The Art of Book Design: East of Eden

John Steinbeck. East of Eden: Penguin Books, 2012.Cover Art by Kathryn McNaughton

Kathryn McNaughton is a Canadian artist from Toronto. She was commissioned by Penguin Books, UK to design a series of covers for Steinbeck’s classic novels. This one is my favourite, but if you click the link below you’ll find the rest of the series.


From: ShitIheart

The Art of Book Design: The Water Babies


Charles Kingsley. The Water Babies. London: Macmillan and Co., 1886 — Source.

There are a lot of small details that make this one of my favourite vintage book covers; the blue leather etched to look like water, the brightly coloured flowers that float, bubbles and birds and flowing lines all adding up to the sense of being underwater.


From: The Public Domain Review, The Art of Book Covers (1820 – 1914)

The Art of Book Design: The History of the Devil and The Idea of Evil

The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil; from the earliest times to the present day. Paul Carus, Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1900- Source

A devilish design today done in flame red on matte black replete with a bat-winged demon (who’s looking very contemplative) and a seductive snake.




The Art of Book Design: My Garden in Spring

E. A. Bowles. My Garden in Spring. London: T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1914 — Source. Cover design by Katherine Cameron

I love books. Real books with real paper are a treat for the senses. I love the way they feel in my hand, the way they smell and the way they catch my eye. That last bit, the eye-catching, is what this new series is all about; the art of designing striking books that make you stop and take a closer look. My original interest in starting this series came from The Public Domain Review and I’ll be pulling from their collections and lots of other sources. Every day you’ll get a beautiful book to admire. Many will be old, but not all. There will be a lot of art nouveau because I like art nouveau, but I’ll try to change it up and keep it interesting. I’m also willing to feature any book you might want to share as long as it’s beautiful and eyecatching. Send any of your suggestions to me at The address is always in the sidebar.

Our Book today is in celebration of Spring. The art nouveau design is by Katherine Cameron and together with E.A. Bowles they created a series of garden books. If you click on the link below you can also find the covers for My garden in Autumn and Winter and My garden in Summer. Together they make a beautiful set.

From: My Beautiful Book Finds



Even More Books…

Well, one more book. I have about twenty knife and swords books in the sights for future purchases, but I am still in the middle of reading the first seven I already have purchased. The flu-like illness that has been bugging me on and off for two weeks is unfortunately not very conducive to reading, especially to reading in a foreign language.

But Marcus was so very, very kind and has sent me this beauty, which I have not seen offered anywhere here. I must say it is a lovely book on first sight and it became a cherished possession instantly.

Now I had not planned on buying a book specifically about japanese knives, because I intend leaving making japanese knives to the Japanese, but there is no denying that they have a reputation of being superb tools so it won’t hurt to know about them. Quite the opposite, I am sure there is a lot of knowledge in this book that will be beneficial to me and I am very much looking forward to reading it.

However this makes me think a little – all the knives that I have made so far and that I intend to make in the future are my own designs and represent my aesthetical preferences as well as my style of using a knife. And whenever I look at works of other knife-makers (which I do not do very often), often I see that everyone develops a distinctive style. For example Bob Loveless has been renown for drop-point small hunting knives, Walter Sorrels sells mostly very pointy and straight, tanto-style all-purpose knives, Stefan Santangelo seems to like knives which have a slight forward angle between the blade and the handle with a little kink in it etc. I have no doubt that all these knives are perfectly functional and comfortable to use. There is no single “correct” knife design.

I find it remarkable how expressive can be a piece of craft that is essentialy just a sharpened sheet of metal with a piece of wood to hold it with, even when looking at just the outline.

Incidentally you can see two things in the last picture. Firstly, my left middle finger is nearly completely healed. There is still slight swelling and an area with tickling-burning sensation when touched, but it gets constantly, albeit very slowly, better. Secondly, in case you are wondering, that is my school pencil-case, about thirty years old by now.