Giving a Book Its Cover

I arrived under steel-gray skies in Seattle this past Sunday afternoon and hustled from the airport straight to the Seattle Art Museum, which I'd never visited before and which would close a scant two hours after my arrival. It was that afternoon or nothing since I was scheduled to leave the next morning for Tieton, a small town on a small square on the other side of the very unsmall Cascades. SAM's Bierstadt is to die for. It was a brief but rewarding visit, and as the doors locked behind me and I stepped out to the corner of 5th and Union with my suitcase, the rain began to fall. It rains 158 days a year in the Emerald City. I knew this, and still I left my Gore-Tex at home.

IMG_0254.JPGAlbert Bierstadt, Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast, 1870, Seattle Art Museum

My destination the next morning was the offices of Lucia/Marquand, the venerable book production company engaged with designing and managing production of the Amon Carter's landmark book on the watercolors of Charles M. Russell. It was great to put faces with the names and voices of the staff there I'd been working with for months on end. After lunch, Jeff Wincapaw (the books' designer), Melanie Brauner (a book artist), and I piled into Jeff's truck to traverse the Snoqualmie Pass east to Tieton--a trek that at the summit was a bit of a nail biter!

IMG_0262.JPGInterior of the Lucia/Marquand offices in Seattle

IMG_0274.JPGSnoqualmie Pass is the largest of the three east-west mountain routes across Washington State that are kept open year-round

The Russell book will be available in two editions: a Limited Edition (500 copies) and a Collector's Edition (250 copies). Both editions printed last month, and we received an advance copy of the Limited Edition in Seattle this week--fully bound and finished and gorgeous! (The full shipment will arrive in the Amon Carter's warehouse next month.) Advance copies of the Collector's Edition arrived, too--only they arrived unbound and unfinished, and they arrived in Tieton. All as planned.

IMG_0341.JPGAn advanced copy of the Limited Edition with its designer, Jeff Wincapaw

Besides being located in the heart of Washington's apple country, Tieton (pop. 1,232) is home to the book-arts building, Paper Hammer Studios, established by Ed Marquand in 2007. This is where the Collector's Edition will come into its own gorgeously finished state. Over the course of the next three weeks, it's here that each of these 250 copies will be hand-bound in Zaragoza goat skin, blind-stamped with Russell's signature on the front, the title stamped in gold on the spine, and each copy fitted with a custom-made linen slipcase.

IMG_0331.JPGIMG_0351.JPGPaper Hammer Studios, Tieton, Washington

Along with these fully printed but coverless copies, known as book blocks, all the materials that will go into their finishing arrived in Tieton as well: the board stock for the hard back, the endsheets, the tanned leathers that will complete the two-toned cover, and the linen cloth for the slipcases--all in their raw uncut conditions.

IMG_0314.JPGThe unbound book blocks arrived in Tieton late last week

IMG_0284.JPGMelanie Brauner, book artist, inspects the darker of the two leathers that will cover the Collector's Edition

IMG_0292.JPGThese boards will be cut down to 12 x 12 inches, then wrapped in leather to form the hardcover books

IMG_0296.JPGA roll of linen cloth that will be tailored down to cover the custom slipcases

IMG_0304.JPGMaria Solorio and Melanie Brauner cut down the endsheets on a board sheer

IMG_0328.JPGBrauner prepares to cut out a piece of leather for a board

I'll be posting pics (with fewer words!) of the Collector's Edition as it comes together. And I'll likely post some extraneous things, too, because, well, I'm in a book-arts studio after all, and there's a lot of cool stuff around.

If you have any questions about either Russell edition, feel free to email me at will.gillham@cartermuseum.org. To order your copy of either edition, email sales@cartermuseum.org or call 817.989.5007.

The price for the Collector's Edition is guaranteed only through December 31, so order today!