Crystal Pendant ( Lizzie )

Posted by Barabal on Friday, June 5. 2020 in Ornament

Crystal Pendant


It was 60 km from the Israeli border on the Egyptian side of the Read Sea. Hidden way down on an unused track, leading all the way to the beach, there were small bamboo Bedouin huts that you could rent out about 2m from the sea. When I visited there for some downtime now and then, there would be quite an eclectic group of people, they were mainly travellers that were passing through the area. There were no luxuries in these places, they were just basic Bedouin huts that were just big enough to sleep in, with the same area again for your clothes and a small bag, that’s it! One night when we were all gathered around the open fire, with the sea lapping in front of us, a group gathered round, which so often was the case, candles would be lit, leading all the way down to the fire and the sea. No sound or light pollution, it was magical, we would all chat about life and the meaning of it all, why we are here etc. Travellers were very insightful, spiritual, and usually we had a lovely discussion lasting through the late evening and into the night. Nothing unusual occurred and on the last night we were about to head off our separate ways, when a young woman of about 25 years tapped on the door of my hut, she had been in the group with us previously. I liked her opinions and chats within the group, but nothing really close. ‘Now’ she was stood in front of me, dangling a huge hexagon shaped crystal on the end of a silver chain. She said to me, that she had enjoyed the last few days, and that she was moving on. However, before she did, she wanted to give me this crystal necklace.


She said that, she thought I would get the most out of it, out of the whole group, and that if I carried it around with me from now on, it would bring me luck, healing, spiritual fulfilment, prosperity, and good fortune would follow me all my days. I was a bit astonished and felt special that she had chosen me out of the whole group. She hugged me, gave me the pendant and said goodbye. I never saw her again. This happened about 20 years ago. I still have the pendant to this day, and I have to say I feel blessed in life, whether it is the energy from the crystal or not, who is to say? I’d like to think it is


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Gilding Lilies ( Tom Williams )

Posted by Barabal on Friday, May 29. 2020 in Ornament

Gilding Lilies


Books, they say, do furnish a room.

Once those books would have been fine leather-bound volumes, the embossed trim and the gilded titles complementing the dark mahogany of the bookcase.

Time passed and leather bindings became a thing of the past. Now books were more utilitarian, with card covers. These covers were no longer decorative and not necessarily protected in glassed bookcases. So we got the dustjacket, a paper cover that guarded the card cover from damage. These could be quite plain. This is a relatively decorative one.

When paperback books became more popular they originally had the same relatively plain covers as the dust jackets. Penguin famously changed all that with the introduction of brilliantly coloured covers, the different colours originally being linked to different types of content – yellow for psychological novels, green for crime, dark blue for biography, cerise for adventure, red for plays and in this case orange for fiction. The covers originally had a grid design with the title and the penguin logo like this:

C:\Users\Tom\Desktop\Promo\BB\Book covers\1_PPu1M9FkK1pJeT9cWiiPxw.jpeg

Gradually, though, more illustrations were introduced.

Paperback design became an art in itself, both decorative and part of the business of selling the books. Book covers became both a practical sales tool and, as in the days of leather bound volumes, a decorative element. Books once again came to furnish a room. In fact, there are companies that will supply books purely as decorative items, such as whose website features this example of book covers as ornament. is concerned only with the spines of the books, but the covers can be works of art. Dust covers have followed the design lead of paperbacks and, especially on large “coffee-table” books they can incorporate beautiful images.

The artwork on paperbacks has become increasingly elaborate, but at the same time often quite formulaic, with different types of cover clearly representing different genres. Here are a couple of non-genre (“literary”) covers.

Interestingly, The Last Days of Leda Grey was given a much more genre specific "romance” cover when it was released for mass-market publication.

The most elaborate and striking covers, unsurprisingly, are often those of graphic novels where cover designs can be so significant that the books often include an appendix with additional covers, some of which are spectacular images in their own right.

This can even lead to the rather strange situation where a hardback cover has a dramatic decorative image which is then protected by a dust cover with another startling image. By now any functional, marketing, rationale for the cover is consumed in the effort to produce a book which is in itself ornamental in appearance as an object to furnish a room.

Book covers are practical in that they keep the books from falling apart. These early 19th century volumes are bound copies of separate plays, all protected by being placed in “proper” covers.

They are, however, also ornamental. The tooled spine and gilded title go beyond anything that is strictly required to protect the pages.

In time the ornamental aspects came to serve a double function – aesthetically pleasing but also selling (sometimes aggressively selling) the book. Here we see books that represent historical, romance, and action/adventure genres. All are reasonably typical (though the James Bond design is a little dated). All are aiming to be reasonably decorative, but this is subordinated to the selling message.

I'm particularly interested in the idea of covers as ornament right now because I have decided to take my titles away from a conventional publisher and published myself. The first thing this means is that I have control of my cover design. Here you can see how the design of the first of my about James Burke is changing from that produced by Lume Books to that commissioned by me.

C:\Users\Tom\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\Burke In The Land of Silver.jpg

Is my cover more use or more ornament? Obviously it is designed to sell the book, but it is doubtful that the additional sales of an e-book that will probably be priced at £2.99 will cover the significant cost of the cover. But to me, like many authors, the cover is the face that my baby shows to the world, and I want my baby to be as pretty as possible. The cover is practical, certainly, but it is also a thing of beauty – an ornament to any bookcase.




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