This post is a long time coming. I have been struggling to find the time for my work here since starting a full-time job, and moving. The last of the moving happened at the beginning of the month, and I had hoped to be able to get two paintings done in December in order to make up for November's missed painting, but it seems the challenge has gotten the best of me. I have no paintings at all to show for this month. Perhaps I'll do better in January. We'll see.
This isn't to say that I have been idle.
I decided to make my Christmas gifts this year. As I also write and publish fiction, and I had easy access to those books for measurements and fit, and the three family members I was likely seeing this Christmas had my books, I decided to create custom covers for those books. It was a lot of work. I broke all but two of my sewing needles. I gouged a part of one of my fingers out... This project was the literal definition of blood, sweat and tears.
Still, they turned out really well, and I'm quite proud of what I managed to achieve.
Here they are:
The actual cover of Skylark was too complicated for me to be able to replicate in leather, so I opted instead to use the image that was the scene divider in the book. This image is actually a Daemon territorial sigil that I drew specifically for the purpose of being the scene divider, just to have something more interesting than *. I did want to keep the cover colours in keeping with the tones of the original cover, and tried to distress the cover so that it might look a little closer to steel. I'm happy with how that worked, but I realize now that I missed a golden opportunity to include some orange in the cover by making it seem a little rusted.
Still, the end result is pretty good, I think. I'm happy with this one.
Much like Skylark, the actual cover of Human was too difficult to replicate in leather, but a single feature was not. I took the heart on the book cover and enlarged it, approximating both the tone of the book and the colours of the book cover.
As it's a vampire story, I thought keeping the book cover antique-looking would be the best way to go. Actually, my antique stains, hand-rubbed, are my favourite for leather. I don't know why I like it more than solid colours, but I find it really interesting and aesthetically pleasing.
This cover surprised me how well it turned out, actually.
Daughters of Britain
This is my favourite of the three. Not my favourite book, mind. I can't really pick one of those, but my favourite custom cover.
Like Human, the stain on this is a hand-rubbed antique, this time in mahogany instead of black. I figured that since this story is set in Roman-occupied Western Europe, an antique look would be best. To that end, I used my antique stain and painted the title and the hare in blue, and then distressed it, so it looked like the dye had rubbed off some - like the cover itself was antique, instead of newly made. I think it worked really well.
Unlike the other two, the cover of Daughters of Britain was simple enough for me to replicate almost exactly. The hare I had drawn specifically for the cover, and it was fun to transfer to leather for tooling.
The end result for this one is by far my favourite. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.
Like all of my leather works, these custom book jackets were all done entirely by hand - the cutting of the leather, the tooling, the sewing and the staining/painting. All in all, each book cover took me roughly three and a half hours each, from the cutting, tooling, staining and sewing (actually, a lot longer, but I estimate that once I get used to the work, it'll be about three and half hours each). The sewing was particularly tricky, and did leave me both bleeding and in frustrated tears. That shouldn't be the case the more of these I do.
This means, however, that custom book jackets will be quite expensive. Factoring in the materials as well as time, my first estimate put the covers at around $700.00 each. That's... a lot. I'm thinking I can probably significantly drop the price with some creative accounting, and perhaps underpaying myself for the time required. I'm thinking that $350.00 would be a more affordable price, while still ensuring I get paid for my work - more or less.
I will have to think about it a little more before I make the decision on price and open up my store for custom leather book covers.
So, despite failing desperately at my desire to paint one piece a month, I haven't been entirely idle, and the results were not terrible at all.