Archive for the ‘Books’ category

On humility….

March 2, 2016

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Yes, that’s a litter box under my press. As Tennyson fades into extreme old age, he chose the space where I kept my rags under my press as his salle de bain, so it seemed to make sense to move his litter there. Also, using an antique section of banister, we are able to keep the dogs from devouring the contents of the litter, which is simply gross and where I draw the line at humility. It means as I work on getting the type printing just right or fighting with make-ready on wood engravings, I catch the occasional whiff of…. Is it me? Surely not! Ahhh, the cat.

The press, being both the source of beauty, elegance and style – and Tennyson’s depository – does bring me down to earth when things are going well, as they have been for the past year or so. In 2015, I received word that the University of Toronto’s Fisher Library wanted to acquire all books and broadsides printed to date, with a keen interest in anything else I come up with.

The year also saw me blaze through 20 shows: indoor with table or booth, and outdoor under tent. These shows were on the whole very successful, and just a few changes I will be repeating the same number in 2016. Shows are a wonderful way to meet new people, and to keep up with friends and collectors.

As for what shows I’ll be doing, I’ll be adding a page to this blog, but a listing will also appear in my newly reinvigorated website, complete with an on-line store for prints, all to be found at www.greyweatherspress.com

The biggest news this year will be the release of the most ambitious project yet from the press: Ecclesiastes. Yes, Greyweathers Press is getting biblical, with a heft that will weigh in at an estimated 80 pages of beautiful Arches Text Wove, illustrated with 60 odd wood engravings. Stay tuned, a detailed announcement is forthcoming.

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An early draft of the title page design.

So with all of this activity, Tennyson’s periodic visits to my press keep me from getting too full of myself, and rightly so. It is all about the work, after all, and not the accolades.

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Book Arts & Small Press Show in Toronto

August 21, 2015

Two years ago I had the privilege to show my books in the womb of the Fisher Rare Book Library at University of Toronto. It’s happening again on September 12, 2015 from 10 to 5 pm at 120 St. George Street in Toronto, Canada. For more info, click here.

A view of what participants and attendees of the Fisher Small and Fine Press Fair see all day.

A view of what participants and attendees of the Fisher Small and Fine Press Fair see all day.

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Rabbits Unwrapped – Winona Linn

May 17, 2015

Periodically over future posts, I’ll be deconstructing the process I used for  the illustrations of Winona Linn’s collection of poems, The Truth About Rabbits, but I thought I’d introduce you to the shakers and movers of this project.

First and foremost, we have Winona Linn, a young woman who is certainly making a name for herself. When I say she’s a Kingston-based poet, I beg you to take that in the loosest manner possible, since she floats between Kingston, Paris and other worldly points.

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One of the benefits of having one’s own press is that one may print what one likes  (and you have to say it like that, first person singular pronoun, with a really snobby accent). So I won’t go on and on about the quality of Winona’s poems; if I  didn’t like them, I’d have passed on the opportunity to illustrate them. I will say that these poems are smart, sharp, poignant and witty with refreshingly light-hearted, self-deprecating moments. It is those latter aspects  that conjured images for me from her verse. You see, it has been a very long and dark couple of years; if I had been writing and performing poetry during that time, I would have fit right in with most of the poetry scene – a lot of dark emoting. In fact, I only made one illustration for a book a year or so prior to Rabbits, also for Thee Hell Box Press. Here is that one:

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Linocut illustration from Shane Neilson’s Out of the Mouth 2014 Thee Hellbox Press.

Well. Enough said. There’s plenty in Winona’s vivid imagery to conjure dark images, but (to rip off another poet) ‘I am half-sick of shadows’, so instead I’ve done a lewd Starbuck’s logo, a crow who is about to (or has just) pooped cherries on our poet, a toaster slowly browning a copy of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar,  young lovers in a church etc. Periodically I’ll blog about the imagery that inspired the illustration, and the sometimes bizarre route I took to creating them.

I should note here that Winona does not only excel at writing and performing her own poetry, but she is an illustrator and artist of some force. Prior to her departure for Paris after Rabbits launched, she showed me some of her linocuts…. All I’ll say is that I’m hoping I get the chance to work again with this amazing artist.

 

Playing With Titles

May 12, 2015

Planning is ongoing for future projects, and so is the play-time associated with the design of the titles. Here are three examples; which one do you like?

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I’m thinking the above works, but it begs the question: what is so important about the big E.S. (other than it fits in the middle and end)

 

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Not bad, again it looks cool, but comprehension is somewhat lacking. Then again, if you don’t know Ecclesiastes from the first 3 or 4 letters, there’s another comprehension problem. This model at least begs for a long, thin engraving on the reverse page, as you can see the spread is shaping out.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 6.42.41 PMAnd this works as well, in that at least the change in direction does not follow in a “mid-word” crossover, like crossword puzzles. It opens the option for an illustration in the white space, or some text play, or just white space!

 

A Joyful Collaboration: The Truth About Rabbits

May 2, 2015

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It is our great pleasure to announce the release of a book of poems by Winona Linn, The Truth About Rabbits. These edgy, intelligent and humorous poems have been set by hand in metal type by Thee Hellbox Press in Kingston, with wood engravings  cut and printed by Larry Thompson of Greyweathers Press — a joyous collaboration of word, type and image.

The Truth About Rabbits
Poems by Winona Linn
Wood engravings by Larry ThompsonJointly published by Thee Hellbox Press and Greyweathers Press
Hand set in type in the Garamond face printed by Hugh Barclay at Thee Hellbox Press
Wood engravings printed by Larry Thompson at Greyweathers Press
Dimensions: 10.5 x 10″ tall. 20 pages on St. Armand paper
142 copies

$75

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2015: A Fresh Start

January 10, 2015

Ohhh, look! I’ve got a blog! I should really use it…

So, a new year and an energized press. By way of explanation, the last couple of (bookless) years have been a time of thought and entrenchment, crisis and recovery. With Greyweathers Press’ 10th anniversary this year, it is time to rip loose. For starters, I’m going back a couple of years to a project that ground to a halt in media res, a little Gothic Trifle with the rather clunky title of The Necromancer and the Seventh Daughter. A while back the title seemed fine, but now with the popularity of The Hobbit, the term ‘necromancer’ is known wide and far. Oh well. The original title used ‘sorcerer’, another word now famous, or rather infamous, considering real people burned with this brand are losing the heads in Saudi Arabia!

This is the second foray with Septima, her first being centered on dispatching a high-born vampire who was drinking her way though all the beautiful youth of the City. (There are still a couple of copies available.)

Now, keeping up with trends, it’s zombies, a festering golem, and something of an environmental message, along with Septima’s spunky “don’t fuss with me” girl-power attitude (a la Buffy & Joss Whedon). Setting type began just over a year ago, so that will resume, with my attention now on illustrations. Below are five of eight thumbnail sketches and an idea of what I’m thinking for Septima: The Sequel.

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Sketches are very rough, the finishing will be done on the block. It is similar to what an inker does for the art in a comic book. In this case, it’s kind of hard seeing Septima standing there wearing an ironic look at something very tall. I added the stone cobbles behind her to help with perspective even though in this sketch it fights with the mummy-like wrappings she wears. I’ll work it out on the block.

Septima does a lot of running in this story. I found the image of a leaping runner going flat out; actually, this its more of a ballet prance than a sprint, but it looks as though she's goin' like stink! I may add a few zombie hands reaching out from the right side. We'll see.

Septima does a lot of running in this story. I found the image of a leaping runner going flat out; actually, this its more of a ballet leap than a sprint, but it looks as though she’s goin’ like stink! I may add a few zombie hands reaching out from the right side. We’ll see. The dress needs work – lots of ripples and wrinkles to show movement.

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The Ghost Fleet that threatens the City. A rough re-working of another image, probably of the Black Fleet, again from Tolkien. I will probably embellish the ships with dragon heads and skulls etc. The dramatic sky will give me a chance to try out my newly acquired multiple liner.

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And that’s just the eyes and forehead. So it’s really, really big, consideting there’s Septima, the wee little thing, down at the bottom. She’ll be tricky to get right… it only takes about six or eight tiny cuts to do a figure that small, so every one has to be perfect. Might use my big doughnut magnifier on this one. The letters on the forehead are backwards for a reason.

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Septima spends a lot of time in this installment crawling around in sewage, so her reward for saving the City and her family (AGAIN) is to be hustled off to a vigorous bath. I thought it was kind of funny at the time, until considering how to illustrate with propriety a 15 year old superhero in the bath. The solution is lots of bubbles, and just enough expression on her face to show her what she thinks about it. Of course, how I’m going to carve bubbles from wood is anybodies guess, but we’ll get there.

Zombies at Greyweathers Press

December 8, 2013
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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.

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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.

 

 

Family History – Part Eight

October 15, 2013
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Hard bound 21st century printed edition of the Family History.

[READ PART SEVEN]

For the 21st century edition of Joshua’s Family History, we decided to do a limited run off a high speed laser printer, and primarily in black and white, given the extreme cost of full colour digital printing.

The text was spooled into Adobe InDesign, composed in Garamond BE with titles in Centaur. I chose Garamond BE because it was quite readable, and came complete with old style figures and small capitals and titling figures. Designing a book is like building a house:you start at the foundation and work your way up to the roof. Likewise in a book, you begin with the style of the type, amending typographic issues, factoring in footnotes and superscript figures etc. In many cases special fonts, italics and old style figures can be fixed using mass Find/Replace. Before any work begins, style sheets are created so that if a style change is made in one part of the book, it will automatically change in all the other parts, saving a massive amount of work. Photos and illustrations were scanned at a high resolution, then edited in Photoshop for clarity, sharpness and to correct lightness and darkness issues that happen in the scanning process. The end goal is to have a book that possesses the qualities one expects from a professionally designed book, and I’m satisfied with the result, although, as always, I would do some things differently had I the chance.

The printed edition is $45 plus gst & shipping.

It was printed at Impression Printing in Smiths Falls, Ontario.

Bound at Smiths Falls Bookbinding.

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Page spread: body text in 12 pt Garamond BE, titles in Centaur with appropriate leading and generous margins.

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

Family History – Part Seven

October 15, 2013
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The Family History – typeset, printed and bound.

[READ PART SIX]

Part Seven

As mentioned earlier, Joshua’s Family History has been transcribed, printed and bound into a new edition, with a limited run of 20 copies.

I should emphasize that this effort was strictly a transcription of Joshua’s work, as opposed to a revision, rewritten or heavily edited version, done with as few editorial intrusions as possible, with changes made only for blatant errors that, presumably, Joshua would have been grateful to see eliminated. Regrettably, in the process of typesetting and laying out the text, other typographical errors have come into being. Most historical spelling and usage has been preserved. In many cases, large blocks of text have been broken into paragraphs to make it easier to read. I have also corrected some archaic misspellings and usage and very occasionally rearranged somewhat arbitrary headings and sub-headings into a more consistent and coherent order.

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

Family History – Part Six

October 15, 2013
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Family portrait of Dr. Charles Walden Thompson, Joshua’s son.

[READ PART FIVE]

Part Six

Joshua confesses some of his own faults – his quick temper, for example, apparently a family trait; others can be deduced through his writings – pride perhaps. Still, his tone is reflective and contemplative – that of a man looking back on his own and his family’s life in the hope of creating a legacy. His zealous pen cannot conceal the deeply felt grief for parents, siblings and children long dead, or his obvious pride in his surviving children and grandchildren. In undertaking this great task, Joshua’s motivation must have been love; indeed, he loved his family so much that he dedicated years of his life revisiting a great deal of loss and sorrow by creating a written record to preserve their legacy for them, and for their descendants. Some brief updates and notes appear in the manuscript, made by Joshua, and later by his son Dr. C. W. Thompson. They end around 1920.

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


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