Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin. Full leather binding; each folio guarded with Kizukishi Japanese tissue, endsections of Stonehenge mouldmade paper with decorative paper marbled by the binder, head decorated with graphite and torn gold leaf, double core endbands sewn with silk thread, covered in Franz Hoffman alum-tawed pigskin, tooled in blind and 23.5K gold, goatskin leather onlays, binder’s signature in blind on the red onlay on the rear turn in.
“For this binding I cut three new brass finishing tools, two in the shape of a book (looking from the top) and the other a representation of a hide of human skin, cut in silhouette with parallel lines. I took care to incorporate the contours created with each tool’s overall outer shapes so that the tooled impressions create interesting elements in the negative space.
The overall effect is not unlike a maze, and in the negative space left by the tooling there are perhaps corridors that one meanders through that may lead to a human skin book, lead to a potential human skin book, or lead to nothing whatsoever.
At the time of this binding (with the results last published May 2019), the Anthropodermic Book Project has conclusively identified 18 bindings bound in human skin—to represent this, 18 of the human skin tool impressions were gilt, with the rest in blind to leave to the imagination the potentials out there that have yet to be discovered, and the random spots where the tool is left out being a part of the chaotic process of identifying and alleged binding, only to find out it wasn’t at all a human skin binding.
I chose to use alum-tawed pigskin, as the follicle pattern of pigskin is the closest to human skin than other binding leathers and I have handled a couple pigskin bindings purporting to be human skin bindings. As well, I opted for a skin that had bug bites, scars, and other imperfections, as I wanted to center that in the life of the animal.” [artist statement]
The onlays at the head and tail suggest the shape of an hourglass and introduce a bit of color and life (or perhaps depth/death) to the binding. (#10814) $5,500.00
N.B. Capturing the variation of the in blind work vs the 18 tilted ‘skins’ was difficult to capture and tonally shifted images are included to hightlight the variation.