Absolutely amazing polymer clay journals by © Anna Kolesnikova (Mandarin Duck). Take a look at her portfolio, it’s really something.

You can look around in her Etsy shop here.

Also she has a very cool YouTube channel filled with tutorials and all kinds of crafty videos.

Become a fan of her on Facebook here.


I made this gif ages ago but it was too big to publish on Tumblr.

When I found it today and separated it into 3 parts to be able to show it. I think it’s cute. I would chose a lighter and less saturated color scheme if I made it today but I let it be the way I originally made it :)


Embossed bindings in the Loring collection. Many of these, you can see on the spine, are from A. Mame and Company, a 19th century publisher, printer and bookbinding establishment in Tours, France. 

Mame made many such bindings, called “chocolate box” style by some historians. They featured embossing on paper of multiple colors with a window in the covers through which showed a lithograph, often of a young lady or an outdoor scene, which may or may not relate to the contents.

[Crossposted from our Instagram page.]


Six books, one binding

Here’s something special. You may remember a blog I posted about dos-à-dos (or “back-to-back”) books. These are very special objects consisting of usually two books, which were bound together at their, well, backs. When you were done with the one book, you would flip the object and read the other. The dos-à-dos book you see here is even more special. Not only is it a rather old one (it was bound in the late 16th century), but it contains not two but six books, all neatly hidden inside a single binding (see this motionless pic to admire it). They are all devotional texts printed in Germany during the 1550s and 1570s (including Martin Luther, Der kleine Catechismus) and each one is closed with its own tiny clasp. While it may have been difficult to keep track of a particular text’s location, a book you can open in six different ways is quite the display of craftsmanship.

Pic: Stockholm, Royal Library. See the full image gallery here.

Update: This post featured on several art and news blogs since it appeared, such as Colossal, Neatorama and Gizmodo.


Heavenly library

Today I visited the medieval library at Merton College, Oxford as a guest of the Fellow Librarian. It is the UK’s oldest library that was designed to be used by scholars, and it has been functioning as such since its construction in the 1370s. You enter the library at the ground level through a massive door. Going up the stairs you reach the upper floor, where the books are stored. It is sensational to walk among the rows of book cases in the half-lit room. Their shelves are filled with hundreds of early-modern books (many still fitted in their original bindings), which are patiently waiting until someone will touch them again. Heavy benches hoovering over wooden floors are a reminder that this room was once filled with scholars leaning over their books, trying to catch the last light of the day. In the middle of the library a big 13th-century book chest is found, next to a small collection of shiny 14th-century astrolabes. What a heavenly place.

Pics (my own): library, book cases, consultation bench, book chest (13th century), stained-glass window (medieval), and entrance. More information about the library on Merton College’s website (here) and also here; more on Merton College, which dates from the 13th-century, here.

Bound in the Rubble

This was done as a birthday present for the wonderfully talented @kacistar of @kacistardesigns! She wanted something deliberately ugly. Something you’d likely find post apocalyptic! 

First, Paper! Printed out on the archaic printing machine which uses old world power to operate - or so I’m told. We have regular lined, lined with a blank section and end pages.

Children help the process go much quicker.

If You’re going to do something, you might as well experiment. Do something a little different. Like accidentally stumble upon French linked stitching.

The linked stitch does pull everything more closely together - like we must be if we are to survive in this newly decimated land.

I scavenged up some wire! Who knows what the Old-Worlders used this for, but I shall strip the metal from it’s plastic coating and twist it into a usable product!

More scavenging brought me some bleached denim. This will make an excellent covering.

The amount of paper trimmed off two book guts.

Plorp Plorp Plorp! The glue shall make this book STRONG!

Uhhhh strengthening the hinges because… um… I’m an Adult and I can do what I want?

I found some more blue wire to use for headband cores! It’s tough to chew through with my teeth so I may need to leave it long.

A rare ray of sunshine leaking through the radiation clouds let me take this photo. The pretty wires look good on the headband.

Raiders were coming so I had to abandon my work to hide. I was in the middle of making sure the hollow was secure and I couldn’t stay there rubbing it. I secured it down with masking tape.

I reverse engineered a corner template design from this pretty relic that was found.

This allowed me to make more!

The bleached denim accidentally got more distressed and stained some-how. It is still good to use though.

I riveted some metal strips onto it for where the spine would be. Because, again, I’m an Adult and I can do what I want.

I glued the cover on and then I needed to bend the corners so I could add them. I also needed to punch holes for the long headband cores to go through. Naturally those cores would need to be secured to the cover some how - so I had to make straps for those! It was hard work. I worked long into the night…

The book is done…. It’s ugly but it will serve it’s purpose. Also you could probably kill someone with the sharp corners and protruding metal bits. Fun Times.


Medieval skull clasp

You are looking at a tiny book, no larger than an iPhone. Made c. 1500, it was designed for the road: it concerns a portable Book of Hours (or prayer book) that was carried around by a pilgrim on his religious pilgrimage. The object’s size is, of course, not what makes this medieval manuscript stand out. That honour must go to the clasp that holds the book closed, which is decorated with a skull carved out of bone. The theme of this decoration is very fitting for a pilgrim seeking redemption, finding his way along the dusty roads of medieval Europe. Every time he sat down to open his book he was confronted with his future, which looked rather grim: remember you will die one day. Better smarten up and keep on going. And that is what he did.

Pic: Stockholm, National Library of Sweden, MS A 233 (book and binding c. 1500). More images here, but not all information provided there is correct. This article should be taken as a source for further information.