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Granta Books Commission - Cynan Jones

This recent commission from Granta Books was the third bespoke binding I had completed for author Cynan Jones. The first commission was in 2014, for his novel The Dig which is a haunting, poetic novella which documents the hard lives of two solitary men in Welsh sheep country. One a sheep farmer whose life is interwoven with 'the big man' who operates above the law as badger baiter. The brief was to make a beautiful book bound in full leather as a gift on publication to Jones. His editor had a strong idea of the book being bound in black leather and white lettering, symbolising the colours of the badger. Sadly I have no photos of this early binding. The second commission was for the following novel Cove in 2016, which is an intensely observed tale about survival at sea. This book was bound in white leather with blind tooling on the cover using a wave design. The edges were speckled blue, with hand sewn headbands and marbled endpapers.

This latest commission was for his novel Stillicide which takes place in the near future, when phases of extreme weather have plunged Britain into an alternating cycle of flood and drought. The dictionary meaning for the word stillicide means "a continuing dripping" or "water falling in drops". For this binding I decided to hand-design and paint the endpapers to compliment the title and theme. I started with some tests, playing with watered down watercolour paints onto different types of paper to give a stained look, like water running down a window pane. I also wanted the colours to fade into each other, choosing shades of yellow to grey. Once I had the tests out of the way, I painted up the final design on some watercolour paper. The book was covered in grey leather, with the title simply blocked on the spine in silver. The cover was kept clean and minimal so that the endpapers made an affecting appearance on opening. The edges were speckled and the headbands hand sewn in silk, both in colours to produce a harmony with the endpapers and the block of grey seen on the cover.

Now I have to remain patient for Jones's next novel. In the mean time I encourage you all to read his novels which reveals humanity in all its beauty and sorrow.

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