Crossing the Bench: Custom Enclosure For The Book of Hours (14th C.).

We had the awesome opportunity to make an enclosure for a lovely Book of Hours.  A Book of Hours is a Christian devotional book that was popular in the Middle Ages, and is the most common type of surviving Medieval illuminated manuscripts.  Each manuscript is unique, but most contain prayers and psalms, and most have limited illumination or decoration such as capital letters.  Books made for wealthy patrons are extremely lavish with full page miniatures

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The particular book we built an enclosure for was most likely made for wealthy patrons as it has six full page miniatures, and other smaller miniatures throughout the book. The book was most likely rebound in the 1800s, but we suspect the original binding was jeweled, because of the markings and empty spaces beneath the leather. It was so tempting to lift the leather on the cover to have a look, but we resisted.  But seriously, I'd love to see what is under that leather.  

We were commissioned to make a folio sized enclosure with red leather, Medieval in style complete with a leather braided head band, and brass clasps. This was such a fun project to design and make. Medieval leather tooling is one of my favorites! 

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We wanted the center panels to be unique just as the Book of Hours are. I decided to recreate two images found within this particular book: The Crucifixion on the front cover, and the Resurrection on the back cover.

Applying the cuir ciselé technique I drew the images in the leather, then glazed the images with paint and shell gold (22k).  I'm pretty happy with how the center panels turned out, and I feel they represent this special book well. 

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I made extra long clasps to add another dramatic element to the enclosure, which is also period appropriate as long strap clasps were the foremost fastening mechanisms in this books time period. 

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Just as the binders of the past left their marks, our makers mark can be found within the tooling design.

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