Kilburn Wood Engravings

December and January are gone, and it looks like February will be a printing month, or at least partially. I’m anxious to try out the newly de-glazed rollers on some type, to see if it makes a difference.

The next project will be the Kilburn portfolio. I can’t remember if I blogged about this or not in the past, but over a year ago, a stalwart citizen of Merrickville visited me in my studio, and showed me a display box of 19th century wood engravings that she picked up at an antiques store in Brockville. One block identified the maker, one assumes, as S. S. Kilburn, active in the Boston area in the mid-19th century. The blocks are stunning, and preliminary experiments printing them have proved modestly successful, although it is clear that some blocks will prove to be a problem, due to warping.

In any event, I’ve decided to move forward with a portfolio of sixteen prints from the Kilburn find. And that’s how I’m going to approach the project: to discuss the discovery of these blocks and to speculate on some of the mysteries that arise from this mysterious case and its contents. The portfolio will contain prints in a limited run of 50, plus a 16 page 8 x 10 booklet with text on the find, the blocks and attributions. Several of the smaller blocks will be printed in this as well. In a few years, after more thoroughly researching Kilburn, I will assemble the blocks again and do a hard cover edition. I realize this is doing things a bit backward, but there it is. The portfolio will serve to get work out about Kilburn, and if there is any information on this Boston tradesman, hopefully it will surface over time and come to my ears. At some point, when I am more flush, I will trip down to the US and rummage around the libraries and archives there. In the meantime, an internet search and some inquiries have turned up some scant information on the man.

Last week I blocked out the page size for the booklet. It’ll be a double column deal, since the booklet will open landscape rather than portrait. I haven’t yet designed the packaging, but it would be safe to expect a nod of some sort to Victorian style. I’ll be using papers at hand in the studio, so it might be a bit of a mix, but all good papers.

Here are some of Kilburn’s engravings:

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