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Blaylock/Powers Bibliography update (Read 2081 times)
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Blaylock/Powers Bibliography update
19. Feb 2007 at 23:18
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Part I:

As some of you dedicated Blaylock fans may be aware, I've mentioned before my cmprehensive dual bibliography of Blaylock and Powers, but it's been quite a while since I posted any update or other mentions.

I hate it that I'm now no better than some of those darned New York publishers that have diddled about, not publishing the long-awaited Blaylock books that we've all been salivating for during the past couple of years.

In any case, my delay is perhaps due to completely different reasons -- I simply bit off a whole lot more than I could chew, rather like back in childhood when you bit off a giant hunk of bubblegum, only to realize to your chagrin that not only could you not manage to clasp it into your jaws sufficiently to give it the first chomp, but you very nearly didn't have enough saliva to even soften the damned thing up enough to make it chewable in the first place.

So, this acknowledgement of over-reaching myself is a rather shameful admission of some hubris on my part, and an intensely bad estimation of how long it can take to do something.

When I planned the book, I expanded on my initial plan of just doing a Blaylock biblio to include Powers, since there's a ton of overlap. The two authors have co-written books numerously, and they've each added forwards, introductions, and afterwards for each other's books all along the timespan. So, I thought it wouldn't be too much of a stretch for me to encompass both of their bibliographies in one go. Further, I had envisioned inclusion of all the foreign works by each, which further complicated matters. Both of these decisions extended out the research phase considerably, and added complexity to the whole thing.

Also, I intended to include thumbnails of the book covers wherever possible, and the scanning of them all took weeks on end.

I should mention that all through this, I continue working at my day job, which is all on its own very challenging and time consuming. So, whenever I mention work on the book, picture me puttering away at it in the wee hours of the night, until about 2:00 a.m. during the first year to year-and-a-half of this project.

Expanding the scope of the works covered was not the worst of the lot. I enjoy doing artwork and crafts, and so I looked upon this as an opportunity to learn a new discipline: bookbinding. This was the decision that has placed the worst dent upon the time required.

Learning to sew signatures of pages to go into the books was fun, and after getting the hang of it, not terribly difficult.

But, the hardest part of it all is the piece of craft that I have the least related experience with: leather binding. The leather is duecedly expensive. It's sold only by the entire goat hide, and leather in bookbinding grade is fairly expensive, going for something like $90 to $130 per hide. I initially bought a few hides, experimented to see how much was necessary for the book covers. After figuring I could make three covers per hide, I sent off for the rest.
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Re: Blaylock/Powers Bibliography update
Reply #1 - 19. Feb 2007 at 23:20
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Part II:

Apparently, the first hides were from much larger goats. The subsequent hides only rarely were large enough to provide three covers: I'd grossly underestimated, and must now purchase even more of the hides. My book supply house let me know that I'd now ordered more than they had on hand, and they must send off to France for more. We might even have to wait for them to kill more goats, and allow time for the tanning process.

At last, I had all the leather on hand. The mounting process is very time consuming, requiring me to cook up batches of archival wheat paste, suffuse the leather with it, and then place the bookboard perfectly onto the damp, sticky leather. I should mention that the leather expands considerably when pasted-up, requiring some degree of cleverness to ensure that the bookboards are placed correctly so that the covers will align and be sufficiently spaced apart when the cover dries.

Then, the covers must be dried under weights, changing out blotting paper with some frequency over the course of days or weeks until they are completely dried. Sounds simple, but this poses some logistical problems when you're doing this in your home. I'm sure my sister got somewhat irritated at having my dining room completely taken over by the drying book cover stacks.

The leather preparation and drying took months! Measuring leather, cutting it, marking it up for placement of the boards, cooking batches of wheat paste, mounting boards, placing weights and blotting paper -- all of it is quite involved. I managed to complete this for the limited deluxe editions during my Christmas vacation.

When I returned to Texas in January, I took the dried covers to a local bindery to perform the gold foil stamping -- the only real part of the entire process I'd decided to outsource. The bindery held the covers for some weeks, and they've now sadly called me up to let me know that the covers warped slightly while waiting, and they are a bit too curved to place in the stamping machines. It's natural for the covers to do this, for I'd only mounted the front sides of the boards, and when the leather draws back as it dried, the boards warped a bit after the drying was completed.

So, now I've got to work on them, and go ahead and do the turn-unders of the cover edges, and paste up the back sides of the boards to counteract the warping.

So, that's my status report. I've had another small setback, and now I'm still working to complete the books. I daren't estimate how long this will take!

During this neverending project, other parts of my life must still progress, and they impinge on my time to work on the books as well. I oversee a chaotic degree of technical development work for my company, and I've got about half a dozen professional speaking engagements across the country in the next few months. Not to mention, occasional family obligations and such. So, I'm not at all sure how much longer this will take: I just know that I feel the end is in sight somehow, and I'm too committed to give up.

You might ask why I don't farm out the book bindings at this point? Valid question -- the problem is that I've already well exceeded the budget for the project, and if I incur much more in the way of expenses, it would price the darned books rather too high in my estimation. Catch 22. So, I'm sticking to the original plan, though the learning curve to master the bookbinding arts has been far steeper than I'd ever imagined.

Anyways, it's got some nice stuff in the pages, so I think it'll be well worthwhile for collectors and fans.
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