Lesley Dill

The Thrill Came Slowly

Lesley Dill

The Thrill Came Slowly



Edition Size



Handmade paper, Ink, Letterpress


Japanese silk tissue


Hand-sewn, Stab


12 × 9.25 in

View Collectors

Boston Athenaeum

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)

National Gallery of Art Library

New York University (NYU)

Rhode Island School of Design, The RISD Museum

The New York Public Library (NYPL)

University of Central Florida (UCF)

Walker Art Center

Made with Japanese rice paper and hand-tied threads, The Thrill Came Slowly is overtly delicate, but its title, after an Emily Dickinson poem, hits like a bomb.

Paging through a series of uncanny images, the reader must take care not to tear the tissue-thin pages, fostering what Dill describes as “protective” and “nourishing” feelings towards the book. At the same time, Dill provides a challenge in the (mostly) illegible text.

Many of the book’s images, from original photographs staged and taken by Dill, illustrate aspects of the artistic process. On the opening page, a figure empties his eyes of all the images taken in a day. A later page, with its hanging figure, could be said to illustrate Dill’s idea that “We are animals of words …. If you were to cut us open anywhere, what would come out would not be just blood and organs, but also language “*

The Thrill Came Slowly has been dubbed the best artist’s book of the ’90s by May Castleberry, Editor of Contemporary Editions at the Library Council of Museum of Modern Art.

Printed on Japanese silk tissue from photopolymer plates. Text created from hand-manipulated wood type with half-tone images augmented with applications of shellac, ink-solvent mixture, and hand-sewn threads. Wire closure.

*As cited by Nancy Princenthal in her 2001 piece “Deep Breathing.”