Sunday, April 18, 2010

Calligraphic Genealogy Book


This is a very special package I delivered to my client this past Friday morning.
I was commissioned to create a genealogy, all hand lettered and bound into a leather book for her husband's 90th birthday. His ancestry goes back to the Mayflower! I had two months to complete the book and I was a nervous wreck not having ever created a bound book nor a project that held such significance for a client.

These are just some of the 18 pages from the book.

About the cover of the book. The book binder was reluctant to foil stamp the cover, concerned the texture of the leather would impair the foil. He debossed the design which I later filled in with gold gouache because the debossing was not prominent enough for the cover.
























And finally, the last page. After completing the calligraphy, it was off to the book binder. The binder was to stitch the two signatures I made and bind them in a distressed leather book, then foil stamp the cover image I made with calligraphy and type. When I arrived to pick up the genealogy, I was appalled to find that the binder had made a mistake. She had glued the pages of the two signatures together so that when the book was opened to the middle, the pages stuck straight up! I had explained many times during this process that this book was to be displayed on a beautiful book stand and kept open to various pages. The current binding was unacceptable. I was completely stunned and didn't know how I was going to deliver the book to my client the following day. The binder told me to simply "reprint" the three pages that would be damaged when they redid the binding. Reprint?? She didn't realize the entire book was hand lettered! I redid the pages and returned the following morning to oversee the binding. I rushed home to age the pages and calligraph the title page. Can you say "stress"! In the end, the binding was not perfect, but the client was so pleased with the book and that is the bottom line.

25 comments:

  1. Oh, Lisa, can I just say: STUNNING!! I cannot believe you hand-lettered all these pages without a single mistake! I'd be a nervous wreck!! And then to have the book binder mess part of it up - that's almost too much! I often find that I have to have people explain the instructions back to me so I know they've actually listened and understood! The book is gorgeous and I am sure the family will treasure it forever!! Much love, Silke

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Silke! I was a COMPLETE wreck!!! I felt so much responsibility knowing it would become a family heirloom. I'm pretty sure my blood pressure went way up during the month and half I worked on this book.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What an amazing book! I'm sure you're glad to have it finished too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Lisa,
    Wow! What an accomplishment! The book is stunning!! I'm sure the family is overwhelmed by its beauty!! Congrats!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Incredible, Lisa!!!!! I feel the anguish (cleaned up) you felt way across the country. It would have had me stuttering for sure.

    But getting past the utter............., you must feel apart of this family. Such beauty you've created. What a thrill to now be part of this treasure.

    ReplyDelete
  6. oh my goodness, lisa......this is absolutely stunning!!!! and i am horrified at the mistake of the binder (and as someone who has bound books, i can't imagine this person making such a strange oversight!!).....and then to casually suggest that you "reprint" the pages.......UGHHH!! i was stressed just reading about it, so i can just imagine what you must have been going through! but your hard work paid off, because it's a real masterpiece.....you go girl!! xox, :))

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Jane and Manon! Pam I really did take this on with all my heart and could feel the significance this held for the family. Thanks Lori, so sorry to stress you out too!! I should've had you bind the book : )

    ReplyDelete
  8. You should be so proud of this wonderful work of art. I know what you put into it, the trials and tribulations regarding the binding, but the outcome, which is what counts in the end, is an awesome artistic accomplishment. Gorgeous, girlfriend!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lisa this is just so incredible! Oh wow! I love it and what an incredible treasure! I know they will love it! Beautiful, just beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  10. OMG Lisa! The heartache and the triumph of being an artist (and working for clients!) In the end, a stunning, beautiful masterpiece!

    p.s. I once varnished a painting without testing this new brand & it completely ruined my painting that was sold & on reserve. Talk about the scream that was heard around the world (ha).

    ReplyDelete
  11. ...I'm speechless Lisa! This is so gorgeous...your writing is sooooo absolutely beautiful! What a treasure this is!...I would have had a heart attack right there on the spot when I saw what that binder did! My heartbeat started to race from just reading what happened! "reprint" OMG!!!!
    XO Paulette ;)

    ReplyDelete
  12. What beautiful work, such a very special gift that is priceless. Thanks for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you so much Michelle, Renee, Gina and Paulette. Sorry to cause the heart palpitations!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lisa, I don't even know what to say...this is so amazing and touching. I showed it to Steve and he was blown away. What a wonderful gift and with your lettering...

    I love that they asked you to "re-print" the pages. I guess you would have to find humor in there.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lisa!!! I about passed out reading your post. I think I would have gone into a stress induced coma. You are one cool and collected professional, and the finished result is beyond amazing. I think family trees/genealogy charts are very rewarding work. Your work will no doubt be a treasured heirloom for your client's family for generations to come. Well done!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Spectacular! Now I know why you I why I hardly heard from you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. OH my goodness, Lisa. What a story, what a triumph! Your work is simply top-notch, so I knew that the client was going to be so thrilled. But boy, what a stressful (beyond stressful) situation! I couldn't imagine what you must have felt like seeing it bound incorrectly...I think I would have passed out. This is one of those cherished heirlooms that I don't think anyone will ever forget in that family...well done! Bravo and congratulations on the finished piece!

    Also, I just love the CD cover below - gorgeous! And also the wood-burned Cody piece...how cool is that?!!! You rock, girl!

    ReplyDelete
  18. OMG OMG OMG!!!! I think I had a heart attack and aged 5 years reading your story! I think I would have screamed, and my hair would have turned shocking white right then and there at the binder's. Oh my goodness, Lisa. BUT -- Oh my freakin goodness, this is INCREDIBLE!!!!! I cannot believe all the hard work, hand lettering, beautiful and painstaking care that went into such a family heirloom. A TREASURE! Stunning does not even begin to cover it. Congratulations a thousand times over on a tremendous job. WOW!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh My God. This is so beautiful. I just want to cry. It was a stressful job for you but my goodness, the work is out of this world FANTASTIC! OMG! This is stunning.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I would have completely freaked out! But you stayed focused and finished the project on time and it's beautiful too! Wow!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I found your blog via a link from my 'tatted lace' blogging group, and I'm in a state of shock - on SO MANY levels!!!

    I have dabbled - on an amateur level - in calligraphy and also have TYPED family tree charts, but wouldn't even think of doing them in calligraphy. I'm totally in awe !!!

    Your Spencerian Script is PERFECTION!!! It's my favorite script, and I have so many questions about the type of ink, pen and paper that you used. When addressing wedding envelopes (for friends and family ), I never had input on the type of paper, and prayed the ink and pen would cooperate. Sometimes they didn't!

    The binder's error would have made me catatonic. I never could have 'rewritten' the pages as I'd be paralyzed! I have had enough stress trying just to get envelopes written correctly. This is why I would never hang out my shingle! I love to practice calligraphy, but doing 'real' things is too stressful. Mostly I just decorate birthday envelopes in a fancy way, which I'm usually doing an hour before going to the party! Also stressful! But I just can't write someone's name on a card in ballpoint pen.

    I'll definitely be checking out all your posts. I can tell you're a very talented artist as well.

    One more note - nothing like having a family tree that goes back to the Mayflower! Congratulations on the honoree's 90th!!! He certainly received a VERY SPECIAL GIFT !!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am SO INSPIRED! I can do this for my family in a much smaller version. Thanks for sharing your talent!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh my, Lisa, I am stressed just reading this but OH MY how beautiful!!! Thanks SO much for purchasing the journal! I just sent it off to you! oxoxox

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow, the stress of it all, which is why I cannot do calligraphy any more!
    I took it so seriously! I found others do not put the care into what we spend so much time on!!!! That binder!!! Jeez!~
    pve

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have to totally agree with some of the above comments. I was stressed just reading this also, especially with the bookbinder! It is absolutely beautiful. How did you know how to lay it out that way?

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking a look. I appreciate your comments!