When British designer Jeremy May and his wife were celebrating their first wedding anniversary – the paper anniversary – he wanted to give her something really special. So he got to work making her a laminated paper ring using the pages of her favorite book. The result was an extraordinary piece of jewelry that subsequently launched an entire collection of literary jewels.
Jeremy founded Littlefly Jewelry in 2009 and quickly developed a fan base of bibliophiles from all over the world by capturing the beauty of books in a way that no one had done before.
As with that very first paper ring for his wife, he makes all Littlefly Jewels by hand from the pages of books that his customers choose. The story of a particular book is what inspires his individual designs, so, in the end, each piece of jewelry is impossible to replicate, and is unique to the wearer.
Once Jeremy receives the book title from a customer, he then tracks down a suitable copy to work from at flea markets and book stores. In sourcing his “raw material,” he has three criteria: used, in good condition, and thick.
“Paper is many things: a carrier of text, illustration, history and emotion.” – Jeremy May
His process, which runs about 8 weeks per piece, starts with an original sketch, which he then lays out and traces on the first page of the book. Next, he begins the painstaking task of cutting that same design out of hundreds of individual pages from that same book… it takes him roughly 1.5 hours to cut 50 pages. Jeremy enhances each design by adding colored paper in amongst the book pages.
Each layer of cut paper is stacked and glued individually in a proprietary lamination process that gives the final piece of jewelry incredible strength and density. Once the glue dries, Jeremy carefully smooths and polishes each piece, finishing it with several coats of high gloss varnish. The end product is like wood, which really brings the life of the book’s pages full circle.
Of his work, Jeremy says, “The beauty of the jewels extends within the piece: text and images pass all the way though the object, only exposed at the surfaces – giving a tantalising glimpse of the book within.”
As an added layer of reverence for the printed word, each piece of finished jewelry is inserted back into the excavated space of the book from which it was created, making the most spectacular presentation box.
Lead image: ring made from a copy of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre