Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gunfight at the OK Corral

Once in a blue moon, I take a custom order that I find particularly interesting. Usually I stay away from journal custom orders as I end up working much more on making that journal then I foresee. Beside, I am never sure if it worked out as the customer pictured it and I am always stressed out not knowing if I'll get my best feedback ever or the worst one. Anyway, this time the task was to make a book out of some documents that attest the legendary gunfight in Arizona, known as the "Gunfight at the OK Corral".

The book had to have the look and feel of a book from the old wild west. I thought that is really cool as the actual handwritten testimonies of the men involved in that gunfight are to be found on the internet, scanned at good resolution. The documents were recently found in a jail storage room.
The documents were yellowish with stains from old adhesive tape so I had to put them on a similar background so that when I'd cut the prints to size, there wouldn't be any white borders left or anything strange. I decided to print them in color, as if I were to print them in grayscale and then tan them they wouldn't look as good.

There were 8 testimonies and a cover sheet so I wanted to separate them somehow so I created some extra pages in between them, also on old paper background, using an old typewriter font to write which testimony that was.

It was lovely to discover details about the original files, like the type of paper used, the size of the documents and the binding type, all from little clues found in the pictures. I tried to stay as close as possible to the original.

Because of the size of the documents, I had to print A3 sheets that would contain two different pages on each side that I then folded in half. The hardest and most time consuming task was to figure out which page continues with which one, cause due to the binding would be like... page 37 continues with page 54 and so on.

Then, out in the town to find the best printer service - I made sample pages at about four different locations - one was too contrast, another made unequal borders that made the binding center offset compared to the other side of the sheet, another made the pages much too shiny, and finally I found one that printed them with a nice color and feel. I opted for thicker pages as if I were to print all the documents on normal paper, the book, which is quite large, almost letter size, would have the feel of a flimsy magazine.

After I trimmed the pages, found a distressed leather piece and sewed the pages in, the real fun begun - I folded the pages just a bit, then ironed them, to have these subtle creases that give it a nice look.

Then, I torn just a bit the edges and sanded the corners - now the page look much better and authentic.

I added a belt with a vintage buckle and distressed the leather even more, tanning it with sepia pigments.
The last part was painting the journal - my favorite part :)

Although making this book was a very difficult project, I love the outcome so much that I would keep it!

I just have to hope the customer likes it too :)


  1. I am the customer, and I love it!!!!! I was soooo hoping I'd found a vendor who would go to the lengths that you did. I am relieved and delighted, and you finished it ahead of time!!

    It looks incredible. Words cannot express how impressed and grateful I am. I wish I could keep the book for myself! Alas, it's a 60th birthday present for my aunt who is a fan of all things from this era.

    You have done a terrific job. I will definitely highly recommend you. Thanks for taking a chance on this project

  2. My goodness Anca, this is the most interesting book project I have read about. I love that book so much! The painting on the cover looks so awesome that initially I thought it was a printed movie cover. I'm so impressed with your skills! Great job!

  3. What a great book! So much technology and it still seems it has been in the shelf for 150 years.
    I really love the cover, with its figures and the lettering!

  4. Simplu si frumos , ceea ce face omul cu drag ramane in peste ani o amintire vie si placuta . felicitari!

  5. Wow! Duly impressed. The customer for this job sent me the link and I am blown away. Can't wait to check out your store and to come up with my own custom idea.

    Well done!

  6. Fantastic work! I love all the details.

  7. Wow, thank you so much guys :) I'm so glad you like it, that really motivates me to adventure myself into other daring artistic projects!

  8. This is really beautiful and exquisite attention to detail!! Thank you Teo for guiding me to this fabulous blog! :)

  9. The journal arrived today, and it is incredible. I cannot believe the attention to detail. Again, I am so grateful you accepted my Etsy request. You thought of everything--the frayed pages, the title pages, the font, the printing of the title pages, the type of paper. It is exquisite. I cannot thank you enough.

  10. I am the customer's sister-in-law as well as a teacher and history lover. I am blown away by what I've seen online and can't wait to see the actual product in person! My mind is racing to come up with ideas of my own just to have one. What a gift you have as well as Teresa!