Trudy Vinson
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The Bell Jar

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The Bell Jar

limited edition book design

Judges Choice Award Winner from the Publishing Professionals Network

As part of the Publishing Professionals Network call for entries, I created a handmade book design starting from just a raw text file (and lots of book glue). I knew I wanted to do a classic American novel by a female author, and recalled when I had read Sylvia Plath after seeing the famous quote about the fig tree, so I set out to re-package her work in the most beautiful way I could.

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Process, part one

After the brainstorming a few key words I associated with The Bell Jar, I knew I wanted the cover to be dark, and have a tie-in to the fig tree quote that had initially drawn me to the book. I kept the margins and page size to that of a traditional novel to maintain the classic feel. To make it feel like a special edition, I added the same illustration on the cover to each chapter opening.

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process, part two

The second part of the process was focused on craftsmanship. Each spread was meticulously designed in InDesign, then printed, folded, bound and stitched by hand. Each signature was hand-sewn and then glued using book blocks. The hardcover was created with rigid cardboard wrapped in wrapping sheets and glued to the spine. Although my roommate thought I was crazy for sewing paper together for two days straight, nothing else in my design career has taught me more about the value of craftsmanship and attention to detail.

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