We often talk about the challenges of creating a family history. We know a lot of folks need encouragement to take that first step on what might be a long journey. And so we often advise clients to “just start” as a way to avoid becoming overwhelmed at the outset.
But with so much emphasis on new beginnings, we sometimes forget to celebrate when we accomplish our goals! And so we’d like to share how it feels here at RLM when we complete a major project. (Long-story-short: It feels amazing.)
Enjoy this peek into the creation of some of our most beautiful books!
The eagle has landed! Susan took the lead in creating some gorgeous leather-bound books for a client’s family history. The finished product has been shipped by the binder directly to her for inspection. Their work has always been meticulous, but she leaves nothing to chance.
The atmosphere in Susan’s studio is half Christmas morning and half quality-control lab. The deadlines were tight on this job, and any defects would require an immediate do- over. Our production schedule had plenty of extra time built in—but still, this moment is always a bit tense.
The unboxing gets real. The first sensations of handling a new book—the cool touch of hand-polished leather, the weight of each page as it’s turned, the vibrant colors that had previously existed only on a computer screen—are always thrilling.
Susan checks every individual book by hand. Is the gold leaf on the cover and spine stamped properly? Is the decorative pattern on the cover centered? Do the silk endbands sit securely within the curve of the headcaps? Are the linen slipcovers pristine, with no stray threads? Do the books fit comfortably inside, without being too snug or loose? These details show the true craftsmanship of our stellar binding partner.
So far, so good! Susan now looks at each book’s interior. She’s reviewed multiple proofs from the printer before now, of course, but seeing the real thing brings her eagle eye back to the fore. Is the type crisp and clean? Have the images printed as expected, with no shifting of colors (which could result in a reddish or greenish cast on black-and-white photos)? Are large, solid areas of color consistent throughout, with no streaking? Are the endpapers centered, and do they fold without puckers? Check, check, check, and check. Everything looks perfect!
To ensure that the client enjoys the same excitement, Susan wraps each volume in our signature colors. She tucks in a note explaining how to care for these heirloom-quality books—with the proper handling, they will preserve this family’s story for generations. Long after our phones and laptops become obsolete, the technology of the printed word will survive!
With her precious work checked and repackaged, it’s off to FedEx for shipment to the client. It’s a bittersweet moment. Susan has spent so much time creating and realizing these works of art, it’s understandably hard to let them go. She can finally revel in accomplishment and pride as she returns to her studio to take stock. And—what do you know?—there’s another project, for another family, waiting for her magic touch.