Monday, April 27, 2009


These are pics from my first foray into bookbinding. I was in a four-day workshop learning eighteenth-century French commercial binding techniques taught by Jeff Peachey. Awesome!

The above are pictures of the sewing frame, where the text block gets sewn together.

These chords will be laced into the boards to make the front and back covers of the book.

The above pictures are of the covered and laced book. The frayed chords above are laced into the boards through three holes and then pasted down. Historically, I leaned too late, they would not have been pasted. Oops.

This is the spine covered in vellum. I pared down this parchment to back the spine; it's shaped like a comb and attached between the chords. You can see the signatures (groupings of folded pages) and sewing through the skin. Cool!


I used a plough (or "plow?") to trim the edge of the text, according to historical practice. But I messed up in two ways: 1., I forgot to make the covers a little bigger than the textblock (squaring the boards), and 2., I trimmed it at a skewed angle. Crap.

So I trimmed the text block further and removed the old boards. I then attached new boards and laced them more simply. I trimmed them after this.

This is while I was sewing headbands (small decorative bands of colored thread). This took a while. You can see that by this point we painted the edges of the pages red.

Subesequently, I messed up on paring down the leather to cover the whole book. This frustrated me because I got the parchment pared down, and leather is thicker and softer. But no dice. So I can't learn all of bookbinding in one weekend. But I did learn a lot and it was a rare and amazing opportunity!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Scribal selections

This is a mezuzah I wrote. It's actual size is about 3 x 3 inches. Below are sections of two mezuzot that are magnified for detail.
Sometime soon I'll elaborate on the creation of these really small scrolls.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Now on Fox: Antelopes Gone Graphite!

Yes, that's right: a Giant Sable and an Addax, everyone's favorite antelopes. I drew these from mounts at the American Museum of Natural History, or, as I like to call it, Heaven on Earth.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Masiakasaurus sketch

I just wanted to put up this old sketch of Masiakasaurus knopfleri. I've had second thoughts about the raised second toe, but when I drew this - a long time ago - I went for what I thought would be a noasaurid look. Oh well.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Velociraptor sketch

Just a Velociraptor mongoliensis. I sketched this extemporaneously with no skeletal references, so please forgive innacuracies.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Look Ma, No Arms or Legs!

These two torsos are from the same sketching session at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both were done using 2B mechanical pencil lead in a .5mm Pilot mechanical pencil on Fabriano paper, and the amount of time for each was not too relatively disparate. However, the difference in the results is clearly huge.

Two main differences I noticed in the process were the lighting and my use of a tortillon. The top sculpture was much better lit; the second sculpture was lit by various sources including skylights, which made the resulting shadows muddy. Concerning the tortillon, the Fabriano paper I used is highly textured yet does not hold the graphite strongly, which makes it, ironically, and excellent paper for the use of a stomp or tortillon. The paper + graphite really beg for smoothing.

I have done many drawings without a stomp or tortillon but I felt unable to work without it in this case. I didn't want to resort to it for some reason; I wanted to achieve every effect with just my fingers and a pencil. I didn't use a stomp or eraser on the lower drawing, but by the time I got to the point you see above, I just felt it wasn't worth finishing. So I moved on to the other sculpture, and I like the results.

But I'm still not satisfied. I will post a drawing of the second sculpture and it will be finished and we'll see how it works. Maybe it will be on different paper so I don't feel as required to stomp. Any thoughts from you all out there?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Statuesque Two: Electric Boogaloo

More statues. This bronze was from the American Wing at the Met museum, but unfortunately after I drew this the wing closed for renovation. Since the drawing is already a year old, I probably won't finish it when I get back to that sculpture gallery.

Here's a torso that I'm not too happy with. I tried tinted paper with white highlights to capture the gleam of the marble but my shading came out too chimeric. Capturing the intricacies of the chipped marble didn't help the piece, though I thought it would add interest.