Limited Editon Book
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has been a classic novel since its publication in 1865. I created two limited edition versions of this novel, each completely from scratch. I wanted to stray from the typical childlike nature of the design and pull inspiration from other renditions done on the book and movie. I love the dark motifs present in the Tim Burton Movie rendition of the Alice in Wonderland series and wanted to capture that in this design. Below is the entire process involved in the conception and creation of these limited edition books.
Timeframe: 10 Weeks
Software + Skills
Where it all began…
I selected Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for this limited edition project as it was always a favorite of mine growing up. When Tim Burton released his rendition on the story it regained my attention, quickly becoming a favorite movie of mine. Additionally, I wanted a book that I was interested in creating original illustrations for.
This whole process began by locating a .txt file of the entire book, free of any prior styling. I ended up finding my file on Project Gutenberg and began the daunting task of creating a blank InDesign document and threading the text within the margins. Because Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a relatively short book I was able to make some more luxurious decisions when it came to margins and chapter beginnings.
To the right is a screen grab of the beginning of the raw .txt from which I built these limited edition books from.
For the limited edition book I also wanted to include one of a kind limited edition illustrations. Once I had sketched all of my illustrations, they were scanned and vectorized within Adobe Illustrator (shown in the second image to the left.) The illustrations were then placed throughout the pages and anchored to the body of text.
To begin I wanted to have a small drawing at the opening of every chapter. The first step taken was to refresh my memory on the main events of each of the chapters, which then inspired what was going to be the main focus of the drawing. To create more interest within each of the illustrations I wanted the number of the chapter to be intertwined or interacting with each.
For the full title page I wanted to include a large illustration. It features Alice standing in a large keyhole. Alice is surrounded by large flowers, leaves and mushrooms. Inspiration from this drawing was pulled from stills of the Tim Burton movie of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Mouse tale Illustration
In the original story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the “Mouse tale” in the shape of a tail is a key element in the styling of the text. Along with doing my own rendition of the tail I included a small drawing of the mouse telling her tail. The mouse is perched upon a large mushroom as Alice gazes up mesmerized with her story.
The typeface choice for my entire book was Mrs Eaves XL. The typeface was created in 2009 by typographer Zuzana Licko of Emigre foundry. Licko created the Mrs Eaves font family as a revival of Baskerville, which was designed in Birmingham, England in the 1750’s. Since I wanted my book to have a traditional look with the natural for-edge and slightly off white paper, I wanted to have a classic serif typeface to compliment it all. Mrs Eaves has round counters and a relatively high x-height making it very legible in large bodies of text.
Below I have included the settings for the body text and chapter title. Another benefit of Mrs Eaves is its beautiful small caps, which sold me on including the typeface in the book.
The process began with creating a centered folio with the title of the book on the verso side and variable text, that grabbed the title of whatever chapter that specific page was in, on the recto side. Centered below the running folio is the variable page numbers. I wanted to have a large and luxurious bottom margin for the reader, as well as a slightly larger outside margin. After laying out those two margins I decided on the top and inside margin, making sure the text had enough room when printed. On a KM 1100 I tested multiple margin combinations on scratch paper to make sure that it felt comfortable and natural in my hands. I concluded on the settings to the left.
Once I had all of my text threaded in my decided margins with my chosen font it was time to make some more stylistic decisions. Within my chosen font I decided on chapter title and name styles as well as the overall body and poem styles. Using the H&J settings I justified my text to minimize violations and rivers as well as Keep Options so that all of my chapter beginnings started on a recto page.
Additionally, I created a set of tracking styles. Once everything was settled where it belonged I started the tedious task of removing widows and orphans from the entire book.
Printing & Stitching process
Once the entire book had been scanned multiple times, I determined the file was ready for production. For the final product I selected my stock from Neenah Paper. I ordered Crane’s Crest 80 pound text in pearl white. Since the design has warm hues from the gold accents I felt that stark white paper would clash, and decided on a slightly off white color. Crane’s Crest is 100% cotton, which gave the book a luxurious texture.
Using a Konica Minolta 1100 I queued 12 page signatures and printed the entire book. Initially I made two copies for production. To create a traditional look I trimmed the face before folding to obtain a natural fore-edge. The next step in my process I used a bone folder to group three sheet signatures and double checked to make sure everything was in the correct order. With my ruler and extra large thumbtack I pre-punched holes along each signature to prepare for the stitching process. Once that step was complete it was time to stitch all of the signatures together with a small sewing needle and nylon thread. Below are the process images of what was just described:
Finalizing the book block
After the book had been stitched, I pressed it under a book block and coated the spine in glue and let it set for 24 hrs. Once it was fully dried I cut the top and bottom bleeds off of the book block with a polar cutter, leaving behind a smooth finish and a natural for-edge. Next, I tipped in plain black end sheets, added gold and black headbands and pasted the mull to the spine. Below are the process images from those processes:
Full Bound Case in Process
Now things get really exciting! (and very nerve racking) The book cloth is cut and trimmed to the proper size and marked up to align with the book board. I hit the book binding jackpot and found a limited edition fabric designed in collaboration between the famous Rifle Paper Co. and Cotton + Steel. Adorned with famous scenes from the novel in gold, the Japanese produced fabric perfectly captures the whimsical nature of the tale. Once the book board had been coated with book paste and had been given some time to dry, I pasted down the end sheets. I placed two wooded skewers on the hinges of the book and taped them on for security. Two large book blocks were placed on top and sat overnight as the book dried.
Quarter Bound Process
The process for a quarter bound book is almost exactly the same as a full bound book, the only difference being the covering. The spine on a quarter bound book is a different material than the rest of the book. I used the gold screen printed fabric for the spine portion and joined it with a simple black book cloth to cover the rest. Once it had dried I followed the same steps as above to case in the book block.