bookbinding : : another kind of door

These book covers were made from an old door frame that Kris and I saved after Marina del Nido went bust and the resort was abandoned to opportunists and to nature. The timber is ipil, Intsia bijuga…a tropical hardwood of deep brown and red, with attractive golden streaks and a satiny shine at certain angles, that is also known as merbau or taal.

Kris worked these covers as a present for me, to make a journal for myself. He chipped the surrounding timber into his signature ‘rippled’ texture, but the parts where the wood was actually mortised by island carpenters for the doorframe, he left intact. As a door frame, a second beam of ipil was fitted, perpendicularly, into this square cavity, and the cylindrical kamagong (ebony…Diospyros) pins were hammered through to hold the two beams in place. Kris re-used the ebony pins, as well, embedding short pieces of them in the original holes.

Meant to go into my ETSY and Madeit shops, though now I’m not so sure. We haven’t got any more of these mortised doorframes from the old Marina del Nido…the resort was long ago plundered by the villagers, taken over by the jungle, and beaten by the elements.

Ipil, a protected Philippine timber, is hard enough to come by at any rate…but such hefty and aged pieces as this—with stories and memories locked away in the honey-streaked wood—we will definitely never see the likes of again.

So for now it sits on my desk—numbered (No. 905), signed, gleaming quietly, singing songs of Palawan forests that are no more, and tropical pavilions that have toppled over—and I look at the book every day, praising its ripples and the way light plays over its surface, cherishing the way my beloved handmade these book covers (another kind of doorway, leading into another sort of world), and I hope that other books in my shops will sell soon (because I need the money badly) so that I don’t have to offer this one. ◊

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