Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine


This book came about after I heard a performance of the a cappella musical work of the same name. The composer Eric Whitacre invited his friend Charles Anthony Silvestri to collaborate on a commission to write a choral work, which resulted in the magical and dramatic song 'Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine'. 

The two friends imagined what it would sound like if Leonardo Da Vinci were dreaming, being tormented by the idea of flying, and what kind of music such a dream would invoke. Eric Whitacre referred to their work as ..."a fascinating balance, an exotic hybrid of old and new..." and the construction of this book is a similar hybrid, marrying traditional methods with new.

         I decided to use handmade paper, and commissioned a special making from Griffen Mill, in Ireland.This traditional type of paper was made for letterpress printing, with its softer surface allowing the letters to sink into the page. I used photopolymer plates on my old iron Craftsmen press, for both text and illustrations.

 For this book I created five full-page illustrations, printing them onto hand-made Japanese Bicchu Torinoko Gampi (dyed with tea and dried on boards), echoing the terracotta and black colours of ancient Etruscan pottery. I used flat gold leaf, burnished to a shine, to illuminate them. I also used some of the line drawings from the note-books of Leonardo Da Vinci. Two are used on the endpapers and three amongst the text.

The hand-drawn lettering on the title page is echoed in the gold blocked title on the front cover. The book was sewn on dyed vellum slips, laced through the rich burgundy coloured goat skin leather of the covers. I extended the lower cover leather on the fore edge to form a wrap over the textblock, referencing the style of an artist's portfolio, and the covers are tied with grosgrain ribbon. 

The endpapers were dyed with tea and printed with Leonardo's dragonfly sketch and his drawing of a man dangling from a parachute. There are forty pages including blanks, and the book measures almost three inches high and two and three-eighths wide approx. It is a Limited edition of twenty copies, eighteen of which were for sale. It is signed by Charles Anthony Silvestri, Eric Whitacre and Jan Kellett. Price CA$450.00 plus shipping and insurance. 
See Bank of Canada for currency conversion.
This edition is now sold out..

I've blogged extensively about how this book was made, with lots of info on paper, printing, binding etc, on my blog: http://booked-out.blogspot.com/

   © Janet Kellett 1996-2015   jan dot kellett at shaw dot ca