“You urge me to make a new work from the old.”
~ St. Jerome to Pope Damasus I, 382 AD
The process of making this book rattled around in the back of my mind for several years. It was in August of 2017 after seeing the extraordinary Book of Kells at Trinity College Library, at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, that I became inspired to print the images of the paintings on goat vellum.
Now mind you, in 800 AD, when the world’s oldest book and Ireland’s most famous illuminated manuscript was completed, animal skin was so much cheaper and more available than paper.
Not so in 2018! It became clear to me early on that I was going to need assistance in creating this tomb of an artbook. It takes a village.
So, the paintings, the writing, all took years. The making of this artbook was accomplished through the artistry of many masterful craftspeople. I was very blessed in being connected to not only a lovely woman whose MFA was in handmade bookmaking, but then, through her, was also connected to the contacts needed for making a leather-bound, letterpress-set, goat-vellum-printed work of art.
Once the paintings had been digitally photographed, they were ready for printing. I had to order complete goat skins from New York. An extraordinary printmaking studio in Oakland, CA, had the facility and equipment to print on goat vellum – a somewhat ornery material to print flat with an image so as not to distort it.
Then an artist who made handmade paper needed to be found, as well as the perfect letter font dies for the text, and the perfect press for setting the haikus in letterpress.
Once the prints were printed on the goat vellum and the letterpress haikus printed on the handmade paper, chemises (portfolios) to hold each one of the eight images and their haikus needed to be made. Each was covered in a beautiful Japanese linen that I chose and ordered, as well as each individual chemise edged in Italian leather, the color to correspond to the color symbolic of the archetype it housed. The chemises were then lined with colored paper that matched the edging of leather, to secure the image and its haiku within the chemise. The book cover of the text, All Is Chosen, was also covered with the same linen
and edged in a different color leather.
Finally, a box to house all of the eight separate chemises and the book of text itself was made. It was covered in a russet red leather, with the All Is Chosen title embossed on the cover in four layers of gold leaf, two each of white and yellow to add a depth of richness. The letters were embossed using the handmade dies chosen to match the font within the text of the book.
It was, finally, complete.
~ JOHN DEMERRITT ~
~ JOHN DEMERRITT BOOKBINDING ~
Here is a series of four short videos I took on the day I went to pick up the two finished handmade books.
A compilation of my life’s work, the legacy I am leaving for those who might be interested .. you can perhaps imagine the feelings of anticipation and fulfillment that were welling up inside of me.
John DeMerritt is a master in his field. I am honored and deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him. He magically brought to life my long-held vision, and executed his craftsmanship with not only respect but love and joy.
Explains Leather Edging
Gold Foil Embossing
~ TALLULAH TERRYLL ~
~ MAGNOLIA EDITIONS ~
Tallulah is yet another master artist with whom I had the honor to work. Her skill facilitated not only the laying out of the images on the goat skin, but also her keen sense of color in translating the tiff images onto the vellum was immaculate.
Calm, centered, focused and methodical, she made the very challenging task of transforming goat skins into art pieces appear effortless.
Her mastery brought the archetypes to life with the timeless quality of antiquity that only true vellum can radiate.
The Vacuum Press
Printing on the Vellum