COVER STORY: Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon by James Sullivan

Recovered by BINDER #9
Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon
by James Sullivan
Gotham Books, Penguin (2006)
Artist’s Statement: This journalistic sojourn into the history of jeans caught my eye long ago as a well-designed book–blue ink and images, chapter headings–with a way better body than its paperback wrappings suggested. I imagined a book cloth of denim, so I kept ahold of my old 100% cotton jeans. I later asked a paper artist to produce paper with them, having heard you get a great blue and sturdy paper. The result gave me two hues–a deep blue denim (with dye) and a lighter one mixed with cotton t-shirts.

I had also wanted to see if durable denim could live up to the legacy of leather, as used in raised-cord binding. I dug in a bit to the existing book block to make these cords structural. From there, I played with denim’s fibers to make seams and lines on the cover, even going so far as to incorporate fraying on the front cover and headbands. The tactile feel of pressed denim, after a nipping press! And scavenging a waistband and button-fly eye from a pair of my own jeans, I acquired some rivets and a no-sew button for a clasp.

Of course, some letterpress and foil stamping to finish the job. The end product is a book you will like to hold and cherish, that won’t live a life of quiet desperation on the shelf (or worse) but instead become an occasional read and constant conversation piece. Like a good pair of jeans, this recovered book signals the personality and taste of the one who possesses it.
Materials Used: davey board, jean scraps, jeans button, 100% recycled paper from jeans and t-shirts