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Tim Ely

Tim Ely is a book artist who uses the more traditional book form in his
work, but whose decoration goes far beyond tooling and onlays. Most of his
books are one-of-a-kind, written and illustrated by him. The text however is
written in a kind of code which he himself developed and while having no
clear meaning is open to any form of interpretation.

What sets his bindings apart is his use of mixed media, mostly acrylics, on
what can still be considered traditional leather bindings. His bindings
function as such too. After creating the body of his book, he will often
begin decorating the leather BEFORE covering. What he has done is had
printing blocks made up from images of his artwork, or "text" and them
pressed them into the leather at extremely high pressure on an etching
press. These blocks can be made from any camera ready artwork and are
usually made of magnesium or zinc. This technique has even worked with very
low relief etching plates and engraving plates. The block is mounted in the
press, and the leather thoroughly dampened. It is then laid on with a solid
board behind it to get the full pressure. This process can then be repeated
moving the relative position of the block on the skin to create new patterns.
The immense pressure used in this process ensure that the impression holds
it's shape as the leather is worked over the boards and the headcaps formed.

Either before or after this step, he can then apply acrlyics with a roller
over selected areas to color it, the amount of acrlic determining how much
texture the the paint will have. Dilute acrylics in can also be poured into
the impressions made into the cover and allowed to flow randomly or
manipulated. They can also be built up with a brush. Foils (gold, silver and
any other imaginable color can be selectively applied with a tacking iron to
the surface, leaving the impression unaffected.

To make decorated papers he uses the same blocks he pressed into the leather
to make rubbings on Japanese paper using wax oil crayons. Many individual
rubbings can be combined to form one design. He then might also make a
pastepaper over this allowing the rubbings to shine through. What he has
also done is to make copies or laser print on thin tracing paper from both
sides and then brush acrlyic medium on one side. When dry this can be
applied as an onlay with a tacking iron at medium heat (experiment).

All these different methods can be employed building up a compound design.
The beauty for Ely is that there is a process of discovery and concealment.
He often includes scrapes of his prints as fill-ins in the covers and then
covers them over with another endsheet which he will also decorate. For
those who haven't seen any of his bindings, he has recently been written up
in Bookways, and The New Bookbinder which is the annual Journal of the
Designer Bookbinders. He has also collaborated with other book artists most
notably Daniel Kelm who is worthy of another story...
| Peter D. Verheyen, Rare Books Conservator, Cornell University Library |
|                B-39 Olin Library, Ithaca, NY 14850                    |
|     <wk> 607/255-2484 Email: pdv1@cornell.edu <fax> 607/255-9346      |
                                || ||
                               ooO Ooo

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