An overview of designing and printing book cloth for New River Breakdown, Terry Kennedy‘s poetry collection from Unicorn Press . You can see the finished book covers from this project at Unicorn Press. Recap part one is here. Recap part two is here.
Taking a dip: Ready to Dye
With five layers of imagery printed and then washed (partially) away, it’s time for the most unpredictable part of this process—the dye bath. A robin’s egg blue mixed with turquoise will take the edge off the brighter colors and solidify the concept of a riverbed patina.
Cutting down to size: Taking the composition from large to small
It’s time to cut the fabric panels down to book cover size so that I can print the last layer–the book title. First I wanted to make sure the smaller compositions would work well and that I didn’t need to add additional layers to the background patina. I cut a piece of board to the final book cloth size, moving it around the panels to see if the resulting small compositions were interesting.
Final touch: Printing the title
The last stage of the process–it’s time for the title. I wanted a visual for the title print that’s organic to tie this layer to the more subtle background textures already printed. I also need a bold, clear design so that all the covers read as the same in spite of the variation in the cloth. After working through several designs and sharing them with Terry and Andrew, we landed on a layout using a silhouetted branch that wraps around the front of the cover to the back. The title is printed in a metallic gun metal giving it a slight pop, while making it more organic than a solid black ink would be. I love the way the branch, once cropped, mimics a river cutting across the page.
The process doesn’t end here…
After I turned over my book cloth for the New River Breakdown project, Andrew took over. Each book in this project is being handmade at Unicorn Press. My version of the book cover is the hardcover version, so Andrew’s work includes ironing the cloth I delivered to a special backing paper–converting it to usable book cloth before finishing the binding process.
The finished books are lovely, the linen held up beautifully throughout the process and makes for a wonderfully tactile reading experience. And at long last the other artists translations of the same book are revealed:
You can see all the cover designs and find your own copy of New River Breakdown from Unicorn Press’s website and learn more about the other artists who participated in this project on Terry’s website, just click on the “The Team” tab at the top right of the page.
It’s been a great experience. I enjoyed the opportunity to do something new and the challenge of working so large and then so small on the same project was unique. It’s neat to see how other artists interpreted the same material in different, interesting ways. Most importantly, seeing such positive, creative energy in the community is wonderful and encouraging.