My original contribution was to collaborate with Chris Daunt and Harry Brockway to produce six full-page illustrations. My two were "Lyra consults the Alethiometer" and "Bears Fighting". The latter shows the point where two armoured bears fight at a dramatic moment in the story. My sketch had elements bursting out of a narrowed frame:
However, I engraved the image to the full frame so that it fitted in with the other engravings:
*Click* on any of these images for more detail.
I was asked to produce some further images and managed to fit them into a tight schedule. These included three decorated initial letters.
Letter A shows Lyra sitting out on an Oxford rooftop. Here is the sketch, followed by the engraving:
The Letter F shows an armoured bear:
Here is a stage in the engraving of the final one:
I was very pleased to capture the measured gaze of this powerful and thoughtful bear:
The next engraving was designed to be used at the end of a part page of text. Here is the engraved block, followed by the final image:
The most exciting part of this project was a large title page. Here is my sketch:
This involved buying the largest endgrain block that I had used. I have engraved larger images, but never on wood. Here is the block:
The drawing was transferred (in reverse) to the block which had been darkened with diluted ink and, slowly, I started to engrave:
I reworked the bear at the top of the image to make him much more powerful and fierce:
The central part of the block had to be cleared. I had drawn out the title by hand in an uncial style so that it could be made into a printing block. I divided the central area into small squares and cleared them one at a time with an alternation of round and square scorper:
After I had finished that, I squared the area up and repeated the job. It took two full days to clear and I ended up with my fingers covered in sticking plasters to try to avoid blisters as I worked:
Eventually, I was happy that I was ready to take a proof from the block and it was clamped into the bed of "Red" the 1902 Albion handpress:
Here are proofs drying on the ceiling rack:
And here is a proof from the block. Click on the image to enlarge it. I am particularly pleased with the powerful muscularity of this leaping bear:
Finally, I engraved a small press device as a gift for the publisher:
I really enjoyed working on this project. I thoroughly enjoy re-reading Philip Pullman's remarkable books and applaud the efforts of the Oak Tree Fine Press to raise funds for such an important cause.