Phase 1 developing cryobooks

I’ve started developing prototypes for the cryobooks after taking a course in surgical suture techniques.

The other day I took a walk to the local butcher and bought a big slab of pigs skin. I cant say that I enjoyed experience. In fact it took me a few days before I could muster up the will power to start cutting the skin into smaller sections.


Today I spent time testing out different suture needles and threading.  I tried different kinds of synthetic and nonsynthetic biodegradable ties. (coated and braided vicryl, silk and surgical catgut). So far the surgical catgut tie is working the best. The curved suture needle is working well for finer surgical stitching and the straight surgical needle seems to be working for using bookbinding stitching techniques.

So far the work in the lab is all about testing the material possibilities of the skin tissue before working with tissue culture and lentivirus in the PC2 lab.  It’s messy at the moment. I’m not paying much attention to the craft of the suture stitches yet. (I’m still getting a handle on the overpoweringly strong visceral reaction to working with flesh).

closeupprototypeHere’s a close up of two small pieces of pigs skin  stitched together with cat guts.


I have also been looking at the history of skin used in book binding technique. In fact, there is a long history of libraries collecting ‘anthropodermic bibliopegy’ that date back as early as the 13th century. (See a recent article printed in the Harvard Law School Independent Newspaper (April 30, 2009) .   There are examples of cadavers skins being used for the cover of anatomy books. Such a practice was often intended to be a respectful homage to human cadavers. However, there is a tendency  to regard such a practice as macabre. Arguably it can be, especially when human skin is used without the consent of the person it has been extracted from. The use of animal skin tissue (and plant tissue forthat matter) for book binding, on the other hand, does not evoke such deeply ethical and visceral responses from humans.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: