianco, Margery Williams; Illustrations by Nicholson, William, Sir. London, Heinemann, 1922.

Bianco, Margery Williams; Illustrations by Nicholson, William, Sir. London, Heinemann, 1922.

Bianco, Margery Williams; Illustrations by Nicholson, William, Sir. London, Heinemann, 1922.



via: The Internet Archive

The Art of Book Design: The Book of Lies

Aleister Crowly. The Book of Lies, which is also falsely called Breaks. The Wanderings or falsifications of The One Thought of Frater Perdurabo which Thought is itself Untrue. London, Wieland & Co. 1913

According to Wikipedia, Crowly was,

…an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century. A prolific writer, he published widely over the course of his life.

In the Wiki article specifically about The Book of Lies, the author says,

“This book deals with many matters on all planes of the very highest importance. It is an official publication for Babes of the Abyss, but is recommended even to beginners as highly suggestive.”[1]

The book consists of 91 chapters,[2][3] each of which consists of one page of text. The chapters include a question mark, poems, rituals, instructions, and obscure allusions and cryptograms. The subject of each chapter is generally determined by its number and its corresponding Qabalistic meaning

Well, that clear up everything.


via: The Pulp Girls

May Light

It’s that wonderful time of month when Nightjar shares her photo essay about the conditions of light.

I confess that I haven’t been as inspired lately, and that’s in part because light is becoming too bright and harsh for my taste already. I find autumn’s golden light and winter’s low and cool light so much more interesting to work with. But May is the month of flowers and bugs, and you can never go wrong with a random assortment of flowers and bugs under May sunlight, right?

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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The Art of Book Design: A Book about Bees

Jenyns, Charles Fitzgerald Gambier. A book about bees. Their history, habits, and instincts; together with the first principles of modern beekeeping for young readers.
London, W. Gardner, Darton, & co., 1886.

I thought this book was a nice complement to Nightjar’s Bee Orchids of earlier today.


via: The Internet Archive

Wild Orchids

We have something special from Nightjar today.

Remember this ( when I said that visiting that limestone hill during Spring would be more interesting because of all the wild orchids? Well, this month I did just that and managed to find 4 species of wild orchids! The Bee and Yellow Bee orchids I found mostly on my way up, while the Pyramidal and Mirror orchids were everywhere at the roadside verges around the hill. I was thrilled to find so many Mirror orchids this year, they are among my favourite wild flowers just because of how glossy and shiny they are. Mirror orchids are pollinated exclusively by a single species of solitary wasp and I love how far their mimicry goes, eyes and everything!

Bee Orchid – Ophrys apifera 1 ©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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