book artists — inspiration

I have to admit, I’m not very familiar with specific book artists yet. And when I looked on my shelf for books I particularly like, I realized I was picking out books that I liked for the interior or cover design (thank you, typography) and not the book

I wish I knew a good place to browse in person, but after a quick Google search, I found the Book Arts Web at This led me to Jill R. Berry. She has this adorable “Tree House/Book House” with handmade books inside. It’s a whimsical and also looks very textured and touchable, and I enjoy things that have an added texture to them. I also like her piece “At the Playground” which features tinker toys as a frame for the book. Her website is here:

There were a couple specific pieces by Peter D. Verheyen that I also enjoyed. He’s made an “Interpretation of a 1579 Italian limp tacketed ledger style binding” that I liked looking at, because of the materials, the binding style, and the historical tradition. He photographs the creation process here: The other piece of his that I liked was a version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. I admit this caught my eye initially because it’s one of my favorite plays. The description said he’d disbound a 1st edition which I had mixed feelings about because, while I like the idea of taking an old binding to use for a new book, 1st editions seem particularly special and have an added historical value. However, I like the outside texture and the thought behind the design. The product description states that, “The individuals whose names are stamped into the cover were persecuted for their political beliefs during the McCarthy Era. The black leather bars represent the hundreds other persecuted individuals not listed by name.” Here’s a photo of the cover: There’s more about Verheyen’s work here (which is also where I took the quotes):

I will also say that, despite not being familiar with any specific people who make these kinds of books, I appreciate the inventor of the “board book”. I spend a lot of time with toddlers and it’s really nice to be able to sit with them and open a book with pages that are think enough that 1) energetic toddlers can’t rip them and 2) little fingers can turn them more easily (they’re also easy to clean). There are lots of classic children’s books that had previously been published with the thin paper pages that have since been republished as board books, so it’s nice to sit with a young child and share a book I grew up with, without having to worry about them accidentally destroying the book. I like books that are beautiful, like the examples from Verheyen and Berry, but I also like books that are easily portable and don’t shy away from a little abuse. I think, as I look towards the semester, I’d like to try to make a mixture of both.

1 comment
  1. Thank you for being struck by my bindings – the interpretation of the 1579 ledger and The Crucible. As a book conservator by training and collector I am very cognizant of the value of original bindings. Rest assured that even though this is a first edition, the cover was missing the back board with part of the spine… Had it been in good condition I would have made a box with the same design or similar… Cheers, Peter.

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