I am slowly but surely trying to get back into the rhythm of my blog
posts, but this has already been interrupted by a great trip to
Barcelona last weekend (more about this trip in a future post!).
It has been all about eggs the last couple of weeks: drawing them,
carving them, printing them (and waiting for them to dry!), dyeing
them, cutting them out, sewing them, plus, last but not least, a trip
back to my childhood making crispie cake nests and eating them for
One of the latest books that I am working on is a Celtic Cross
Press publication from 2013, ‘A Thrill of Pleasure’, featuring
selected poems by William Wordsworth taken from an early
edition of the complete works of the poet. The text block has twenty
poems, and there are eight wood engravings by Rosemary Roberts
printed amongst them in grey-blue ink.
The poem that accompanies the above image, and that particularly inspired
me when reading through the text block, was the following:
“THE WILD DUCK’S NEST
The Imperial consort of the fairy king
Owns not a sylvan bower; or glorious cell
With emerald floored, and with puerperal shell
Ceilinged and roofed, that is so far a thing,
As this low structure – for the tasks of spring
Prepared by one who loves the buoyant swell
Of the brisk waves, yet here consent to dwell;
And spreads in steadfast peace her brooding-wing.
Words cannot paint the overshadowing yew-tree-bough,
And dimly-gleaming nest, – a hollow crown
Of golden leaves inlaid with silver down,
Fine as the mother’s softest plumes allow;
I gazed – and, self-accused while gazing, sighed
For human-kind, weak slaves of cumbrous pride!”
It reminded me of all of the colourful and patterned eggs I saw on
display when I visited the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in
2013, captured in a photograph I stumbled across when sorting out the
files on my computer last week.
I sketched a quick design layout for the book and the accompanying
sample board, illustrating duck eggs in a nest, similar to the wood
cut print. I then went on to experiment with flicking dyes onto
leather to try and recreate the speckled patterns of the eggs,
purposely mixing together cream and blue leathers for variety. Once I
was happy with the patterns the eggs were then cut to shape.
Smaller eggs were also cut out of the scraps to use on the sample board. I then cut out further linear onlays to build up the ‘nest’ around
the eggs, which were then glued to a dark brown leather and
back-pared. Finally the leather was embroidered with threads to add
texture to the nest before being pasted to the sample board.
Once the leather had been worked on it was time to think about the
endpapers. Due to the fact that the text block contained wood block
prints I decided I would like to print something on the endpapers
using a similar process. I made up lino blocks which were carved into
the shape of eggs, to the same size as those as on the cover design.
To tie them in with the cover design, oil based inks were mixed up in
similar colours to use for the printing.
The eggs were printed in a random fashion onto Zerkall paper, using a
roller to apply the ink to the blocks, then waiting a few days for
the inks to dry between each colour so that the eggs could be
overlapped. I printed a sheet big enough to cut up for use on the
endpapers, doublures and to line the inside of the box.
Once dry, the paper was then cut to size and further embellished with sewn outlines of eggs using complimentary colours.
The book is now in the forwarding stages so there will be further updates of how I am getting on with it is due course. The deadline is in only a few weeks time so I will be busy!