Back in Palawan Natalie taught me how to bind books. I brought in my experience with timber, and we made scores of fancy journals covered with salvaged timbers. Here in Darwin I only go back to bookbinding when I feel like it, when someone wants something special, or a new idea inspires me. One day a boatman from a pearl farm out in Elisabeth Bay gave me a pair of pearl oysters: “Kris, here you go. You make things. Make something out of this.” So I made a book with oyster shells as covers.
Spine looks fancy, and fancy it is: tanned skin of barramundi, large commercial fish found in the river estuaries of Northern Australia.
Text block is based on a standard German codex, sewn in signatures, clamped and glued, then sewn again to a strip of leather for strength.
Nacre dust is toxic, so any sawing, grinding, drilling and polishing needs to be done with care, preferably wet.
Tanned barra is glued to the leather mull with contact cement. Fish skin is much stronger than hide of land animals and it needs no maintenance. And, no, there was no pearl in this particular oyster.
Photos by Nat from smallestforest.net