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

One thought on “Copper plate books

  1. Pingback: Copper plate books | – ✄ – - ✄ – the smallest forest – ✄ – - ✄ –

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