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An Imperfect Light

About the Project

This year kicked off with a fantastic project that was commissioned as a gift for the author! In early January, I received an email asking if I’d be willing/able to create a one-of-a-kind edition, designed specifically with the author in mind.

I am always thrilled to get work like this because I feel that this is one of the foundational motivators for me as a bookbinder. I work on countless books throughout my day, often for personal libraries of special collectors. While it does not happen very often, I personally love creating special books for the authors who wrote them. There is something hermetically balanced about doing this and I always derive great joy in the finished work.



To achieve this design, we rely on an old and seldom practiced technique in the worlds of both traditional & contemporary bookbinding: cuir-ciselé. Working with veg-tanned sheepskin, we’d carve the design on the front cover, then dye it Forest Green. The client also requested a decorated border to be stamped on both the front and back covers.

One of the main reasons cuir-ciselé is often avoided is simply due because of how time-consuming it is. While the design is relatively simple, drying and wetting the leather repeatedly takes a few days to fully work itself out.  The leather needs to be 100% dry before any coloring is applied.



The result was a book that was both elegant and tasteful, with a boldness that strikes character in any shelf it sits on. As a large-format book, approx 8.5″ x 11″, it sits well in the hand and feels lovely. This book was commissioned as a gift for the author’s personal library. We were honored to work with the raw manuscript that the author worked on herself. She’d already sent the manuscript to her publisher, however, this book was created as her own special edition.

We are excited to begin working with you. Boston Harbor Bookbindery is experienced in designing custom, one-of-a-kind books for each client.

Whether you’d like to restore a family heirloom, re-bind a personal favorite, or print a book from scratch; we have just what you need to make your dreams a reality.




Full leather binding | Printing | Gold stamping | Leather tooling