Into This World by Natalie Goldberg. Woodblock illustrations carved and printed by Clare Dunne, hand tinted by Sialia Rieke. Text hand set and printed by Sialia Rieke. Santa Fe, New Mexico. 2011. #21/50.
I wanted to capture the femininity of the poem & illustrations in the design, as well as the strength of spirit necessary it takes to become one with the world, dying with grace: “let us die/ gracefully/ into this world”. I also wanted to convey the sovereignty of nature over our lives, and that it will be here when we are gone, beautiful as ever. The waxing and waning moon is at once an expression of nature itself interacting (drawing the waves up) within the world, a physical representation of the constant change in the world, as well as a metaphor for the progression of the human life. It is also meant to strike a chord with the overall tone of femininity.
The death explored in this poem is not about the pain that often comes before death, but rather a celebration of the transformation of the body and the spirit in its continuation of being a part of this world, in a different form: “…let us […] not hold on/not even to the/ moon/ tipped as it will/ be tonight/ and beckoning/ wildly in the sea”.
The suede flyleaves pick up the impressions from the doublures, resonating with, and bringing to mind the first two stanzas: “let us die/ gracefully/ into this world/ like a leaf/ pressed in stone”. The continuity of the six horizontal ruled lines keep everything connected. They span both boards and spine, wrap around the board edges, onto the doublures, and (in their way) continue onto the flyleaves.
The book arrived in sheets and was sewn on frayable tapes with waxed linen thread, rounded and backed to 90 degrees, then laced into boards. The edges were ploughed, and double-core silk headbands were sewn. The spine was lined with Japanese tissue, then with suede and sanded smooth, then a hollow of Ruscombe Mills “Chateau Vellum” (handmade 100% linen paper) was attached. The covering leather and that of the doublures are buffalo leather from the Remy Carriat tannery in Espelette, France. Leather hinges were put in, and then the doublures. The covers are tooled in 22K “moon-gold” leaf (22 karats of gold with equal parts of palladium and silver), as is the rest of the tooling except the dotted lines on the doublures, which is tooled in 23K gold leaf for a little contrast. The pig-suede flyleaves were put in, and the book was pressed to transfer the tooled design of the doublures onto the flyleaves. The book is housed in an archival quarter leather clamshell box, lined with ultrasuede. Bound in 2015.
Doublure and flyleaf.
Detail of tooling, relief onlays, and the grain of the leather.
Illustration from the text.
Into This World