I forget who said it, but some great mind once opined, “Go where there is no path, and blaze a trail.” While this is great sentiment, there are times I wish I did just do “out of the box” projects. I was working on a one-off Steampunk-themed wedding album, and I could find nothing off the shelf nor readily available to suit any of my purposes. So, I had to create the whole thing from scratch, including sizing the pages, figuring a way to adhere the velvet without ruining the pile, etc., etc. As I told my buddy Dennis during the 4th fruitless search of Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s and Goodwill that week; “God, I wish sometimes I just liked doing kit-crafts.” He chuckled appreciatively; he’s the same way I am about things. What we want is invariably something we can only get if we make it ourselves.
Which brings me to today’s Portobello topic: Doing it the hard way, and Eureka, moments of Inspiration.
Anyone who has held my books can immediately determine that I burn the art into the cover. In itself, that part of the process isn’t too difficult. It requires some practice, a steady hand, good light, and the nerve to wreck a $10 chunk of latigo. The art itself I usually freehand from something I see, on paper, then I transfer it to the latigo, using a scribe and a soft-charcoal pencil. Not over complex, but time consuming, and again, it requires a steady hand.
So flash forward to last night when I was working on a custom book for Brent Zimmerman of Fabulous Massage (up in the Loyal Heights of neighborhood of North Seattle…great therapist! Look him up!).
For Brent’s book, I chose a nice tan, top split with smooth finish, instead of the normal latigo. (Imagine a really smooth, thick suede.) I set everything up, and then spent the better part of 2 hours carefully scribing his logo. When I lifted the template, picture my shock when I discovered that NOTHING had transferred to the leather!! NOTHING!! GAH!
But, my personal motto is “Fall seven times; Stand up eight.” So I thought I would try with a different medium. Crayon. Nope. Marker. Nope. Desperation is setting in. I try black pastel-chalk. Well that’s a big, hot mess. I try this. Nope. I try that. Nada. My evening spent, a nice leather blank wrecked, I watched a cathartic episode of “Mad Men” and called it a night.
When I awoke 2 hours later at 3am, I had the answer. I KNEW how I would not only get the image I wanted on Brent’s book, but how I could make it work for ALL my covers, and be faster, sharper, and allow myself more creative freedom in the process.
Now, what is it, you may ask? Well, here I must smile enigmatically, and say “Proprietary secret, yannow.” But I can’t wait to share the results with you all!