Technical Difficulties

The first deluxe copies. . .

First Attempt

First Attempt

. .  .looked like whipped shit. Too lumpy, too heavy, too overworked, too crowded. I sent the pictures to Prue, and she very generously offered to embroidered the covers for the ten deluxe copies. After picking myself up off the floor (Prue is a genius embroiderer) I decided to muddle through myself, and give up, if necessary, at some future point. So, this was round two:

Second Attempt

Second Attempt

Front

Front

Other Front

Other Front

Window

Window

Other Window

Other Window

Better, but . . .

My problem is that I’m working so hard on this project that I can’t seem to relax and have a good time, and it’s showing up in the work. Every attempt has some little almost-fits, close-enough, it-won’t show, too-large, too-small problems, and with each iteration, they add up. If I’m going to be satisfied with this, I’m going to have to go back several steps and clean up. The glass windows are an example – the fit-and finish will never be right, and I’m not sure they add anything to the magic of the piece. It may just be something I fell in love with and don’t have the guts to throw overboard in order to ride higher in the water.

So I’m taking a few days off to sleep, pull weeds, wrestle with the dog, love on my husband, read funny books, and eat. And have a really good glass of wine.

But to tide you over, here’s the inevitable map:

The Map

The Map

The First Copy!

I made the first copy of the trade edition:

The Front

The Front

The Back

The Back

Which was yesterday. Today I tackled the deluxe copies.

Here’s my plan: to do some decorative beading and stitching on the spine of the books (blush beige silk shantung with an overlayer of iridescent gold net),

Spines

Spines

and bind the rest of the book with the dandelion paper. I slipped the paper labels between the net and the silk, which gives it a very dreamy effect.

Label

Label

Spines Glued to Paper

Spines Glued to Paper

And Cut Out, Next To The Paper

And Cut Out, Next To The Paper

With Contrasting Silk Ribbon

With Contrasting Silk Ribbon

The spines were a bit pinker than the paper (blush beige silk) so I put a green silk ribbon barrier between them – that matches the silk I’m going to use on the slipcases!

The Front

The Front

The Full Width

The Full Width

Then I’ll do a slipcase with more cloth, embroidery, and beads, and insert a vertical glass microscope slide (1″ x 3″, such a handy size as the book is 3″ tall). The front label on the book will be visible through the glass. That way the book can be read without worrying over the beads and such. I’m not sure if I have the strength of character to finish all ten copies of the deluxe-edition book before I try the first slipcase.

 

 

Further Into The Orchard

I had a fierce couple of weeks working on the illustrations for ‘The Orchard of Chance’. I was having so much fun that Prue had to tell me to slow down and have more fun. But here’s what we’ve got so far:

Maeve Swanmaid's Cloak

Maeve Swanmaid’s Cloak

The Mysterious Gown

The Mysterious Gown

The Moonlight Scarf

The Moonlight Scarf

The Stumpwork Robe

The Stumpwork Robe

Adelina's Portrait on the Title Page

Adelina’s Portrait on the Title Page

 

Most of the elements of these illustrations came from paintings and antique and vintage clothing. I’ve bound the first copy of the trade edition (of which there will be 100 copies), and I’m beginning work on the deluxe edition (ten of these – slipcased and hand beaded and embroidered). More pictures of these soon!

Magic Trees

I’m starting on the illustrations for ‘The Orchard of Chance’. I tried to find some magical program or Photoshop action that would turn pictures into embroidery, and ended up with a computer-full of trashware. After cleaning that up, I invented my own.

Ymp Trees

Ymp Trees

(Ymp trees are the Eirie version of pleached fruit trees.)

 

Swatching

I’ve sent the pages to Prue for proofreading, and she’s making a few changes, but nothing complicated. My difficulty is that I do everything in Photoshop, so the pages I send her are jpegs, which I imagine are a bit hard to edit. I’ve put together a swatch card with the fabric I bought today, and some beads. I’m not sure of the proportions, but the card will give you some idea:
Swatches
The beige is silk shantung and the green is a length of antique French silk ribbon I have. A few gold beads for garnish.

Swatches

The darker beige is chiffon, and the blue/brown/gold/olive/gray/turquoise/(and a touch of purplish red) are all more-or-less iridescent net. I want the beige fabrics to be on the bottom, as though you were seeing skin under the fabric.  All these are polyester, sadly. If I must, I’ll buy silk. My secret magic fabric manipulation tricks won’t work as well on fibers that don’t bend.

I have a slipcase in mind, too, with a glass panel that shows the decoration and the title of the book.
I meant to tell this story from the beginning, but I get all enthusiastic and get too far ahead of myself and then have to catch people up. I really enjoyed telling the step-by-step story of ‘Rats’ and I want to do the same thing for ‘Orchard’.

 
(Squeeeee! I’m so excited. My brain lies awake trying to remember long-lost smocking, pleating, shirring, folding, and trapunto techniques. I found two spools of gold metallic thread I’d forgotten ten years ago, and I might have to look up some goldwork.) Stop meeeee!

The Evolution of the Orchard of Chance

When Prue Batten reminded me of a story she’d sent me months ago, I re-read it with my imagination open to whatever visual impressions it had to show me. Prue’s writing, especially in her Eirie novels, is suffused with sensory images: colors, textures, scents. I worked for years as a costumer, cutting and sewing (and occasionally fighting with) fabrics that most people never see – silk and gold tissue so light that it seems just a flash of color in the air, embroidered and beaded jacquard stiff with gold bullion, velvet as smooth as cat’s fur. I also remembered some art beading/embroidery work I’d seen, so I went looking for pictures.

Beading    Beading  Embroidery  Swan Maid

I also remembered “The Art of Manipulating Fabric” by Colette Wolff, and found more ways of adding texture to fabric:

More Pleating  Release Pleats Smocking  Flounces

. . .and all together:

Mixed Media  More Mixed Media  Trapunto, Maybe?

 

The funny thing is, I wasn’t consciously selecting for color or transparency, but you can see a color palette developing, can’t you? And there’s a lot of sheer fabrics. Sometimes my brain does my thinking for me. Wait . . .

The Next Book!

Chatting with Prue Batten a few days ago, she reminded me of a short story she’d sent me almost a year ago that I completely forgotten. I went back and re-read it, and was, as always, enchanted. It’s from the fantasy world of her first four books, and the story was so like many dreams I’ve had that she might have pulled it right out of my brain. The most striking things about the Eirie books, for me, is their watercolor quality and the use of the same qualities I loved designing costumes: the use of color, texture, and light to create a world that is fully alive to all five senses (and in some of her characters, six).

I started to think about the descriptions of the clothing and people in the story,and my mind went into costume designer overdrive. This, to me looks like Eirie:

Russian, 18th century

Russian, 18th century

Russian, 18th century

Russian, 18th century

Isn’t that wild? And there was once a time and place where people dressed like that!! My mind is spinning – more later . . .oh, by the way, the story is called “The Orchard of Chance”.

Floor Globes

I was starting to make a few pocket globes, when I came upon this picture:

. . .and in a spirit of “I could make that!”, I tried making something similar. Here’s my second attempt (don’t ask about the first):

Floor Globe

Floor Globe

Floor Globe

Floor Globe

Floor Globe

Floor Globe

 

Still a bit lumpen,  but I have ideas for others. Next, a matched terrestrial-and-celestial!

Building Things

I feel so liberated by the publication of ‘Three Rats At Sea’ that I’m making a lot of non-book stuff:

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci

The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci's Illustrations for Luca Pacioli's De Divina Proportione

Leonardo da Vinci’s Illustrations for Luca Pacioli’s De Divina Proportione

. . .and the beginning of a collection of the works of Sherlock Holmes and his circle (including Watson’s ‘The Giant Rat of Sumatra’ and Moran’s ‘Heavy Game in the Western Himalayas’)

Holmes Book Stand

Holmes Book Stand

It looks a bit like a picnic table now, but it’ll get fancier. At least I got all the (blank) books done,which takes all the time.

And getting all my papers together for the tax accountant! Ow!

Three Rats Have Landed!

If I do say so myself, I’m very pleased. At least, that it’s finished. Naw, I really like it.

Front

Front

Spine

Spine

Title Page

Title Page

Source and Result

Source and Result

Rescued By Mermaids

Rescued By Mermaids

For the rest, go look: Three Rats At Sea