Copper plate books
A few years back I played a bit with copper plate. I bought an old hot water cylinder in a scrap yard, cut it up, polished the plates and started engraving it with a burin. Little pictures as illustrations for my “Bestiary”. Local art centre had a rolling press for hire, so one weekend we spent inking my plates and printing them in their workshop. Results were short of spectacular, by a large margin, technique is messy and unforgiving and after half a dozen plates I chucked it in and moved onto something else. Engraved plates reposed in the bottom of the trunk until a few weeks ago, when I decided to turn them into book covers. After a lot of thinking I figured a way of attaching the copper plate to the text block and following pictures are the result.
“Amphisbaena”, a two-headed lizard, about 6 inches tall book. Spine is goat skin.
“Leontopontes”, legendary insects collected, dried and used to poison lions in the middle ages. Spine is a tanned barramundi skin. Height about 6 inches.
For some of the plates I still have the matching first prints.
“Capricorn” is a larger plate, about 8 inches tall. Only one print survived, but refused to be photographed.
“Mermaid” has a complex history. Originally Nat’s drawing for my “Bestiary”, I re-drawn it in Japan as a street arrist, then used a copy to engrave this plate. Paper in the journal is Tintoretto, spine a goat.
Prints are naturally a mirror image of the plate.
The last copper book is a salvage, aboriginal printing plate saved from the copper scrap heap. Spine is tanned barramundi.
I cut the etched plate in half, drilled stitching holes into the edges and sewn the text block between them.
Photos by Nat from smallestforest.net