goatskin, handmade paper, cotton embroidery floss, gouache, colored pencil 21.3cm x 14.7cm x 2.8cm
A book bound in human skin is born out of a grim situation. Rarely is there a provenance for the person whose skin is used to create such a unique object, however a story within Dark Archives emerges on how the skin of a dying immigrant woman ends up on three bindings within her doctor’s collection. The story of Mary Lynch is just one of many who have been taken advantage of for the sake of curiosity or the search for medical advancement. Yet sometimes these horrific human experiments do lead to treatments that benefit humankind. The mushrooms illustrated on this binding are varieties that grow from decaying organic material. Their extensive root system runs below the surface to deliver nutrients pulled from the dead to sustain the living plants nearby. The lives that were taken have progressed practices of gynecology, furthered research on the human genome and virology and helped to create treatments for polio and HPV amongst many other advancements. However, this can not outweigh the manipulation and horrors bestowed upon these humans solely because they were deemed inferior or outsiders by medical professionals. Mary Lynch’s doctor cared so little for her life, he allowed her body to rot away from the inside. Then upon her death removed her skin without her consent and stored it for decades before having it used to bind three medical texts on women’s health. Anthropodermic bibliopegy is a contentious subject that Rosenbloom navigates with compassion. My goal was to create a design of equal merit that did not serve to sensationalize.
goatskin, buffalo skin, handmade paper, eelskin, vellum, cotton embroidery floss, colored pencil16.9cm x 26.5cm x 2.8cm
When designing for such an iconic text, my goal was to create a binding that didn’t immediately read as The Raven. The binding must be fully open to get the full sense of the story. The design captures the raven mid-flight on its approach to the bust of Pallas (also known as Athena, goddess of war). Both elements were created by layering different materials and textures. These pieces were then embellished with embroidery and colored pencil. They are set to a backdrop of a rich blackberry that has been slightly sanded to evoke a soft velvety texture. Upon opening the binding, one is presented with an interpretation of Night’s Plutonian shore (also known as river Styx) or the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. This is done by layering together different styles of paste papers against a stone marbled paper for the fly leaves.