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January 31, 2008

Your Ideas, Shamelessly Solicited
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:48 PM * 79 comments

Ursula Le Guin once wrote: When action grows unprofitable, gather information. When information grows unprofitable, sleep.* I am not yet sleepy, but action on one matter has grown unprofitable.

I’m currently designing the covers for my personal set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is the same Harper Collins edition I rebound for the Worldcon art show in 2005. LOTR is the one-volume set that Houghton Mifflin put out in 1991 (It’s needed a rebind since about 1992 - the weight of the book block tore it out of its own covers within one reading).

The intention is to do simple bindings, ones that will last for a long time unboxed on my shelves. The leather will be red, of course, with a single onlay for each book. The onlaid designs will be simple variations on a ring shape, with no interior detail. They will be 3 - 5 cm in diameter on the front cover, and may be repeated in smaller form on the spines.

For The Hobbit, I’ve sketched out a design I’m relatively happy with. I was thinking of doing it in chicken foot leather, which has small scales, like miniature dragon skin.

LOTR is more of a problem. I’ve tried a number of motifs for it, but none of them work for me. I can’t think of a single overriding image from the book, apart from the Ring itself. The paired images I can come up with — the Eye and the Hand; the Two Towers — don’t go very well into ring shapes. I tried a couple of three-element designs — leaf, horse and mountain; bow, axe and sword — but they require too much distortion as well.

So tell me, O Ye Well-Read Folk, what symbols would you put on the cover of The Lord of the Rings? What could be distorted into a ring shape and onlaid in leather? What are the most important, or the most interesting, or the most easily drawn elements of the story?

(If the conversation then wanders into cover designs for other bindings, well, that’s fine with me. I am always interested in what other people see in books.)

* Yes, of course you can have it in Latin. Cum actio sterilifit, indicia collige. Cum indicia sterelifiunt, dormi.

Comments on Your Ideas, Shamelessly Solicited:
#1 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:53 PM:

I'm not convinced this is a good idea, but it's the only one I have in my pre-coffee state:

> What could be distorted into a ring shape and onlaid in leather?

A stylised landscape. A somewhat different one for each book, marking the journeys of that volume.

The tricky bit would be to make it
- readable as a landscape
- stylised enough to work as a cover motif
- not crap

I love the idea of rebinding favourites btw, If the publishing industry was set up entirely for my convenience, the natural lifecycle of a book would be:
- buy as a cheap paperback
- if it becomes well loved, re-buy as a hardback some years later
- if it becomes central to my life (say The Book of the New Sun) have it custom rebound to my specifications.

Given that my wife is a bookbinder I guess it's in my power to ask, if I can find good condition secondhand hardbacks...

#2 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Perhaps the White Tree of Gondor with branches spread to cradle the Ring? Trees in general play a large role in the book, from the Ents to the tree Sam plants in Hobbiton at the end.

#3 ::: Jeff Hentosz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:57 PM:

The front door of Bag End?

#4 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:58 PM:

Jeff @3:
The front door of Bag End?

That's what I did last time!

#5 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:01 PM:

"Not idly do the leaves of Lothlorien fall..."

Why not use the leaf? (A visual pun on the leaves of a book...)

#6 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:03 PM:

I second E with the tree motif -- the illustration on the entrance to Moria also featured a tree, I believe? Roads and paths also figure heavily throughout, but perhaps more obscurely. Maybe some of JRRT's own runes could work somehow? [/free association]

#7 ::: mensley ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:06 PM:

I've always liked Tolkien's drawing of the doors of Moria in the first volume. It seems like it would make a very nice impression in leather.

#8 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Anglo Saxon style knotwork of Middle Earth creatures mixing Tolkien's original work with the traditions of mythology that he so loved and was inspired by.

#9 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:11 PM:

Ooh, nifty Smaugoborous!

For LOTR, could you put the poem (in Elvish, natch) as a nearly-invisible background, with the Ring laid on top?

#10 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:15 PM:

I second the doors to the mines of Moria. Has a great iconic image and symbolic one (Open at Your Own Peril!)

#11 ::: Marc Moskowitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:25 PM:

Are you doing three designs or six?

#12 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:30 PM:

If you want the design to be simple, I don't think you can do better than three plain rings. For COMPLICATED designs, you can get into having them be rings of figures -- orcs interspersed with Riders of Rohan, or the Nine Walkers interspersed with the Nine Riders, chasing each other round and round.

#13 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:30 PM:

Yes, trees/leaves motifs FTW.

Seven stars
And seven stones
And one white tree.

Alternately, you could rebind "The Hobbit" in red leather and title it "The Red Book of Westmarch". :D

#14 ::: Bruce Purcell ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:31 PM:

The Fellowship of the Ring- maybe in front of the Gates of Moria?
The Gates are cool. And- (as Fritz Leiber said): Tolkein wasn't interested in evil- not only does the snake not have all the lines, the snakes aren't even cool-looking.
Um, except the Ring, the Gates of Moria, the Black Riders, their pteradactyls, Smaug. . . should I abandon the 'not even cool-looking' part? Yeah, that't the ticket: Tolkein villains are cool-looking but void of interesting thought! Wonder why I liked the books so much in high school. And now.
I wonder if a book cover could show that contrast?

#15 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:31 PM:

Alternately, you could rebind "The Hobbit" in red leather...

...which I see you've already done. Never mind...

*slinks away*

#16 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:37 PM:

I read 'ring' as 'round' and thought of a stylized Tree of Life, but I'm not sure where that would be appropriate. I like the idea of a ring of figures. Maybe do three specific Rings-- one One Ring, one elfy ring, one other ring?

#17 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:55 PM:

I can't think of anything which would fit your "has to work as a ring shape" criterion. If it were me commissioning a set, I think I'd want the gates of Moria on FOTR, the entrance to the Hall of Rohan on TTT, and the gates of Minas Tirith (emblazoned with the White Tree) on ROTK; that would be a nice group of related items, and have the "door into the book" symbolism as well.

#18 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:03 PM:

The shards of Narsil might make for an interesting ring.

#19 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:14 PM:

One ring made out of all the other rings interlocked with each other.

#20 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:19 PM:

For Return of the King, perhaps the caldera of Mount Doom, with smoke rising towards the top of the book (incidentally breaking the ring shape)?

#21 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:22 PM:

I mean the caldera as viewed from above, making a ring shape. Smoke rises to the north.

I don't know how hard it would be to make a cover look like a caldera viewed from above, so it might be too difficult.

#22 ::: Tom ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:25 PM:

Why not view the caldera from above, with smoke rising out of the cover of the book? You could set it on fire for added effect, or embed a little gas burner in the front cover.

#23 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:29 PM:


You know what I mean. An onlay, resembling the top view of a caldera, with the smoke rising to the north. Not simple, but then, I have no idea of the range of things you can do with onlays.

#24 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:32 PM:

Fun bleg!

Abstract round things: Palantir, Galadriel's basin, caldera of Orodruin

Illustration pairings: 9 walkers vs. 9 riders, tower vs. tower, Eye vs. winged crown

What --E@ #2 said, Trees: Moria gate, Treebeard, the White Tree. Tolkien loved trees; this idea is my favorite.

Lee @ #17: Gates would render really well in leather.

#25 ::: Tom ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:32 PM:

Hey, Malthus, I was being serious! It could be quite neat having a gas burner in the front cover of a favourite book. You could use it on fondue nights.

Well, maybe I was only serious about the top view bit. I think that'd work better, especially if the vertiginous sensation of gazing into the maw of Orodruin, wisps of smoke rising, could be conveyed.

#26 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:40 PM:

Are you going to bind them in the darkness?

#27 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:45 PM:

I'm all for simplicity, myself, and I think the leaf/tree motif covers a *lot* in LotR. Even just a single ringed branch w/ leaves would imply the elves, the White Tree, etc. simultaneously.

#28 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:52 PM:

very simple.

one ring.
three rings.
seven rings.
nine rings.

I like the seven stars and seven stones and one white tree idea, but I think it'd be difficult to do well.

#29 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:59 PM:

The idea of having a symbol of light and a symbol of dark for each volume appeals to me, but working in leather can limit your expression wuite a bit. What works for me is...

Fellowship: The Ring; the gates of Moria
Two Towers: Two faces of Smeagol, back to back; No Idea Whatsoever. :(
Return of the King: Tree of Gondor; Eye of Sauron

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:59 PM:

I don't suppose that Isildur's broken sword could be distorted into a ring shape...

#31 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:01 PM:

I'm going to say it so Abi doesn't have to--she's doing a one-volume LOTR, not a 3-volume.

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:02 PM:

How about Treebeard into a ring?

#33 ::: Jeff Hentosz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:24 PM:

abi @ 4:

Oh, you mean I'm supposed to -- how you say? --"click" links in the original post? Why, that just might be crazy enough to ... oh, you know. Still. It is a good idea. Nicely done.

Otherwise, I agree the tree ideas are most appropriate. But, also: How about interconnected horse heads? Black (Nazgul), brown (Rohan) and white (Shadowfax).

Or, a bird's eye view of Minas Tirith?

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:32 PM:

Er, Abi, it's Houghton Mifflin not Hughton Mifflin.

Since I first read the trilogy, I've had in my mind the vision of the coronation of Aragorn, before the broken gates of Minas Tirith, accompanied by hobbits, dwarf, elf, Rohirrim, and wizard. I wonder how you could do that scene.

How would you dye the chicken-foot leather?

#35 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:32 PM:

Eowyn's necklace and Aragorn's crown

#36 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:39 PM:

Cover words? How about "Speak, Friend, and Open."

You could just put the whole thing in a ring binder.

(I like the idea of an emblem for each major character. A fish for Gollum.)

#37 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:41 PM:

How about just "The Lord of the Rings" in Qenya? with a gold ring? Very simple, geeky beyond all get out, and would probably look great.

#38 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:01 PM:

The post and the first dozen or so comments started me thinking, and I don't think well about this sort of design in words. So this is what came out of it. It's not a ring design, unfortunately, but with luck it'll give some ideas for others, and this is what it wanted to be for me. It's still crude and needs some optimizing.

(I'm almost glad it didn't turn out as a ring design, because I'd hate Abi to think I was trying to provide her with images rather than ideas - I find it extremely disconcerting myself when I want ideas and people try to do the job for me.)

#39 ::: Kam ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:22 PM:

Delurking to riff off of joel hanes @ #28...

A stylized white tree whose silhouette of branches and roots is roughly circular; an arc of seven stars above it and another of seven stones below it. The bulge of the ground, or of clouds etc in the sky, could suggest another interlocking ring.

*Resumes lurking with delight.*

#40 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:30 PM:

I've deliberately not looked at any entries yet. My first thought was Gandalf's G rune.

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:36 PM:

How about a hockey puck?
("Serge, it's Lord of the Rings, not Rinks.")
Oh. Nevermind.

#42 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:10 PM:

I second julia's suggestions @#35

Other round things - the door of bag end, smoke o's from gandalf's pipe

#43 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:14 PM:

When action grows unprofitable, gather information. When information grows unprofitable, sleep.

Or, as I prefer, drink...


#44 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Can you make something of Frodo and the Mirrormere, with the Ring being the circle of the world?

#45 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:44 PM:

Abi, re your Hobbit design, remind me to send you a photo of my wedding ring.

It's an Ouroboros my wife and I designed with the jeweler, modeled very loosely on the one from the old BB cover of The Worm Ouroboros - more dragonesque and less snakey than most depictions of the Ouroboros. We couldn't think of a better way to depict our hope for eternal love.

#46 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:29 PM:

The dragon looks to me as if it needs the Arkenstone cradled inside its arc.

#47 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:30 AM:

I can visualize a line drawing of two round towers, rising up close together and parallel, but drawing apart and back together in a round shape, such as some of the modern skyscrapers that have "holes" in the tops. The tops wouldn't meet, but would be crenelated turrets, smaller than the towers' bases.

I also liked Serge's idea with Treebeard.

#48 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:44 AM:

Sam Kelly #38:
That's really neat. Makes my eyes water; looks like it has more dimensions than two. Lovecraftian.

#49 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:05 AM:

The ring is the obvious basis for the design; I like the idea of using the ring as the primary composition element. The ring, with the inscription, would bound an inner area showing a landscape of Middle Earth, with Mount Doom on the horizon, and figures, leaves, etc. symbolic of the story around the outside of the ring and entwined with it. Here's a quick sketch of the idea.

#50 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:09 AM:

I'm staring at the ancient Ballantine Boxed Set of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings that I cut my teeth on and then flagrantly wrested from my father. (For years after I was sure that the proper use of the back covers of books was to show pictures of friendly looking dons pleading that their books be bought from the publisher of the don's choosing.) I mention this because the box has several of Tolkien's heraldic designs for various elves important to the Silmarillion. Many of these feature some sort of round design, frequently both vaguely vegetative and astronomical. If you can find references, I might adapt one of those (particularly one of the elves who figures in the ancestry of Arwen and Aragorn) for the Lord of the Rings.

#51 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:51 AM:

Steve Taylor @1:
...if I can find good condition secondhand hardbacks...
Well, that's the trick, isn't it? Not everything is rebindable. I have a great idea for The Left Hand of Darkness, but the last time I asked an SF bookseller if there were any signature sewn editions of it around he laughed.

Malthus & Tom:
I'm not sure I'd use a gas ring on the front of Tolkien - it would be hard to hide the mechanicals well enough. I'd be more likely to do it on Farenheit 451. (Actually, I had an idea for F451: a book burning kit, all in a box together. Specially shaped voids for matches, a bottle of accellerant, and a copy of F451. Nearly did it for a Worldcon art show, but things got busy in real life. And shipping a bottle of flammable liquids internationally? Not so much.)

Erik Nelson @26:
Are you going to bind them in the darkness?
Certainly. It's part of a project of mine: three history books, seven about gemology, nine novels*. There are certain terms and conditions that apply to anyone who ends up with one of them.

Sam Kelly @38:
I love the incorporation of the eye shape into the tree.

Clifton Royston @45:
You should send me a photo of your wedding ring.

Sara @50:
I googled "Tolkien heraldry" and found this page. Many of the designs there look like they would go well on quilts, actually. (So then I googled "Tolkien heraldry quilt" and found this by what looks like a very good costumer. Unfortunately, her LJ ends in 2005 and she never shows how it came out.) But they're mostly round rather than ring-shaped.

Although the gates of Moria are lovely, I don't think I want them on this set. I really am trying to go for simplicity, letting the weight of the books themselves and the texture of the leather do most of the visual work. I might add some metal hardware at the corners.

I have a three-volume Allen & Unwin set that will want more delicate and varied treatment (for my brother, one of these years...). That would do nicely with some of the suggestions -- paired trees for one, paired towers for the second, Eye and crown (or crown and necklace) for the third, for instance.

The horse heads are a distinct possibility (Jeff Hentosz @33), mostly because that's one of the things I can reliably get the shape of. I could do them in eelskin, though I'd have to dye the black myself. (Dying leather, O Fragano the Absolutely Correct About Publisher Names? You can get aniline dyes that dissolve in alcohol, but I'm lazy and use permanent calligraphy ink.)

The alternative is leaves, of course, which is a motif I'm fond of in general. If only we knew more about the leaf shapes of Middle-Earth! The leaves of Lorién should be almond-shaped, Treebeard makes me think craggy lobate oaken leaves, and I don't know what the White Tree's leaves are like. Again, I could use eelskin; I have dark green and olive green already, and I know my supplier does other shades.

* You do know only humans read novels, don't you? Elves don't do fiction because their history is too interesting. Dwarves don't either, because reality is too interesting.

#52 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 04:47 AM:

abi: I might be willing to be Nazgul to your Sauron.

I likes novels.

#53 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:57 AM:

Abi #51: I was curious as to whether there was a difference between the dyes needed for a scaly leather and that needed for a smooth one.

#54 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 08:55 AM:

For the three volume set of LOTR, it's easy: Ring, Palintir, Crown. But no inspiration strikes for the single volume. I've always thought of it as three books, having been brought up on my mother's first edition, second printing set. It's a bit worn now, but she still keeps it: I've just realised that of the books in my parent's house, that's what I most want to inherit.

#55 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:59 AM:

What if you did a side view/oval of a ring, rather than a top view/circle?

That way you could have the two towers be the "front" and "back" of the oval. The same could be done with the eye/hand and your leaf/horse/mountain set. I have some sculptural rings (with stylized water motifs) that when viewed from above are more or less a plain band. When you look at them side-on, they are detailed.

Could your Smaug-Ring be curled around the finger like Smaug around a column holding up the roof of his loot cave?

#56 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:01 AM:

Answering without having looked at the other posts:

Fellowship: The members of the fellowship walking in a ring
Towers: Maybe the eye? Or an aerial view of Isengard, with a stone wall forming a ring around the boundary and a small horned tower at the center?
Return: A crown

Towers is the hard one because the dominant images are the towers, Gollum and Mordor, none of which are ring shaped. I like the idea of having three images which call to mind the ring, with none of them being the ring itself.

#57 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:24 AM:

If you want to combine the ideas of "tree" and "eye", here's something in natura, a photo I took of a tree near the parking lot at work. Creeped me out somehow.

#58 ::: Nick ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Since this is a single-volume edition, why not go with a motif that fits Frodo's title for the whole thing

"The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King"

So, the crown of the King of Gondor surrounded by the Ring.

#59 ::: Nick ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:00 PM:

Oops, forget that last post. I didn't pay close attention to the design constraints.

#60 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:50 PM:


#61 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Abi wrote (in reply to my #38): I love the incorporation of the eye shape into the tree.

Thank you! I find it metaphysically v. dodgy, given the rather different symbolism of the two, but it's what it wanted me to draw.

And Soon Lee at 48: looks like it has more dimensions than two. That's knotwork for you! This is extremely simple and mildly unconventional knotwork, but it follows the rules. The bounding lines (which are entirely accidental, an artifact of the imagemuckingaroundwith I had to do) help to separate plane from plane too. William Morris talks about that in his pattern-designing lectures, though not connecting it to knotwork at all.

Debbie at 57: Oh, dear, yes. That really is extremely disturbing. I think it's partly to do with the eyelid the bark forms. It reminds me of a book cover, but I don't know which - I can't find it on this gallery of Tolkien covers.

#62 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:21 PM:

Maybe the wings and slithery parts of a balrog surrounding a wizard (way off-center, or maybe even as part of the ring) as they fall. Maybe even a (temporal) ring of numerous balrogs and wizards. If the cover is large enough, a temporal ring could even chronicle Gandalf overcoming the balrog. The silhouetted figures could be like something from a piece of primitive art. So that the ring has no beginning or end, maybe you can somehow morph the figures so they transform into each other.

Also, if it isn't too subtle, maybe a wavy refection of some sort from Galadriel's water-mirror, with the ring represented in a ripple or ripples.

#63 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 05:18 PM:

abi: I can’t think of a single overriding image from the book, apart from the Ring itself

abi again: I really am trying to go for simplicity

So, as a few people have suggested variations on, what's wrong with just using the Ring? It's been done to death, yes, but it is the core image, and for a classic book, a classic motif isn't inappropriate.

If you don't like plan view, how about something along the lines of a 3/4 view with text? Makes it elliptical rather than the "circular" theme you seem to be thinking of, but your The Hobbit dragon motif would work well in an elliptical form too.

#64 ::: Apo ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:30 PM:

I think a heart. Not the four chambers and branching aorti and all (although, lots of gore in these books, more than I remember when I read them again) but a valentine. A smooth dip in the top of the circle, slight point at the bottom. Tolkien wrote love beautifully. Every character is described precisely in terms of their heart's desire, no matter how evil or destructive or impossible. I know it's not a common visual tie for the book, but you're not looking for canon, are you?

#65 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 08:00 PM:

OK, I can't draw -- but I keep seeing a ring shape with city on the lower curve and attacking army on the upper curve -- a ring tilted into an oval -- and only a ring-shaped part of this done embossed in gold. There could be lots more army embossed without highlighting -- and more castle below the parts done in gold, though some turrets will need highlight and stand up from the ring ... .

I wasn't even going to post this, but the image kept nagging.

#66 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Sam Kelly @ 61: One of the various Unwin editions? It isn't a tree, but that's what Debbie's photo reminded me of. There's a hardcover edition about a third of the way down (screen left, I think) on your gallery of covers page, and a paperback about two thirds of the way down (center).

#67 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:20 PM:

Mary Frances at 66: Hm, that does look similar, but it's not the one I'm thinking of... the vertical pupil slit is definitely part of it. It was a dragon's eye, I think.

#68 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:22 PM:

Oh, and back on the original topic - Boromir's horn could easily form a ring shape.

#69 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:24 AM:

Sarah @ #50: the ancient Ballantine Boxed Set of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings that I cut my teeth on

"For though he had very little Latin beyond 'Cave canem' he had, as a young dog, devoured Shakespeare (in a tasty leather binding)."

(I've been revisiting The Hundred and One Dalmatians this week, in the form of a reading by Anna Chancellor that sadly turned out to be ruthlessly - and in places rather awkwardly - abridged.)

#70 ::: JDC ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:34 AM:

I know I'm a bad person but I'd love to see a 2-ct. Tiffany ring lying on a table next to the iconic bue box in a very art-deco-ish style. That would be hilarious.

More seriously but probably not feasibly is a depiction of the ascent of Orodruin in the style of the Alfred Wainwright guidebooks. I don't know anything about bookbinding (chicken foot leather? Really? Cool.) but I wonder if there's enough "resolution" to imitate pen-and-ink.

#71 ::: lou ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:58 PM:

My favorite hardback cover came from a set of books my high school library had back in the 70s (just Fellowship and Two Towers, alas). The illustration was shadowy trees tossing in the wind. It always made me think of the trek to Bree and then Rivendell.

#72 ::: Liz Milner ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:42 AM:

The sea and the white towers. They link the very beginning of the book (Frodo's dream at Tom Bombadil's) to the very end (and beyond if you include the poem in the adventures of Tom B. about the seashell).

#73 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 02:56 PM:

I've changed my plans a little - I am now going to do the designs larger - about 5" in diameter - and deeply indented into the leather of the books.

To do this, I've cut 1mm stiff acetate to the shapes. After I've put the leather on the books, while it is still moist, I'll press the acetate shapes into the leather and leave them overnight.

(I did this once by accident with a bookmark ribbon, so I know it leaves a permanent dent.)

The Smaugoborous is still the design for the Hobbit. I've stolen synthesised the ideas from here into a complex ring shape for LOTR. Reading around, it contains a horse's head, a leaf, a broken sword, a leaf*, mountains with a path leading through them, a leaf†, a Ringwraith, and a leaf‡.

I'll post pictures of the LOTR design when I get it photographed, and pictures of the books themselves when they're done.

Thank you for the brilliant suggestions, both the ones I used and the ones I didn't. All this creative ferment was an enormous assistance!

* surprise!
† who would have guessed?
‡ yes, really

#74 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 04:33 PM:

Sounds very cool -- can't wait to see it!

#75 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 08:59 AM:

abi @ #73: a leaf, ... a leaf*, ... a leaf†, ... and a leaf‡.

Sure, that's all well and good now, but it seriously limits your options when it comes time to bind the same author's Tree and Leaf.

(Seriously, it sounds cool, and I look forward to seeing it.)

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