Midterm Reflection Paper

Kelsie Gaskill
Lit Pub Midterm
I chose to use the Dos a dos book form and Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because it seemed like the perfect literary complement to the book form, and I happen to love the story. As I mentioned earlier in one of my previous reports, I designed my book to appear as two totally separate books united as one, much like the duality present in the character of Dr. Jekyll (Mr. Hyde being his counterpoint).I, of course, thought the conception of this project was an amazingly creative idea, but I’m sure that I haven’t been the only person in the world (of book arts) to think of such a thing, but on the chance that this has been done before, I’d rather not know. I will now discuss “both” books.
As far as the design for Dr. Jekyll’s portion, I tried to make that appear as traditional and formal as possible. I used InDesign almost entirely for this section to create that traditional effect. I also used the typeface Blackadder because I felt that it would best resemble his handwriting (which was important to me because I wanted this book as a whole to feel like a journal, since in the story, the characters are revealed mostly through letters rather than live interactions). I also used Bodoni MT because I felt that it looked professional, (as Dr. Jekyll would being that he is a doctor) yet old in the sense that it looks like it comes from an earlier time period. I also put a stamp on the colophon page because I wanted to incorporate another graphic besides the potion on the cover ( I also thought the stamp itself seemed appropriate in its design with the ink well and quill). I really like how the pages and text turned out, but I have to say that it took me forever how to figure out how to print them front to back pamphlet/booklet style, and I still didn’t get it quite right. My original idea was to fix the dimensions of the pages (which took longer than I thought), and print the pages, then glue them to a clean sheet of paper and photocopy them so that it would look like they were printed front to back. I wish I would’ve tried this first, because in a way, I wasted time trying to achieve this same effect (that worked) trying different things that didn’t work. Anyway, moving on to the cover. I thought this would take me forever to design (I am no whizz at using InDesign and Photoshop), but to my surprise it didn’t. I found the image that I was looking for fairly quickly, I made adjustments to it, and I made ten copies of it, then pasted it to the red paper that I used as my “backbone” (the red represents unity through blood since Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde are one person) of the dos a dos form. In terms of the title, I didn’t change it much from the original title of the book, but what I did was to include only part of the title for the Dr. Jekyll portion and I saved the other part for Mr. Hyde’s portion. I’m happy with how Dr. Jekyll’s section turned out, despite the additional amount of time that I had to spend on it.
I had the most fun designing Mr. Hyde’s section, but I expected that. I don’t like using the Creative Suites just because I’m a novice and I also generally hate using the computer unless I have to. Nothing in this section was typed or created on a computer, so this part is much more creative and because it was made mostly by hand, is closer to me, meaning that I had a physical/emotional connection to it. I finally found the perfect material to use as the cover, and so used burlap, which I had no idea came in the size of paper. I did of course have to cut it down to the dimensions I wanted (like I did for all the paper I used), but I was thrilled to discover that Michael’s had the material that I had envisioned using for this part of the project. I cut the pieces out, then glued them to the red paper (the “backbone”) and I used my letter stamps to stamp in black the title “And Mr. Hyde.” I like these stamps because they resemble cursive, which is how most people wrote at the time this novella was published. I also changed the ink color from red to black because black showed up better on the burlap than red. I also used my xacto knife to make three cuts on the burlap because I wanted it to look used and worn, plus a little crazy like Hyde himself, which is how I based every design decision. I also dirtied up the cover to represent Hyde running chaotically all over the dark and dirty streets. Going with my desire to give the Hyde section more of a tactile, wild feel, I used handmade pages that looked old-timey and I handwrote the passages I wanted to use. This, obviously, took hours, (especially since I added a passage so that both sections would be balanced in my use of two physical pages), but I knew that I had to do it because I liked the effect of the handwriting (It seemed more human, which although Hyde is supposedly not, he’s always seemed more human to me than Dr. Jekyll. I also tried to write fast so that it looked like the character was in a state of chaos and fear). The sewing was the easiest part (for once) and it really helped that I switched out my yarn for embroidery floss.
This project challenged me because I had to use a lot of recently-learned skills to construct it, but that was part of the reason why I chose the book form. I wanted to demonstrate that I could fold, sew, use the proper tools (bonefolder, awl, etc) that I needed effectively, design on the computer, do math, practice good typography, and make appropriate passage and material selections.
While I know that I spent a lot of time on the book, I still feel as if it doesn’t look that way. It still feels like it may need something more, but I don’t know what I would add to it. If I’m really being nitpicky, I would’ve liked to add something to fill the void in the inside covers, but that of course would’ve required more time, which I barely had to begin with. I wish I could’ve found a way to stretch the book form more than I did without taking away the duality of the nature of the form and the content. Maybe if I had more time to plan, I would’ve figured out a solution to this, but even as I write this, I can’t think of one. I liked that I was able to find a picture of a test tube for Dr. Jekyll’s cover (since that does of course reflect his action of making the potion and drinking it, then transforming), but I would’ve liked to add a graphic to Mr. Hyde’s section to enhance the already tactile experience of his portion of the book. With that said, I’m generally happy with how the book turned out, and I’m proud of the effort that I put into it. On a side note, I have to add that I worked so closely with it, that it even affected my dreams. In one of my dreams, I was the apprentice of a mad-scientist and had to kill my employer in order to save my family who I had wrongly brought as his test subjects. So I feel like I know this story on a different, deeper level, being as consumed with it as I was, and perhaps, that I know it better than I ever wanted to.


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