Invisible Cities - by Italo Calvino
Harcourt Brace Jovanich, New York, 1974
Private Collection, US
French-style fine binding with laced-in boards. Top half bound in dark grey buffalo skin with bottom half bound in light grey buffalo skin. Various onlays in green leather and suede, ruby faux suede, stone veneer and mutli-layered palladium pieces adorn the top half. Bottom is embroidered in matching cotton floss. Lines tooled in palladium on top half and left blind on bottom half. Edges decorated with graphite. Top half of fore edge and head gilt with palladium. Hand-sewn double cored French endbands. Edge-to-center doublure in dark grey and light grey buffalo skin. Top half tooled in cosmos (front) and dome (back). Bottom half embroidered in matching cotton floss and blind tooled in Cancer (front) and Pisces (back) constellation. Gilded cork paper flyleave. Endpapers are granite Cave Paper and Hahnemuhle Ingres in light grey.
Book is housed in a clamshell box covered with green goatskin and stone veneer. Leather spine embroidered with star in matching cotton floss and onlays matching binding. Title and author's name stamped in silver foil. Trays covered in handmade Katie MacGregor paper in aqua green and lined in ruby suede.
20.2cm x 13.8cm x 2.3cm – Completed in 2017
- Exhibited in Society of Bookbinders 2017 International Competition at Keele University (UK)
- Exhibited in 2017 North Bennet Street School Student & Alumni Show
In Invisible Cities, Marco Polo regales both Kublai Khan and the reader with his enchanting stories on the cities he has traveled. Each tale is filled with wonder, secrecy and symbolism. This vast and rich imagery inspired the design on the binding greatly.
Although I took inspiration from the text as a whole, the cover is mostly centered around the city Eusapia. Placed in chapter seven under the group "the dead" Eusapia speaks of an underground city where the dead mimic the living or vice versa. These opposing forces of truth and falsehood are represented on the cover as well as the edge decoration and the leather doublures.
Read about the binding process
of this book on my blog.