Avocet to Zander

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Bound by Mel Jefferson

Avocet to Zander
An English Countryside Alphabet
by Anne Cathcart
Inky Parrot Press 2003 - 46/112

A limp binding in laminated Hewit's alum-tawed goatskin with pig-embossed grain (outer) and black Nigerian goatskin (inner). Raised lacunose* panels on front and rear covers with added feathered leather onlays, silver leaf and blind tooling. Lettering (title to front cover and author's name to rear) debossed in 10mm squares of silver attached via sewn glass beads. Two-stage sewing: first stage text block only, second stage through the cover and four 'bands' of glass beads. Silk endbands.

As the spine was left single-thickness, the inner laminate effectively constitutes front and rear doublures. These were blind-blocked prior to lamination with designs showing an avocet (front) and a zander (rear) in their natural habitats; respectively over and under water. The animals themselves are rendered in onlaid blue-grey goatskin, thinly pared and applied before blocking a second time to define the relief detail.

The silver squares were milled and polished before applying a 'brushed' finish and two coats of lacquer. The letters were debossed in one corner of the squares and the remaining corners were drilled and counter-sunk to form a seat for the glass beads, which were sewn through the outer leather with silk thread prior to lamination. The words rendered are differentiated by the use of alternating corners and two different types of beads (pearl and transparent).

Stylized bird and fish motifs were blind-tooled with a specially designed pair of hand tools. The impressions were onlaid with strips of dark grey leather before being tooled again.

Raised white and black leather-covered arcs representing the eponymous creatures' environments were inlaid into the lacunose before it was cut into panels. The panels themselves are seated on laminated leather/paper 'bases' which are slightly smaller than the lacunose, accentuating the relief. The bases are both glued and sewn in place to obviate any possible peeling when the cover is flexed.

The flexible structure and unconventional sewing were chosen to empathise with the delicate and similarly unconventional nature of the subject matter and printing technique. The overall monochromatic design was conceived to complement the woodcuts within rather than compete with them. The non-representational outer is balanced by the figurative images on the inside covers.

The three small coloured highlights inlaid in the lacunose panels represent the eyes of the animals depicted within and also serve as a focus for the overall design.

A drop-back box, titled in black on the front, has cryptic designs on the spine and clasp. The lid houses a cruciform folder of miscellanea, concealed by a removable magnetic cushion.

More pictures, including procedural images, can be seen at www.meljefferson.com

*'Lacunose' is a term employed by Paul Delrue for a technique that he has developed involving layering leather fragments and alternately sanding and consolidating them with dilute PVA.
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