Vellum – John Baptista Porta’s Natural Magick


The book is bound in fine natural unfinished Vellum from Pergamena of New York State and tooled in gold. It has a Royal purple calf title plate and royal purple silk moire end sheets. I was asked to tool the interior of the covers and chose to do so but only in an accent of a gilding roll on the fore edges. I felt this alone presented enough of an adornment to the whole piece.

I made the slip case with white silk moire interior and royal purple felt top and bottom, white pull cord and cream Italian cloth. Although I would not normally mix creams and whites the whole thing worked on this set because the vellum has creams and whites present in it. The book is quite dense feeling due to the nature of the vellum and this makes the whole thing quite an experience to hold. Vellum is labor intensive.  One has to set up the bindery for the cleanest possible working conditions. The book has to be bound in white paper over the boards before adding the vellum or the color of the book board will show through. The vellum is moistened prior to putting it on the book and has to be stretched over the book to form to it.  It is all very much like binding in a combination pastry dough and wet raw hide- delicate but tough/ sloppy but in a setting like a surgeon. Once it dries it shrinks and pulls so in stretching and forming it over the book you have to ensure it is not stretched too far or the covers will bow in the opposite direction when the whole thing is dried. In the picture below you can see the covers lying flat and square- which means it was done correctly. Vellum is one of my favorite materials to work with but it is like binding a book two or three times all at once.

Although this project was full of difficulties and set-backs the resulting binding is a sight to behold and quite uncommon.