Technology and the Printed Book:

Pursuing a Holistic Human Experience with a Sacred Text

There exists a sort of gravitas attached to a book that is printed and bound by hand that gets lost on the production line.

If you were to hold a hand-printed, hand-bound codex next to a mass-produced book, you would see between the two a visible and tactile difference in quality and harmony between form and content.

It is the difference between walking into a cathedral versus walking into a warehouse; both can be places of worship but everyone, regardless of religious belief, can sense the divine when entering a room of colored light. In the same way, an intricately illuminated book of hours may be labeled a mark of human achievement, a thing of awe or remarkable grandeur, but no matter the descriptive text used the form of the book itself brings the mind toward something more magnificent than ourselves.

This was understood in the Middle Ages, but seems to have been neglected in favor of faster and more economical production techniques. The books of this era tell a story of a world ruled by numbers and efficiency as opposed to quality and beauty. They speak of a modern culture that values speed at the cost of longevity. They present a narrative of machine dominating craft.

My work seeks to dispel that ideology, to remind us that we are human and that, while technology is wonderful, it cannot replicate the imperfections of hand-crafted material on its own. By allowing craft and technology to merge and converse, I can showcase the advantages of both platforms. It is my sincere hope that you experience wisdom, knowledge, truth, and beauty here, imperfections and all.

For my MFA Thesis project, I determined to create an edition of The Book of Proverbs. I worked with Dr. Gary Yates, an Old Testament scholar from Liberty University School of Divinity, and his team of student researchers as they developed a custom translation of the book.

The entire book is set in two typefaces that I have developed, Cathedral Gothic Text and Schwarzlicht. The pages were each exported and laser engraved into wood using a Glowforge Laser Cutter. Then these woodblocks were used to print the entire book by hand on a press that I built with my husband.

Each chapter of the book opens with an illuminated illustration, complete with 23k gold leaf accents. Once printed, the book was hand sewn using a laced-in 5-cord structure and headbands and endbands were sewn on. Finally it was bound in laser-engraved leather.