I saw these words on a computer printed sign in the mechanic's office at the VW dealership at least 8 year ago. It made a huge impression on me. I've always been a get-it-done person sacrificing good quality for just getting the thing finished. I have had to learn to take the time to do it right. This was one of those projects.
Then I search google books and found it here. Once I saw the whole thing - I coveted a copy for myself. The book? La Pratique et Demonstration des Horloges Solaires. Got it? Yes, well, for those of you (like moi) whose French consists of one semester, that would be The Practice and Demonstration of Solar Clocks, aka sundials. Printed in 1624, the book was written by Salomon de Caus and is full of movable parts. Salomon and his brother Isaac were famous in their lifetime for designing and engineering water works for the royal gardens. The Library Company of Philadelphia has two of their books (sadly not this one): one on the mechanics of water works and the other on the harmonies of music. Both are beautifully illustrated but neither has any of the movable parts I was hoping for.
Say what you will about the digitization of everything but do I love it. This is the only way I can find a gorgeous book and see the whole thing without actually traveling to whatever crypt-keeping-organization is holding it under lock and key (not all of them of course, but some...) and beg to be allowed to see it. A search of WorldCat reveiled that there are only copies of it in England and France. That is a bit of a commute. And never - never! would I be able to take the book home and sit in a comfy arm chair to "read" it. But I can on my iPad. I can download the entire thing and view it. That is nothing short of fantastic. FYI - AbeBooks.com currently has three listings for first editions of de Caus books. Price range? $4, 500 - $46,000. Not exactly in my budget.
I am a tactile person and since I am a book binder, well - I just had to try to make one of my own. The book is in the public domain and the digital version is licensed for private use. I downloaded the pdf, opened every page in photoshop, saved every page as a jpeg, made a little mock up of how many folios I wanted in each signature, opened InDesign, and plonked the jpegs in place on the correct pages. No sweat. It only took all night, but I was so excited to be able to see the whole thing by turning actual pages I just couldn't stop. The next morning began the quest for the correct paper. I wanted something that looked like old handmade paper - even if it was machine made. Long story short, in the entire city of Philadelphia there was none to be had.The closest I came was to some Canson Ingres paper at the Drexel art store. But they only had 11 sheets and I needed 12. I was too excited to wait for the right paper and maybe here is where everything started to go wrong? I ended up using my Mohawk Superfine stash, 11x17 sheets. This was an acceptable compromise because the original book is 15" tall and my printer can only print 13" anyway. Fast forward to printed, bound and guillotined, I had the satisfaction of having the book in my hands. Wonderful. Each page is new discovery of some gorgeous graphics.
End bands were added of course - any excuse for those.
with the cover.
the drama unfolded.
How to cover it? Which paper to use from my substantial stash? I finally settled on this orange piece of paste paper I had made. See 'cause it looks like sunbeams...
The Spine. I wanted a leather spine. I had some blue goatskin, calf skin and some clothing leather. The goat was too short, the calf was the wrong color, but the clothing leather was just right. Pared it, constructed the case, put the spine on and then groaned at the thought of having to try to print: La Pratique et Demonstration des Horloges Solaires on the spine. Okay - why should I have to? It's my book for personal use - who cares? I think the book did.
I settled on On Sundials for the title stamping.
It stamped beautifully on paper, but the gold would not stick to the clothing leather. Not for love nor money. Nope.Okay - start over.
In my paper quest, I had come across an incredible ultramarine paper. It was so cheap - $3 a sheet! I bought ten. Did that work with the paste paper - meh- it was okay.
Okay - Make new case again, and get ready to stamp. Stamped crooked. groan sigh. Make new case again. Stamp, the text is not centered on the spine. Ask myself - oh can't I just live with it? If it really bothers me in the future - I can redo it. Look at that gorgeous paste paper and think, nah, I don't want to waste it on something that isn't perfect. So - make new case again, Stamp. This time the text is not centered in the opposite direction. By this time the type had gotten hot enough and been used too many times so it started to bend and was also stamping the edge of the type, which was ugly.
Make new case again. Accept that I must reset type. Wonder if the spirits of the book were disgusted by the English title and so decide to set Horloges Solaires for the spine. It's not the entire original title but it is in French.
I checked and double checked the type position and tested and tested, and while the title was a little difficult because it was so long, it worked. Phew. Finally.
But then, the paste paper just didn't seem right. There was an instinct that said, don't use this. Don't you have something else? And sure enough, after thorough excavation of my decorative paper drawer, there were two sheets of this beautiful Japanese paper I've been holding onto for at least 12 years. Perfect.
With all the case making the boards had gotten a little short at the fore edge, but thank goodness that was an easy fix in the guillotine. Chopped off 1/16" of the text block and it fit perfectly. I am very happy with the result.
Little pat on my back for sticking with it and getting it right!
Now... I need to do the research to figure out all the pages that have movable parts and see if I can't reconstruct them for this book. Wish me luck.