Friday, October 30, 2009

Come, Sit a Spell

I was late again this morning. Had to go back for the camera. (One of these days, I ought to invest in a camera I can have with me all the time...)

It took a while to get this photo to come out as I actually saw it, but it was well worth the effort. Don't you just want to sit down here with someone in silence and listen to the falling leaves together?

A Foggy Mirror

If/when I ever move (the "if" there is a sign of something deep and disturbing to my former globe-trotting self) one of the things I'm going to miss is my daily commute to work. Five left turns, most of them within view of the lake. It's amazing how much variety there is in those 1.6 miles.

On the first cold snap in fall, I pretty much just assume that I'm going to get to work a little later than usual. The lake billows with clouds, and there's no hope for me but to go back around the block and fetch my camera.

Photos from two separate mornings:

Yes, this is scarcely a hundred feet from my front door. No, it's not Photoshopped. I do wish the bird had flown just a little bit closer, though. Then it would have been perfect.

At first, I wasn't sure what I was seeing as it floated out of the mist. After a minute, it became more obvious. It's hard to imagine a better morning for a nice paddle around the lake.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The Grace College Mu Kappa chapter invited us over for a bonfire and pumpkin carving. They invite us to quite a number of activities, but this is one that I don't miss if I can help it. It's fun to connect with recently-landed MKs, enjoy new fireside recipes, and, of course, carve pumpkins.

I'll give you a minute to figure it out.
Give up?
It's a gastropod with an iPod. OK, stop looking at me that way. You already knew I was a geek...

Fiona drew her design before we even left the house, and Deborah transferred it onto her pumpkin. Aiden's pumpkin is the result of his constantly changing the specs of what he wanted while we were carving. The third eye was the icing on the cake.

In related news, the third time was a charm, and I finally was able to make a harvest in my pumpkin patch of... one pumpkin! Now most people would be disappointed to have planted three years running and only get one fruit, but I'm excited to have finally gotten ONE! Maybe I'll do even better next year...

Thar she be. What shall I carve on this one?

Monday, October 19, 2009

A hundred! And then some!

Sometime this last week, I sent my one hundredth Eisenbrauns book cover to press. I suspected I was getting close to that mark, so I sat down witht he website to figure it out. It took a little bit of doing to determine, as I excluded the books that had been reprinted (and thus, sent to press again), books that a previous designer had started, and I finished (there are my book covers), covers I did for other publishers (these are Eisenbrauns book covers), and covers for books that haven't gone to press yet.

So. Wanna see?

The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought The Old Testament in the Life of God's People The Phoenicians in Spain

I Will Speak the Riddles of Ancient Times
This one was fun (well, technically, these two, since it's a two-volume set, with different colors) once I got a hang of what the editors wanted. That's the challenge: I've produced plenty of covers that I dearly loved, but that the editors, well, didn't. One learns to shrug and keep trying. It's also one of the few instances where a major typo made it onto the cover... in the title, no less. I now have someone else proofread my covers before I send them to press!

A God So Near
The artwork isn't mine, but the rest of the cover was.

A Grammar of the Hittite Language, 1: Reference Grammar A Grammar of the Hittite Language, 2: Tutorial

These are, in fact, two separate books. They just look identical. Honest!

A Severe Mercy
I've had this idea for cover type bouncing around my head for years. I finally got to use it on this cover, which sets the style for the rest of the series.

Ancient Israel and Its Neighbors Canaan in the Second Millennium B.C.E. Ancient Israel's History and Historiography Essays on Ancient Israel in Its Near Eastern Context
In academic circles, when an esteemed scholar or professor approaches the end of his/her career, you'll often see what's called a Festschrift, literally, a "party-writing," where colleagues and students will write articles in honor of said scholar. One hopes there are other, less cerebral celebrations involved, as well, but I wouldn't know. I just design the book covers. In this case, we have three volumes of articles by Nadav Na'aman, and a Festschrift for the same. Obviously, I figured all of them should have a common visual theme.

Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles
This is, if I'm not mistaken, one of the first covers I ever did.

Babel und Bibel 2: Memoriae Igor M. Diakonoff Babel und Bibel 3
The editor didn't appreciate my attempts to liven up the series design (left), so I had to go back to the original color scheme on the next volume (right).

Beginning Biblical Hebrew
The background on this one is a piece of soapstone that's been run through a bandsaw. I love the texture!

Birkat Shalom Bridging the Gap Babylonian Oracle Questions Hittite Studies in Honor of Harry A. Hoffner Jr. on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday Images of Others Interpreting Discontinuity Introduction to Classical Ethiopic (Ge'ez) The Priest and the Great King

Bringing the Hidden to Light: The Process of Interpretation
Sometime, I really ought to write up the process of bringing this cover into being. It would be... illuminating.

Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies - BIOSCS
For many years, I was limited to two inks, for cost reasons. This series uses only two colors — orange, and blue. You wouldn't know by looking at it.

Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars Near Eastern Archaeology Now You See It, Now You Don't Old Testament Theology Adapa and the South Wind Reading the Book of Jeremiah Recent Developments in Hittite Archaeology and History Reconsidering Israel and Judah

Compendious Syriac Grammar
Oddly enough, this is one of my favorite covers. I'm not sure why.

Constituting the Community
One of the first instances where I created my own artwork for the cover, rather than using someone else's drawing or photograph.

Canaanite Religion according to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit Chosen and Unchosen Cities through the Looking Glass Community Identity in Judean Historiography Judah and the Judeans in the Persian Period Judah and the Judeans in the Fourth Century B.C.E. Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-Babylonian Period

Creation and Destruction
A lot of people tell me this is their favorite cover. I like it too. The part I'm proudest of is that I managed to convey the idea of the Chaoskampf Theory (order-land arising from the chaos-sea) using only two colors and one repeated shape.

Cult and Character
I found a guy on-line, Sven Geier, who does these amazing fractals, and lets anyone use them. This one fit the book amazingly well.

David and Zion
I had fun masking all those branches on the Tree of Life. I spent hours on that one...

Confronting the Past Critical Issues in Early Israelite History Deuteronomic Theology and the Significance of Torah Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine,   1000-586 BCE Early Ancient Near Eastern Law Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language, Volume 4 Agriculture in Iron Age Israel Milk and Honey

Exploring the Longue Duree
Another cover people have told me they really like. Apparently, I do seascapes well.

From Cyrus to Alexander From Cyrus to Alexander
One of my first "major" covers, in cloth and paperback. Those Persian warriors have since shown up in many. many places. One year, I suggested we make full-size cutouts of these guys, and have a place where you could put your head and poses as them. It was rejected because they thought people would actually do it...

From the Banks of the Euphrates From the Rivers of Babylon to the Highlands of Judah Law from the Tigris to the Tiber
From this river to that one...

Letters from Assyrian Scholars to the Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal Letters from Assyrian Scholars to the Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal
...and these scholar to those kings.

Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch Irenaeus and Genesis Israel's Past in Present Research Johnson Speaks to Us Journal of Theological Interpretation Lahav I. Pottery and Politics Le-David Maskil Leaving No Stones Unturned

Mishneh Todah
I later asked what the provided graphic of pottery and plants had to do with the subject. I don't recall that anyone knew.

Representations of Political Power
I had fun with this one, representing the "degrading social order" in the ancient near east in as close as I've ever gotten to "grunge" on an academic book cover.

Ashkelon 1 Ashkelon 2 Legends of the Kings of Akkade A Manual of Ugaritic

Ritual in Narrative
An early favorite, and the first use (that I know of) of stock photography on Eisencovers.

Sacred History, Sacred Literature Sacred Marriages Sacred Time, Sacred Place
Some things are Sacred. Some, doubly so.

Seeking Out the Wisdom of the Ancients
Some people say this one's boring. Me? I love the type.

Sefer Moshe: The Moshe Weinfeld Jubilee Volume
You can direct traffic with this cover.

Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past Text and History The Archaeology of the Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine The Biblical Saga of King David The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History The City of Ugarit at Tell Ras Shamra

The Eden Narrative
The author (in good humor) complained that more people were complimenting him on the cover than on the book. Sorry, Tryggve! I'll make 'em uglier next time.

The Edited Bible
For once, it was appropriate to break out the funky typewriter fonts!

The End of Wisdom
I put so much into this one. I created this beautiful epicrystallograph of a leaf I found in the yard, and then made up the word "Epicystallograph" (Greek, "writing against the glass") because "putting it on the scanner" just didn't communicate what I wanted. As people have since pointed out, making up words doesn't necessarily communicate, either. But, I still hold out some hope for my little neologism. I wished I could have used a metallic purple ink on this one — it would have given the leaf a sort of ethereal sheen — but I found out at the last minute that there's a heavy surcharge for using metallic inks. Bummer. I still love the way it came out, even if my vision was grander.

The Pentateuch as Torah
Here's another one where I really ought to write up the process of creation. I think the part that took the cake was when the editors insisted that, despite all the time I'd spent removing the text, they could definitely tell that it was from the gret Isaiah scroll from Qumran, and that they'd really prefer to have a section from the Pentateuch on there. Hence the addition of the fragment by the title...

The Reconstructed Chronology of the Divided Kingdom
Part of this cover involved a trip to the hardware store, and a puzzled clerk wondering what good three feet of rope was, and why I didn't want the ends dipped so that they wouldn't come apart.

The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles The Retelling of Chronicles in Jewish Tradition and Literature The Sanctuary of Silence Ugarit at Seventy-Five War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century A Syriac Lexicon


There's also a bunch where I frankly no longer remember if I did them or not:

I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood Joseph: A Story of Divine Providence Letters to the King of Mari Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography

...and a bunch I did for other publishers:

In Search of a Cultural Identity Legends, Tales, and Fables in the Art of Sogdiana Mediaeval Persian Painting Omar Khayyam the Mathematician Religion in Iran Sasanian Society well as a bunch of catalog covers and such, but I'm not counting those categories here.

Looking over this list, I'm not sure what to think. This represents ten years of a small part of my life, and in retrospect, I can't honestly say if it's well-spent, mis-spent, or just... spent. While it has some lasting value (in the sense that it's been a way to keep a roof over our heads, and food on the table) there's nothing about any of this work that would outlast one good fire. In spite of that, I have to admit: I enjoyed it.

On to the next hundred!