Sunday, 24 April 2016

Planning the next project - Islamic filigree book covers

For those who've been following the saga of the stick purse/leather dyes over the years, you'll know I tend to pick major projects that will take me several years to complete. That's largely because they usually require me to learn new skills along the way. Since the stick-purse is nominally done (I say nominally since I plan to keep fiddling with the dyes as a background activity), I need a long-term new project.

I'm now officially at the starting line to start what I am dubbing "The crazy, what the heck are you thinking, Islamic filigree book cover project" (Trademark pending). I'll call it the CFP for short (Crazy Filigree Project).

I've contacted the Curator for the Islamic collection at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, where I first saw these crazy books. She's shared with me a paper she wrote on how they were done, along with some really close up pictures of some examples. While the pictures are super helpful, they've also showed me that this project is even tougher than I thought. Not only did they do cut-work/filigree patterns in the leather that are typically ornate for the illumination of that period, but there's leather tooling on the leather, in spaces that are only a few millimeters wide. I have no idea how they managed it, but its scary fine detail.

Here's an example from another source. This is a book from the 15th century. The area that's blue has actually been cut out of the leather and is showing the silk or paper that was placed underneath. The red lines that swirl through the blue is the leather lacework pattern that's left behind from the cutwork.

So, lots to do:
  • Research more on period Islamic/Persian book styles
  • Acquire both bookbinding equipment/supplies and knowledge
  • Work on my filigree and bookbinding skills
  • Develop filigree pattern for the cover(s)
  • Fail several times, probably by cutting the filigree wrong, or slipping with the knife and cutting off chunks of filigree
  • Swear a lot
  • Figure out if I want to add to the complexity by using my period dyes (I'd put money on yes cause I'm that kind of crazy)
I'l probably need to work on this in stages, like I did for the stick-purse and dyes, so several rounds of entries at QPT before the final thing is entered at Kingdom A&S.

I think for this year my goal will be to do the background research, and to work on my bookbinding skills. So for this fall's QPT, I'll try to make my first complete leatherbound book, which I can enter and get advice.

If I'm really productive I might be able to do some sample filigree work on a flat piece of leather, maybe as a scroll blank or something. I'm not going to try to get to that small a scale for my first attempts, but it's a cool enough technique that I bet some people would love it, especially Middle Eastern personas.

The other thing I could do is develop another round of badge patterns but using cutwork instead of standard leather tooling. I bet those would look sharp.

1 comment:

  1. The badges down with cut work should be amazing. I love that idea.