Crossing the Bench: Custom Enclosure with Fore-Edge Painting.

A few months ago I posted a video of a concealed fore-edge painting I did on an old book.  This sparked an idea for a client of mine who quickly sent me a text asking if I could do a fore-edge painting on an enclosure rather than a book; I said sure why not, and this is what became of that text.

First of all the tooling on the leather cover was too much fun; it was one of those projects that I just got lost in and spent a few more hours doing than I should’ve. 

The painting on the top fore-edge tray is of the Kirtland Temple before later changes were made to the exterior. The bottom fore-edge tray painting is landscape tying both the top and bottom trays together. 

This was such a fun project; I see more enclosure fore-edge treatments in my future.  


Crossing the Bench: Queen Anne's Bible & Book of Common Prayer, 1709.


We recently had the pleasure of conserving a set of books that once belonged to Queen Anne; she was queen from 1702-1714. She was the last of the Stuarts, the Scottish royal lineage. She had 17 pregnancies with no surviving children of those 17 pregnancies. Only five children were not stillborn, and of those five, four died before the age of two, and her oldest surviving son died at the age of 11. It has been said she may have had lupus, and in her later years of life she became depressed and extremely obese and suffered from gout. Talk about a hard life of pain and sadness! 


This set of books is a Book of Common Prayer, the Old Testament, and the New Testament from 1709. Our client requested we conserve these books, with very little restoration. (Conservation aims to stop any current deterioration of the book, as well as limit further damage. Restoration aims to bringing the book back to its original state and strength as far as archival methods will allow.) We stabilized the bindings, reattached one of the covers, reinforced the hinges, and finished with light leather restoration. We then built a presentation enclosure with a sturdy hard-covered chemise. The cover of the enclosure is tooled to resemble the bindings, with a lovely painting of Queen Anne recessed on the front cover. 


We loved preserving these special books, and now they'll last many years to come. 

Custom Enclosure: The Architecture of A. Palladio, 1721.

We had the pleasure of making this beautiful enclosure for an amazing book:  The Architecture of A. Palladio, in Four Books, 1721.  

Andrea Palladio (11/30/1508 - 08/19/1580), was an Italian architect who to this day is widely considered to be the most influential individual in the history of architecture. 

Because the book is about architecture we wanted the tooling design to reflect that, so we designed a cottage style tooling design, mixing in Palladian architectural features.  All of our more complicated tooling designs begin with a sketch laying out the design.  We hand dyed the leather to a color to match the upholstery in the room this enclosure and book will be displayed in.  The box measures 20" x 13", one of the largest enclosures we've made; it practically used a whole calf skin.  

The project took 51 hours to complete, with 1,941 individual tool impressions. 

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Crossing the Bench: Enclosure for "Response to Modern Gratitude", 1802.

We had the opportunity to build a custom enclosure for this pamphlet, "A Letter from Richard Raynal Keene to Luther Martin. . . ", 1802.  We hand dyed the calf leather we used on the spine and corners of the enclosure.  We used custom hand marbled paper that we made for our period bindings.  

This pamphlet was a response to Luther Martin's "Modern Gratitude", published by Luther Martin in 1802 about Richard Keene.  Richard Keene was Luther Martin's law clerk who fell in love with Martin's daughter Eleonora.  Keene and Eleonora eloped after Martin forbade them from getting married; this betrayal is what provoked Luther Martin to publish his pamphlet about Richard Keene.    

Keene was very hurt by his father-in-law's treatment of his own daughter as well as himself, and while he had previously determined to ignore Luther's insults, he felt that this time Martin had gone too far.  In his and his wife's defense he published his response to "Modern Gratitude".  

Read Luther Martin's "Modern Gratitude:

Here is information about Richard Keene's response, so you can find a copy for yourself.

You can find a scanned copy of Luther Martin's "Modern Gratitude" on Archive.Org. 

Crossing the Bench: Robert E. Lee Photo Album Enclosure

We recently had the opportunity to make an enclosure for a photo album of Robert E. Lee that was put together by his niece.  The book was bound in vellum and over the years the vellum had shrunk because of humidity changes, and therefore the cover was much like a drum and had bowed outward.  The enclosure we made was built up inside to specifically support the cover to allow for changes in humidity but also to help prevent any further damage.

Robert E. Lee (1807-70) was a great General of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War (1861-65).  He was known for his tactical skills, and to this day remains a respected figure in the American South.  

Want to know more about Robert E. Lee?  Check out this book.