Jurassic Park Guest Book

A client was in need of a large book to be used as a guestbook at the Burning Man Festival.

The request was for an ancient looking book with the Jurassic Park theme. It would be used for short stories, poems and whatever else the artists in the camp added to it. 

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The Details

The pages are 80 lb. smooth text weight paper, which is great for graphite, ink and other mediums. This is the same paper I use in my own sketchbooks because of the thickness. It’s thin enough to allow the book to have a lot of pages but thick enough that you can’t see my hard handwriting come through the page to the opposite side.

The paper was hand torn using a deckle edge ruler to give it more of a natural and worn look. The deckle edge further acquires an even more pleasing worn look as the book is handled over time. The paper was then hand dyed with walnut ink to age it.

Pages drying after being stained with walnut ink.

Pages drying after being stained with walnut ink.

The endpapers are handmade papyrus, which were also dyed with walnut ink to harmonize the endpaper with the text paper. The papyrus was also torn by hand along the edges to create the “tattered” look that was requested.

The book is covered in lambskin, using leather dyes to create an aged look. The cover has raised designs styled so as to lend to a primitive look, as well as to create texture, along with small burned and dyed circles to break up the raised design.

The corner straps, hinges and main decal are cowhide. This creates a variance in texture and depth of colors. The corner leather straps are notched onto the board to allow for a more secure attachment. The hinges themselves went through several design stages. They went from Japanese Ninja-like to 16th Century fleur-de-lis Gothic and then I finally settled on a spearlike design that fit the more primitive look.

Corner strap made with cowhide, stained with leather dye.

Corner strap made with cowhide, stained with leather dye.

The dinosaur design was based on Chipp Kidd’s original logo for the Jurassic Park book. Chipp Kidd’s logo was also used by Sandy Collora for the movie logo. I used a woodburner to burn the dinosaur into the leather. The outline of the dinosaur is burned away so when you touch the dinosaur, you can feel the edges. I then used leather dyes to create an aged look. Blue was used for the dinosaur because the Park logo was blue in Crichton’s original story.

Staining the cover.

Staining the cover.

The binding is an Ethiopian Coptic stitch which dates back to the 2nd century A.D. The monks in Ethiopia would use this binding on their sacred texts. The book was sewn with seven ply waxed Irish linen thread. Most books are sewn with three or four ply thread. Seven ply was used for two reasons:

One, the design shows up nicer on the stitching because of the thickness.

Two, seven ply's thickness adds a bit more space into the spine which creates a thicker spine in comparison to the fore edge. This helps when things get placed into the book: papers, photos and other ephemera, which, without adding more space/thickness in the spine, might have caused the book to become bulky and not close well.

The style of binding and thickness of thread allow for things to be added into the book and have the book still lay flat when closed, while maintaining the integrity and strength of the spine.

Ethiopian Coptic Stitch, with seven ply waxed linen thread.

Ethiopian Coptic Stitch, with seven ply waxed linen thread.

Coptic headbands were sewn (image below) which strengthen the structure of the book and add an extra layer of design.

Handsewn Coptic headband

Handsewn Coptic headband

The book was waxed and buffed in areas where natural hand oils might collect overtime, giving it a more aged and used look. As the book is naturally handled it will become buffed and used in those same areas, adding to the nicely aged look. 

The book is just over 9" x 12" and has 480 pages.