My newest commissioned Arctic binding was just finished. The project started two years ago and I had to wash the entire 300 pages of this 18th century book as the pages were dirty and moldy. It took me more than two months just to wash, flatten and conserve all the pages before the binding could commence. The binding is bound in the full French technique that I was trained in. The French Reliure d'art technique is considered the most refined and beautiful bookbinding technique. I was happy with the way the design turned out. I was also trying out my new decorative panel technique I called "Faux Ammolite" to emulate the northern lights effect. I hope I have achieved it if you see it in person and panel animates and sparkles with colours under light. The egg shell panel turned out beautifully too. They all fit like a puzzle. Interior flyleaves are lined with my own special marbled paper.
Shakespeare's King Lear printed at Roycroft shop 1904. Full leather design binding by Robert Wu. Bound in full green leather with simple blind tooling and titling in 22k gold leaves. Inset " Faux Ivoire " panel created by me and framed with leather strips. Interior marbled paper by Robert Wu. Housed in a linen covered folding box. Book dimension. 8 1/2" × 10 1/2"
Youtube video presentation.
Mason's The Four Feathers. First Edition 1903
I am very happy with the way the design came out for this binding. One of the requirements from the commissioner was to incorporate white feathers and British flag in the design. The book is bound in full French technique with gorgeous navy blue leather. The design utilizes traditional gilding in 22k gold, palladium, and various coloured leather onlays and eggshell panels I made. Inside covers are lined with beautiful Abalone panels framed by leather strips and flyleaves lined with cork gold paper. Like all of my bindings, I incorporate with my own marbled paper in turquoise. The top edge of the book is coloured in navy blue with my own special "glittered edge" effect. The standing board edges and headcaps are gilded in gold leaves as well for that extra tour-de-force details. The titling is done with this beautiful Art Nouveau Typeface with palladium and 22k gold. The whole book is housed in linen covered folding box lined with red suede. Here is a youtube video presentation of the binding.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland First North American Edition 1866 Appleton. Designed and bound by Robert Wu, Toronto. It will be on display at the New York Antiquarian Bookfair opening on March 8. What an honour to have worked on this iconic precious rare tome! The design is my own take/twist on the traditional Cosway binding style where portrait cameos are incorporated on the cover. I didn't want to compete with the iconic images by Sir John Tenniel so I thought it was best to honour the original illustrations by showcasing them right on the cover. My geometric design somehow ties everything together.
The binding is in full French technique. It's covered with gorgeous red morocco goatskin. The original covers in red cloth and gilt images were falling apart. So first I removed the cloth from the boards and preserved and lined and bound them in with the bookblock. The edges have original old gilding on them so I left them the way they are. Handsewn headbands in red, blue, yellow silk threads. Various coloured leather onlays were used to decorate the covers. I managed to create and invent this "Faux Ivoire" panels to great success. It also sparkles with fairy dust to add a touch of magic! I also incorporated with eggshell panels on the cover and mother of pearl on the inside of the books. Flyleaves are covered with my own delicately refined red bouquet marbled paper for a touch of elegance. The gilding and toolings are done with 22k gold leaves and soot. The book is housed in a linen covered folding box lined with suede.
I think the end result looks very elegant and timeless. Here is a video of the binding.
George Babier's masterfully illustrated book "Fetes Galantes" was published in 1928 in Paris. It contains over twenty exquisite pochoir plates. The book is in large quarto format measuring 9" x 12" without the binding. I started this binding 3 years ago and have been working on it intermittently. It's my favorite and most lavish binding to date. This book is copy #974. The open covers measure 20" x 12".
The binding is bound in exquisite rare French cyclamen goatskin. The grey doublures are covered in French chagrin leather. The headbands are done in purple, fushia pink and lavender silk threads. The top edge is gilt in 22k double gold with gaufferings in purple and pink. The cover leather onlays utilize different techniques to create various textures, and gilding is done primarily in 22k gold and palladium for the plumage feather. Standing squares of the boards are also gilt in 22k gold leaves. Inside doublure covers, two round eggshell panels are inlaid into the boards. I made the eggshell panels with special green eggshells and also added flakes of gold leaves (sunago). Flyleaves are lined with corkskins and my own hand marbled paper. Chemise and slipcases are also covered with my own marbled paper, lined with lavender suede, velvet and purple chagrin leather. Titlings on both the box and binding are all done in palladium leaves. Additional folding box is lined with vintage Japanese turquoise silk yuzen fabric and exterior covered in German linen. I hope I don't miss many other tiny details...
It's been a long journey since I started working on this binding of my own. I have huge admiration for George Barbier's illustrated books/drawings. So much thoughts, cost and labour and skills have gone into making this sumptuous binding. When I first saw the pochoirs in the book, a vision came to me. An image of the women with a fan in front of her face peeking through. It's a gift from above that I must fulfill and realize without changing a thing. Pictures are worth a thousand word. Here is a youtube video presentation of the binding.
Natalie Goldberg's " Into This World ". Woodblock illustrations by Clare Dunne. Printed by Sialia Rieke, copy # 37 / 50, 2011.
This beautiful spiritual book is bound in full yellow chagrin leather in French technique. Decorated with various coloured/textured leather onlays. Tooling in foil and 18k gold. Handsewn silk headbands in brown, yellow and green. Inside marbled endpaper by the binder as well. Cork gold flyleaves. Housed in a pull apart solander case in Danish millimeter style, covered with German linen and edged with grey leather. The book measures 8" x 5 1/2" close.
Primeval Gods by Christopher Sandford. Illustrations by Blair Hughes Stanton. Printed 1934 at the Boar's Head Press. Copy no 84 / 150. Book measures 5 1/2" x 9". Bound in yellow leather with various coloured leather onlays and tooling in blind and colour. Marbled endpaper in yellow bouquet by the binder. Folding box covered in linen and lined with cork. The design is inspired by Stanton's beautiful Art Deco woodcuts in the book. I love how everything turns out.....it's available for sale through www.karolkrysikbooks.com
" La Tete Or " by Morina Mongin. Designed and bound by Robert Wu, Toronto 2017. This binding is made for an upcoming exhibition at Laure and Éric Busser's bookstore in the Latin Quarter in Paris from March 21th to 31th, and then at their booth at the Salon du Livre Rare au Grand Palais from 5 to 9 April 2017.
Morina Mongin is a Paris based fine binder who wrote this little poetry book about us the bookbinders/gilders...She is the creator of La Reliure Contemporaine and invited a small group of fine binders working in the great French tradition to bind this little book for the salon.
My inspirations for this binding are Japonisme and Chinoiserie - when the East (my heritage) meets the West. Stylistically, it's naturally fitting for me and very appropriate for this occasion as it is the first showing of my binding in Paris, France. I am thrilled to be part of it and was told that the show will be featured also in the French book magazine Art et Metiers du Livre!
The book measures 5" x 5" x 1/2" thick. It is bound in the French simplified style. The spine is covered with red goatskin and titled in gold. The headbands are made with yellow calfskin. The cover boards are covered in white goatskin with onlays of various decorative coloured leather. The inlaid eggshell panels are made by me as well and added with sunago (gold flecks). Inside marbled papers in red are hand marbled by me. The top edge is coloured in red and gauffered in gold. I decided to make a Chinese/Japanese style folding box with bone clasps. I love this type of traditional Chinese folding box because it reminds me of layering quality of kimonos and origami. It's covered with gorgeous Japanese silk/rayon fabric and lined with cork and gold flecked Japanese monigami paper. The overall folding box measures 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 1" thick. I am very happy with the way everything turned out. The designs were executed and composed right on the covers without using any template for this binding to keep the spontaneity and improvisation alive! It's more fun that way and I hope I have achieved design of timeless quality.
A beautiful Hawaiian album constructed by me entirely from scratch. The 38 vintage photos of Hawaii were washed and removed from an old album that was falling apart and the papers were extremely acidic. I washed, removed and flattened and mounted them on beautiful thick paper with deckled edges. Title pages and colophon were also created and laid out by me. The album is bound in forest green goatskin leather with inset panel of leather collage depicting Hawaii Diamond Head volcano and its lush shoreline in the 19th century. Housed in a red cloth covered folding box lined with moire. The finished album measures 12" x 16". For Contact Editions of Toronto.
Mao's little red book. Just finished this commissioned binding. It's bound in red morocco leather with various colour leather onlays. All three edges gilt with gauffering. Handsewn silk headbands in red black yellow. Cover tooling in 18k gold and colour foil. Inside cover with sunken yellow suede and cork flyleaves. Endpapers with marbled paper in red and yellow and gold by me as well. Housed in a red cloth bound folding box lined with yellow suede. Book dimension: 5" x 4" closed.
Design concept: Red soldiers marching on with little red books in hand and flags forming the black mountain like silhouette....Mao is depicted as the rising sun in the background.
For Justin Schiller Rare Books USA
Just finished this commissioned binding for Fisher Rarebook Library of University of Toronto. The book is about it's former director Richard Landon. The design of the binding is inspired by the library's extraordinary interior. (it's ceiling, floor and elevation plans). The binding is bound in Fine Morocco goatskin and inside lined with suede and cork paper. Marbled flyleaves are made by me. Handsewn silk headbands in yellow and red. All edges colored in brown with gold sprinkles. Toolings done in 22k and 18k gold leaves and foils. Housed in a linen box lined with red suede as well. The finished binding measures 9" x 5 1/2". Collection: Thomas Fisher Rarebook Library.
Bound in blue goatskin. Colour leather onlays and gold/blind tooling with surface gilding. Edges sprinkled with 3 colour silk headbands. Marbled endpaper in grey bouquet by Robert Wu as well. Housed in a olive green clamshell box lined with elephant paper. Design concept: I want to show David's life as a bookseller and how books enrich his life . Can anyone see the city skyline formed by the books on the bookshelves in the background? The hidden message is this.... Books are David's life and he built his "empire" or city with books. Books are his life.