I work best with existing material—whether that be images, ideas, spreadsheets, documentation, books, etc. That existing material defines the boundaries I need to create something more. When I stumble across a nice chunk of material that has those boundaries (like an old unique book), excitement really sets in. This is what I felt when I found Nicolas Bion’s treatise on mathematical instruments from 1709.
Way back in 2014, a Dutch manuscript from about mixing watercolors from 1692 made a splash in the blogosphere, because while it was centuries old, few had given it much attention and it was such a beautifully preserved thorough account of how watercolors were mixed back then. Ever since then, I thought it had potential as a fun project but avoided creating one due to language barriers and other reasons that turned out to be unfounded.
The digital edition of Iconographic Encyclopædia from 1851 was by far, the largest and longest project I’ve undertaken. Comprising 500 plates, more than 13,000 illustrations, 1.6 million words, and spanning 13 months, it was a wonderful exercise in creativity and patience.