Des Moines, Iowa
Having a Ball with Sherlock Holmes—The Final Problem
Cloth selvedge, paper, glue, leather and rivets.
A Cursed Tale — Artist Notes
Two Northern Minnesota Artists blended their talents to create A Cursed Tale, a story—folklore or fact—loosely based on the Timpano Crypt of Hibbing, written and illustrated by Jane Ryan of Nisswa, designed and produced by book artist Theresa Angelo of Minneapolis.
Jane: This urban legend was told in my hometown for years and it always intrigued me. My niece and nephew also loved the story, so I decided to write and illustrate it in their honor, with a supernatural ending! It was great fun to write in poem form, which seemed to lighten the subject matter a bit. Also I enjoyed trying to illustrate the time period of the early 20th century, and also my own younger
years. The first color illustration introduced the reader to the real world, but the change to graphite fit the mood and eeriness of the subject. I used some family members in the illustrations, even sneaked my niece into one of them, which gives the book a very personal touch.
When I decided to pursue binding this story, I knew I wanted something not seen every day. By luck and coincidence, I contacted Theresa Angelo (also raised in Hibbing, my hometown) of Lost & Bound Books, and told her what I was thinking of. I gave her the poem and illustrated pages and basically said, here you go, do
what you think would be different… she did not disappoint! She set all the copy just where I wanted it; she chose the unusual top binding of the art copies, which I never would have thought of. Theresa created 5 different leather bound copies of the story, each with different leather techniques, colors, end papers, custom foil stamped front logo, and different stitchings. Each book was thought
out carefully and bound with great skill and an aesthetic sense of the spooky tone I wanted to convey. I feel that the project really came together collaborating with Theresa; our work complemented each other’s and the process was so interesting to work through and learn from.
Theresa: When Jane’s search for a book artist to produce her illustrated story, A Cursed Tale, landed with me, I was thrilled! The nature of the work as well as the timing were exactly what I needed to float me out of a creative dive. The content Jane provided was beautiful and familiar; perfect text for coursework I had recently planned at the American Academy of Bookbinding. During the autumn months of 2021 I began experimenting with various leather treatments adding color, texture and design – an endless experiment, without a doubt! During AAB classes I produced two 6 x 9” prototypes to give Jane, the writer/illustrator, options. Her response to the initial two books formed a framework for me to create five larger fine bindings laced onto boards with sewn in silk headbands – each with the feel of our Iron Range hometown graveyard.
I’m grateful to Jane and so pleased with our work.