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Bookbinder of the Month: Mark Cockram

August 17, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


Brush Up Your Shakespeare is a limited edition accordion from the Piccolo Press in New York. The text is a combination of music and words to the song Brush Up Your Shakespeare from the musical Kiss Me Kate (which is inspired by The Taming of the Shrew) and includes charming illustrations by Seymour Chwast.

Mark Cockram bound a chemise in full leather fair goat with a stylized image of a pair of pouty lips. The dye was applied carefully with a brush. The doublures double as a pocket which hold the first and last pages of the text. The doublures are hand-printed using soft plate off-set and colored with a layer of worked cold gold.

BrushUpYourShakespeare4-MarkCockram BrushUpYourShakespeare3-MarkCockramBrushUpYourShakespeare5-MarkCockram

You mention that you weigh down the lid of the clamshell box for your miniature books. How do you go about doing this?
For Brush Up Your Shakespeare I made a two tray drop back box. The box is the last thing to be made and the first thing to be seen. It protects, it informs and I like to think of the opening of the box like the parting of theatre curtains. The box sets the scene, it can hint at the contents, tantalising us, making us want to see inside. The opening and closing, the fit of the book can tell us, from the very outset the skill of the maker.

I have made a number of miniature books and bindings. One of the common issues is the opening and closing of the box. The way the air is expelled as the lid closes and the slight tug of the vacuum on opening. This is not only down to the accuracy of the box, but also the weight of the materials involved, the bigger the box the heavier the overall weight of the materials. The smaller the box the more difficult it is to keep the lid closed, it has a habit of just popping open that fraction of a mil. One way to counter this is to use magnets. I do not like to use magnets for the simple reason that magnets attract metal particles (it is in the nature of magnets to do this). These metal particles can, in turn begin to rust leading to all manner of issues.

I prefer to use lead to gently weight the upper lid. After varnishing in a metal lacquer I place the small piece of lead in a recess created in the upper tray (this is done in the construction) the recess is covered on one side by the outer case of the box and the inner lining of the upper tray. Simple and very effective.


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    My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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