During a printmaking course in London in 1976 Laura Wait discovered bookbinding. She studied traditional English fine binding at Croydon College of Art with Richard Tullett for five years, and continued her training in Texas with Don Etherington and Tony Cains at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin, in 1986 and 1987. Wait keeps one foot firmly planted in both worlds of fine art binding and book conservation, and has operated her own bookbinding studio since 1981. Wait now teaches bookbinding and design across the USA and her creative work is collected widely.
King James translation.
Pownal, VT: Mason Hill Press, 1978.
Terra cotta Harmatan goatskin binding. Hand-decorated paste endsheets with a leather joint. Decorated with leather onlays, acrylic paint, colored foil, and gold tooling. The cross design is based on Wait's own artwork. She has been investigating the genesis of religious symbolism, studying ancient world signs such as the square and triangle. The square crosses are the precursor to the well-known form of the Christian cross. The colors used are the universal four colors of the world: blue, black, white (yellow), and red. The small geometric signs are other universal world symbols. These symbols were used extensively in church decoration, especially in the Middle Ages. Bound in 2002.
The river is central to the text, as it was to the world that Mark Twain inhabited. The river journey is also symbolic of the changing personal relationship of Huck and Jim. One night a riverboat bears down on their raft, forcing them to jump off, thus separating them. Jim eventually saves Huck and the raft. This fosters the development of their ultimate relationship as friends, rather than slave and master. Since this is a night scene there are many stars in the sky above the dark water. The riverboat is dark with windows lit, and the raft is wood with a tent.
Black Harmatan goatskin, with colored leather onlays used for the design of the riverboat and raft. Gold stars will fill the sky and the water will be tooled in wavy blind lines. Brown foil will outline the raft and the front of the riverboat. The samples illustrate the color and style of the proposed tooling. The title will be "Huck Finn" tooled in gold with Centaur letters. "Mark Twain" will be tooled in slightly smaller letters. There will be handsewn silk endbands, and the endpapers will be a hand-painted black and gold paste paper with black leather joints.