I have begun work on a new series of artist books. These projects are always carried out in my spare time - away from commissions, consulting, and mercenary quilting. I enjoy all of my work (at least very nearly), but artist books allow me to pursue the particular combination of conceptual and materials-driven binding that is most satisfying. This time I have also set myself the task learning a little more about book conservation.
I've begun the rebinding of a 1930 edition of Madame Bovary in the original french, with the intention of preserving the rather dilapidated book and redesigning the case. I am no fine binder (leather? linen, thanks), but will be drawing on my textile skills to hopefully make this an artful binding and homage to Flaubert's masterpiece. I will be periodically sharing my progress with you here to give a glimpse of the process.
The book was published by Louis Conard in Paris in quarter leather with a gilt head and faux raised cords. The end papers are beautifully marbled, and the book has striped headbands with a matching woven bookmark. The pages have all been opened.
These antique fabrics will be dyed and used in covering the new case. From the top down they are french lace, a cap, handkerchief, chemise, curtain, bed linen, and petticoat. As you see, my concept has much to do with the cosseted, domestic world of 19th century womanhood. By using these layers of personal and public garments I hope to get at the clash between Emma Bovary's private romantic fantasies and her pragmatic, provincial daily life.
Wish me luck, this book is about to be stripped bare while the textiles go into the indigo vat!