Monday, April 30, 2012

How Doth the Little Crocodile - Cover

One of the things I want to ensure for this project is that I have done every bit of the designing for the entire book. For that reason I've chosen to make my own fabric pattern, and have it printed at Spoonflower. It's a great site where I can order custom made fabric. I have a few designs for sale there already. This design is only going to be for me, and only for this project. I'm going to order it in the cotton-silk blend, for that extra bit of luxury, and then make it into bookcloth. I'm going to do the spine in leather.

I wanted a William Morris style design, because it fits the time period of the poem, but adapted to the subject matter. I decided to use leaves in the shapes of card suites (hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs) for the background:

The picture above is of the start of the design process. I pulled some colours from a William Morris print (the little picture to the left), which you can see above. Originally I had a dark blue background, with darker leaves, but it just didn't work very well. Also, I want the spine to be in dark brown leather, so I needed more contrast. I changed the colours around, it ended up closer to the inspiration print:

The final design is of different papyrus flowers, buds, and leaves on a light background. I think it works really well. The only thing I have to decided now is what scale I want it on. I made it in vectors, so I can make the flowers and big or small as I want without losing any detail. Then I can order a test swatch and see what it looks like in real life!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How Doth the Little Crocodile - The Beginning

I have wanted make a book edition for ages. I even started planning one last year (Jabberwocky), but ended up making it as a one of a kind book, mostly because I choose a format that was much to elaborate to actually print with my somewhat limited space and equipment. And for that matter, experience. However, the idea hasn't gone away, and this time I've choose a better poem and format, and I've done several elaborate lino cuts over the past year, so I feel I will have much better success with this one. Also, I've discovered the website Kickstarter, and I intend to put the project up on there, because I want to see what happens if I do. 

Kickstarter is a really cool website that allows creative types to generate funding for their projects - many documentaries and video games get their start through it. Basically it works by people pledging a certain amount of money for the project, and if it gets it's base number, the project goes ahead. This is great for a book edition, because editions are much cheaper for people to buy, so it's more likely there will be a buyer than for my much fancier one of a kind books, I can set the amount of money I need to raise (so I don't have to buy materials without knowing there's a buyer), and I will know how many to make. 

With my project I'm thinking of offering several different items/packages to people who support the project:

Tentative Pricing
$30     A print of the title page of the book, which will be an elaborate lino cut
$80     A copy of the book (a max of probably 50)
$100   A copy of the book and a print
$500   A special edition of the book, including case (max of 5). More to follow about these ones.

Much more on all of that later, but for now that's how it stands. I'd probably set $750 as the minimum price to justify going ahead with the project, since that will cover all the materials and a good start on my time. (And lets be honest, I'm going to put a ridiculous amount of work into this whether I get paid or not, so I'm more worried about covering the cost of materials. But it would be really nice to actually have something to show for the hours too).

So, what is the actual book going to be?

I've chosen a nice short, well-known (public domain, of course) poem: "How Doth the Little Crocodile", by Lewis Carroll, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Thanks for the suggestion Andrea!

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

It's going to be a simple, traditional book style instead of some kind of fancy binding, because that is easiest to print, bind, and ship. The entire book will be hand-printed via lino cuts, some reduction and some traditional.

I've done a bit of research into Alice in Wonderland, and the poem specifically, in order to get some ideas for imagery. Here are a few things I want to play around with:

1. Contrasting scales
2. Things the look like other things, or are only defined by negative space. I'll do some MC Escher research for this
3. Puzzles. This will probably fit into the MC Escher influence

There also some images to include (besides the obvious ones pulled directly from the poem) to tie it into the larger Alice in Wonderland story:

1. Bees. "How Doth the Little Crocodile" is a parody of "Against Idleness and Mischief" by Isaac Watts, which begins with "How doth the little busy bee"
2. Suites of cards
3. Mushrooms
4. And I'm sure I'll think of something else soon...

I've collected a few pictures to get started designing the pages. I've been looking at a lot of Art Nouveau for the period, as well of flora/fauna illustrations, and plenty of other stuff, too, of course. Now to start sorting through it all! Here are a few things I've found:


William Morris designs:

Egyptian designs:

Antique fish:
Mushroom illustrations:

Any feedback is much appreciated, especially if you've done anything along these lines, because I'm just getting started on something completely unfamiliar!