Measure twice, print once

Posted December 13, 2013 by Larry
Categories: Book Design, Fine Press Printing, Letterpress printing, Typography

Tags: , , , , ,

IMG_0661 LR

There is always the temptation to just throw the type down and print. But for the last few days, I’ve been setting and dissing type on the zombie book, working out the letter and word length for the fully justified columns of text. No ink involved at all. It’s important because there is no way this time that I will be able to set the entire text with the limited type that I have; page one on the press may face page four, so working out all problems in advance is the way to go. Also, setting and dissing the odd paragraph in different sizes helps me get reacquainted with the medium — it has been awhile since I did much creative work on the press (year round-up report coming later in the month). The good news is that I seem to have worked out most of the typographic spacing issues, and that’s thanks in part to using Adobe software (Indesign) to create my page layout and dummy. It allows me to parse the type to match very closely the metal type and thus, if the moon and stars align, it becomes a simple way to impose and paginate the text. It should work; I’ll keep you posted!

Zombies at Greyweathers Press

Posted December 8, 2013 by Larry
Categories: Book Design, Book Making, Books, Letterpress printing, Typography, Writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Laser printed layout dummy for the first page. The square beneath the drop cap shows spacing for a long, narrow illustration.

And so production begins on The Necromancer and the Seventh Daughter, the sequel to the popular Vampire & the Seventh Daughter that we printed a few years ago. I didn’t start the press for vanity purposes, but once in a while it is satisfying to watch one’s own words roll of the press. These “Gothick Trifles” as I call them harken back to my reading and viewing roots in sci fi, horror and fantasy literature so I consider these works more than most personal projects.


This was the title page for the first book. In it, we are introduced to Septima who, being a 7th daughter of a 7th daughter, has some extraordinary powers, and a particular brand of pugnacious courage that is a particular nuisance and foil to baddies. The baddy in that story was the vampire princess who was eating through her serving staff, and for some reason her father the king didn’t seem all that alarmed. Enter Septima and, well, it’s a fable so I’m hardly spoiling it to say that things go poorly for the vampire. This is often the case.

The second Gothick Trifle is longer, about 2,000 words and a bit more complex. I wanted to play with the story of the golem, but also work in some kind of environmental comment, and zombies, because, well, you know, zombies are hot.It may have been a bit too many devices for once very short fable, but there you go. The first draft was about 3,500 words. Even after crunching it down and taking out all the stuff I really liked, it still took about about 700 words of back story before Septima even got mentioned, so I rewrote the whole so that she came in at the beginning, and a little sooner in the story.

The first one had four pretty simple linocuts. This one will have perhaps eight wood engravings, or so that is my intention now.  I’ve doubled the paper (it will be sixteen pages as opposed to the previous eight) but I still thought I’d have to set in 10 point, but as it turns out, a little more judicious editing (the first draft was 3,500 words) and cutting a couple of illustrations means 12 point will work, which makes the setting job easier. Naturally, it will be hand set lead type, our house face, Italian Oldstyle. While I work on the type and engravings and printing, I’ll be pondering the binding, which I may do the same as the last one, or try something different entirely. I’m hoping for an edition of 75.



Wood Engraving – Craft Show Productivity

Posted November 15, 2013 by Larry
Categories: Selling, Shows, Wood Engraving

At the most recent craft sale, Holly and I set the booth up so I would have a little table to work on for cutting engravings or linoleum. I will always do this in the future, if there is any room at all in the booth. People are interested and astonished by the process, it makes the shows bearable during the lulls and it looks more productive than thumbing away on an iPhone. I suppose the amount of cutting that gets done is directly proportional to the truck and trade passing thought the aisles, but so it goes. I finished three engravings during the five day show: one was a demo block that I had been chopping away at  through the summer and fall shows, and finally ‘finished’ into a kind of abstract.

1.25" x 4" size

1.25″ x 4″ size cut on resingrave block

My next exercise was to explore the relation of light and dark in skin tones using lines, with interesting effect but needing more attention.


Proof and endgrain maple block  2.25″ x 3.25″

And finally, those who follow this blog may have read about a recent personal project involving my family history. Earlier in the summer, I sketched a pencil drawing of my ancestor, based on his photograph, onto a block. While idling at the show, I inked in the pencil drawing to indicate areas of black, gray and white, while ignoring the background for the moment.


Following the advise of some wise engravers, I began with the most difficult areas first, the face, hands and the lines of the coat, and the wrinkles in the bent arm. For the arm in particular, I went in with the fine tipped marker and clarified precisely the wrinkles. After completing the figure, I cut the chair and table, then had my fanciful way with the background. My only agenda there was to create a contrasting backdrop that was somewhat lighter and more graphic than the very tonal figure and face.


Block size 2″ x 3.25″

And the result:


I like it, although it needs some work still. The background work fine, and I am very pleased with the face, beard and hands — faces and hands are tricky. I wish I had left more shadow in the crook of the arm and along the breast, the contours of which seem wrong. The lower portion of the coat is almost perfect, and the pants worked out pretty well. There are some amateur errors — my graver slipped more than once along old Joshua’s forehead, which I assure you pained me more than it did him. In retrospect I might have done something more with the white space behind the chair, even just some visual noise, but there you go. In the original photo, Joshua has some unruly bed-head action going on, clearly a familial trait that has passed on to his great-great-grandson, so I preserved that element.

I cut myself some slack, since this is only the ninth or tenth illustrative engraving I’ve tried my hand at, and am still flailing around a bit as I adjust to the tools and the new medium. But it’s definitely coming along, and the possibilities in detail offered by the medium are pretty exciting.

Show and Sell – Back from the shows

Posted November 14, 2013 by Larry
Categories: Illustration, Musings, Selling, Shows

The Eagle Point Winery show proved a very good show for me. Part of this is the good company I had in the board room, with John Sorensen’s wonderful paintings on the walls and sharing the massive table with potter Linda Hynes. Both are friends of long standing so it made doing the show a lot of fun, but people were buying as well, so all good. This is in a way an extension of the table shows that make up the book arts scene. The usual tables (approx 6″ x 3″) don’t have a lot of room for prints, but I was able to use the great depth of this table to layer prints: standing at the back against Linda’s display, then propped, then flat and finally the books out in front. In a standing position before the table, customers have free access to the books, but a bird’s eye view of all the prints. Simple but effective. The show had a heavy mix of fine art and fine craft, twelve exhibitors in all, arranged around the impressive winery.


All set up at the Eagle Point Winery show.

Back home from Eagle Point Winery, I had one day to turn around before setting up at the Nepean Sportsplex for the Nepean Craft Christmas Sale. This five day show is definitely in the craft domain, with mostly crafts, including a lots of jewellery and food – a definite trend in the craft circuit. I juried in promising to use our hard walls; they look amazing, with lighting nested into valances mounted atop 7 foot tall walls. Everything fastens together with clamps, however it was designed to fit into a 5 x 15 space. It will articulate, as in this case to a 10′ x 10′ space, but no matter what, it takes a lot of work to set up, particularly when two strongly opinionated people are involved. All of that, and a rental van to get the booth to the show, and back home again at the end. Also, we had to buy rugs to put down on the bare boards that are the only thing separating the booth and work from the arena ice surface. I stopped and wondered what it might be like to have the show right on the ice with everyone skating around to the booths – a reminder that not all ideas are good ones. It’s a chilly show to do, but now having seen the upper salons, admittedly warmer, I still much prefer the arena.

Hard walls decked with prints at the Nepean Craft Christmas Show.

Deck the hard walls with prints by Larry at the Nepean Craft Christmas Show.

I’m starting up with craft shows because I want to increase the profile of my press in the region, and because I hope with prints my price point will be attractive to the clientele at these shows. So far, I’ve had mixed results. One thing is for certain, at Christmas shows, any sales I make are impulse buys and often, but not always, the customer is buying for themselves. I’ve been doing the book arts shows and studio tour much longer, seven or eight years now, and people are coming and buying because they expect me to be there. Given time, and better economic times, this should happen at the craft shows.


Orrery-orrey-orrey-o… it’s off to work I go!

Posted October 24, 2013 by Larry
Categories: Antiques

Tags: , ,
Nice turnings!

Nice turnings!

One of the many interesting things I do to cobble together a living is writing, usually about really old things… I mean antiques. On occasion I write articles for antiques trade newspapers and magazines, sometimes interviewing collectors or dealers, but mostly covering shows and auctions. My work reads a bit like the illegitimate offspring of the sports page and the stock market report, living in sin with the Arts pages. There really ain’t nothin’ like the antiques biz.

Last weekend I was covering an auction, which is normal because if it’s Holly birthday, I am almost always hitting a deadline of one kind or another, or off in some hall somewhere in an uncomfortable seat, watching other people buy really expensive and really quite beautiful things. Hey, it’s better than most TV and almost all movies right now. But I haven’t been around for many of Holly’s birthdays. This time, however, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I was able to cover the auction – even from a rather remote wilderness location – and still be home for cake.

The Albright auction, held by Anderson Auctions this past weekend in Elora, Ontario, had simultaneous on-line bidding, so I was able to monitor the action and get a record of all the prices realized. (Getting reliable sell prices is trickier than you might think). So, check in on the action, then head to the studio to build a slip case for a trilogy of books. Refresh the browser, then meander into the village to buy a birthday card for Holly. Back to the computer, save the web pages as PDFs, and so on. Gotta love it! Of course, that’s just the foundation. I’m in the midst of follow-up interviews, some analysis, then it will be time to sit down and write the thing.

Normally I wouldn’t pull a spoiler on any work that I do, but this is more of a teaser. The Albright Sale was a fine old Canadiana collection, from the home of long-time collectors and dealers, and folks who really seemed to know their stuff. Canadiana Eclectic, is the best way to describe it. In keeping with this idea, one very cool item in the auction was this vintage rather primitive orrery, in working order apparently, that tracks the motion of the planets as it swings about. My inner twelve-year-old thought it was the coolest thing in the sale. My outer 40-something-too-too-close-to-50 will probably examine more significant pieces in the coverage, but there you go.

The article will come out in The Upper Canadian Antiques Showcase at some point in the not-to-distant future, in a galaxy near you.

And happy birthday Holly. Glad I could be here for it!

Art, Books & Wine – Eagle Point Winery Show

Posted October 21, 2013 by Larry
Categories: Art, Exhibitions, Galleries, Promotion, Shows


IMG_2331 copy

Yes, it is show season here at Greyweathers Press, so the next several posts will be about shows, doing them and, yes, promoting them. Just warning you.

The next one up is a new one for me. It takes place at a winery near Mallorytown, Ontario – Eagle Point Winery on November 2 & 3, 2013. The venue is terrific, located in the scenic countryside, rolling hills, and, of course, wine. Here’s the goods:

Before the Rush – an art show at Eagle Point Winery

Eagle Point Winery in partnership with organizers; John Sorensen and Betty Matthew is proud to present an exciting new art show, “Before the Rush”.  View local and selected guest artists in the intimate and unique setting of Eagle Point Winery, Nov. 2nd and 3rd. Take a break “before the rush” of the Christmas season to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow art and wine lovers at Eagle Point Winery.

Local artists; Terry Schaub (stone sculptor), Sue Hale-Ladouceur (fabric folk artist), Ingrid Schmidt (painter, sculptor), John Shea (water colour artist),  Lea Hamblett  (wearable art jewellery), Winona Elliott-Schep (encaustic wax artist),  John Sorensen (oil painter, “found art”), Betty Matthews (water colours and acrylic painter) and special guest artists; Linda Hynes (potter, Smith’s Falls), Larry Thompson (book builder and wood block prints, Merrickville), Herman Ruhland (sculptor of found objects, North Gower), and Kirei Samuel, (glass artist, Prince Edward Cy.) combine to make a unique event in a special setting at our local Eagle Point Winery.

WHEN:    November 2nd and 3rd, 2013 from 11 am to 6 pm
WHERE:    Eagle Point Winery, 337 Escott/Rockport Road

Family History – Part Nine

Posted October 15, 2013 by Larry
Categories: Uncategorized


Restored Family History complete with clamshell box.


Part Nine

At the time of transcription, the original copy the Family History was in a state of some distress. Acidic paper and cover material caused yellowing pages, crumbling spine and severe deterioration of the binding; this is normal for paper matter from the 19th and 20th centuries. The original book has been restored and stabilized by Natasha Herman of the Redbone Bindery (Amsterdam), with the ultimate intent to deposit it with the Lennox & Addington Museum and Archives of Napanee, Ontario where it will be stored safely in suitable conditions, close to the Thompson family’s point of origin in Canada.

Part One |Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers

%d bloggers like this: