A Decision Is Made

Setting Out

Setting Out

 

It’s medieval. Where else could I steal all those wonderful images of mermaids,  volcanoes, and sea monsters? (Sorry. I just realized the well-wishers were standing in the lagoon.)

Scenery

Leviathan

Leviathan

I’m making the parts of each scene before I cast the book – with the magic of Photoshop, each element of the picture is on a different layer, and can be moved around at will. I have no idea how the pop-ups are going to work, but I figure if I have a bunch of movable parts to play with, something will occur to me.

Medieval vs. Victorian

Are you sure?

Medieval Mock-up

Medieval Mock-up

Rats at Sea!

I’m toying with an idea for a new pop-up book, about three rats going to sea to seek adventure. I know their names (Bruno, Whitby, and Pebble), and their adventures (pirates, volcanoes, mermaids, sea monsters, whales . . .), but I’m torn as to when to set the story in time. I first thought about Victorian (top hat, bowler, and cap) or medieval (knight, squire, and servant), and dove into the bottomless, wonderful online world of illuminated manuscripts looking for research. I’ve just now come up for air.

Three Rats Rowing, 14th century

Three Rats Rowing, 14th century

Pet Rat

Pet Rat

I think rats make great pets. They’re super smart and just adorable, and I’m excited to have them as my heroes.

Back To The Flea Circus

Flea Circuses

Flea Circuses

I just got an order for a copy of “At The Flea Circus” for  The Kelmscott Bookshop in Baltimore, who carry some of my books and miniatures. This book takes longer to make than anything else on my list, so when I run out, I make four at once. It’s pretty epic. Kelmscott describes the book as ‘darling’, which is pretty darling itself.

I was so pleased with this, my first pop-up book, that I attempted two others: “A Pop-up Midsummer night’s Dream” (which was too ambitious and didn’t work very well) and “The Great Bookworm Race”, (which was a bit too high-concept and didn’t sell). I’d love to make another pop-up book, but I may have to resign myself to being a one-hit wonder.

The book was originally published in an edition of 50, and I just finished number 31, so if you want one, now might be the time.

Nightengale’s Catalogue

Nightengale's Catalogue

Nightengale's Catalogue

Here’s the first book of 2015! I’ve been thinking about “Nightengale’s Catalogue” for a while, ever since I started putting their labels on my vampire hunter kits and anything else that seemed a bit spooky. I thought the idea of Jos, Nightengale & Sons, Supernatural and Metaphysical Supplies sounded a bit more in keeping with the mood of the merchandise. So I’ve made a pastische of 19th century printer’s ornaments, with Nightengale’s as the star of the show.

Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a comic opera called “The Sorcerer” in which John Wellington Wells, of J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers appears. Tom Holt used J. W. Wells & Company in a series of novels about the modern version of G & S’s magical supply company, and I’ve founded Nightengale’s on the same idea. I have a whole backstory for Nightengale’s:

The history of the Nightengale company began in the late 16th century, when they supplied Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley with ‘shew-stones’ or crystal balls. The company flourished during the European alchemy boom of the late 16th and early 17th century, and expanded into optical tools and occult mathematical devices as alchemy gave way to modern chemistry and the beginnings of Mad Science. In the 19th century, they achieved, if not fame, at least notoriety, as purveyors of a line of monster abatement equipment. They also began courting collectors of antique metaphysical artifacts, and at one point had almost cornered the market in rare editions of C’thuliana.

After the turn of the 20th century, Enoch Nightengale, then president of the company, became so concerned about the advent of modern rationalism that Nightengale’s catalogs became difficult to come by, passing from hand to hand among the adept, with word-of-mouth their only advertising. The 1889 catalog is the last to have achieved a general circulation, and even copies of this edition are increasingly difficult to come by. To have discovered a copy with the laid-in price list is very unusual indeed.

Traces of Nightengale’s continued existence occasionally turn up. Some printed items bearing their name have come to light from the Infernal Regions (see Welcome To Hell!), and their label is sometimes found on the Vampire Hunter Kits of Bo Press Miniature Books. It is to be hoped that a company as old and storied as Nightengale’s is still around in some nearby dimension, ready to supply “. . .the explorer of uncanny places, magimetician, philosopher, alchemist, monster hunter, or wizard.”

Pages

Pages

Front Cover

Front Cover

Price List

Price List

It’s up on the website now, here: Joshua Nightengale & Sons, Supernatural and Metaphysical Supplies (the 1889 Catalogue and Price List)

Watermelon Planet

I took a few minutes out of shipping ‘Trouvere’, cranking out copies of “The Boston Light’, and waiting for the ‘Fixation’ prototype to get to Johniene (and taking care of my poor busted-up husband, with a new hip and going stir-crazier the better he feels) to take up a suggestion by my friend Melissa to make a dissected globe:

Dissected Globe

Dissected Globe

Given that the wooden beads I use for globes are usually 5/8″ or 3/4″, I started with a sliced globe:

Sliced Globe With Molten Interior

Sliced Globe With Molten Interior

The Whole Globe

The Whole Globe

What fun!

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Prue Batten’s new novel is just published! If you’ve read the first two books in the Gisborne series, run and get this one – the best yet.

Fixation

We’re familiar with the charm of the miniature – it forces us to re-see things we thought we knew and take new delight in them. Johniene Papandreas’ vast, dramatic paintings focus on  small and emotionally revealing parts of classical paintings in a similar way – to see the force and emotional meaning of small things made huge. We decided that making a miniature version of her work was a natural progression of both our work and ideas.

Many of her paintings are elongated, so fitting them in a regular book-shape was a problem we struggled with for a while. After the crash and burn of my Froggy Problem project, I salvaged one great idea out of the wreckage: fold-out pages. Johniene made a mock-up of what the book might look like, with running commentary and source information, that showcased her paintings beautifully. We emailed back and forth about typefaces and color balance, and we’re not through yet, by any means.

I just finished the first prototype last night, and this morning I bound it with some scrap paper to see how it looked.

Probably Not The Actual Binding

Probably Not The Actual Binding

Title Page

Title Page

First Fold Out

First Fold Out

Another Fold Out

Another Fold Out

The Paintings' Real Size

The Paintings' Real Size

I’m so honored that such an acclaimed artist is letting me use her work in this way. I want this to be the most perfect blending of two vastly different art/craft forms ever!

TROUVÈRE Is Here!

TROUVÈRE, Prue Batten’s beautiful and exciting short story set in the High Middle Ages of France, is finally up on the website!

Binding

Binding

More Binding

More Binding

First Page

First Page

Title Page

Title Page

And here’s the description from the website:

Trouvère   by Prue Batten

68 pages, four illustrations
2 3/4″ x 1 7/8″

A short story by well-known historical novelist Prue Batten set in the High Middle Ages of Northern France. Trouvères were the northern equvilent of the Occitan troubadours, a school of aristocratic poets and singers who celebrated the idea of courtly love that was sweeping through Burgundy, Aquitaine, and Provence at the end of the eleventh century.

In Batten’s romantic and suspenseful tale, trouvère Flori de Mazamet is caught between the beauty embodied in his art and the common brutality beneath the courtly ideal. He attempts to aid a lady whose illicit love forces him to make a choice between  love and pity.

I’ve attempted to bind this little book is a sympathetic style, with the pages bound over cords and into wooden boards in the medieval manner. Cream leather is stretched over the spine leaving some of the cherrywood boards exposed., and the book is held closed with a band of matching leather.

‘Trouvere’ is Almost Ready!

This is the final version of Prue’s ‘Trouvere’.  I’ll bind a few and put it up on the website for sale in a few days, and tell you more about the story. Some craziness at home has slowed down work for a while, but now all is serene-o.

Spine and Label

Spine and Label

Spine and Closure

Spine and Closure

More interior pictures tomorrow or so. . . and news about the lighthouse books!