Posted tagged ‘book arts’

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.

wraps

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.

dark_ships

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.

golem

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.

bath

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.

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Zombies at Greyweathers Press

December 8, 2013
IMG_0673

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.

firstpage

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.

 

 

Small & Private Presses at the Fisher Library, U of Toronto

September 22, 2013
Five flights of WOW at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

Five flights of WOW at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. Taken at the exhibition level, and imagine turning another 45 degrees in each direction and seeing more of the same.

This past summer the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library ran an exhibition titled “A Death Greatly Exaggerated,” referencing the famous quote by Mark Twain who, one day, was amused to read his own obituary. For the exhibit, it refers to the printed book about which we have all heard dire pronouncements and grim prognostications. It featured examples from private presses and small presses from the past half century or so, culled from the Fisher’s own collections.

On the day that the exhibition was set to wrap, Saturday September 7th, the librarians decided to hold a show of private presses and small presses in the spacious room that literally lies at the bottom of a tower of books rising up five flights on almost all sides, these books being the Thomas Fisher Library collection — a collection that includes a First Folio of Shakespeare’s works, and a world-class collection of Alice books and ephemera. Yup, that’s Alice of Wonderland fame.

Greyweathers Press was very pleased and honoured to have been included in this fine show. My small table was nestled between Alan Stein on one side and Hugh Barclay (Thee Hellbox Press) on the other. Other notables from the fine press community included George Walker (who some years back illustrated a limited edition run of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass), Will Reuter of Aliquando Press, and Shanty Bay Press, amongst others. One thing I liked about this show was the presence of writers and publishers from the small press community. It made for a good mix, but reminded me how woefully ignorant I am of some of these presses, and of the important work they do to carry on a cultural and literary duty. Visitors to book arts show will know of Porcupine’s Quill, but also in attendance were poet-publishers such as Ottawa poet rob mclennan with poet-book conservator wife, Christine McNair.

In spite of inclement weather, a steady crowd streamed through all day, and everyone seemed to have a good time. But the real star of the day was the venue – the rare book collection all ’round us while we talked about and sold our books.

View from the show floor of the stacks, with Tintern Abbey on the left and Tenebrismo on the right, in the foreground.

View from the show floor of the stacks, with Tintern Abbey on the left and Tenebrismo on the right, in the foreground.

One visitor wondered if we (the exhibitors) had access to the books. I laughed, imagining the pandemonium that would ensue with two dozen crazed book fiends on the loose, were that ever to be permitted! No, the stacks are, very correctly, secured from public access. Requests are directed through staff who then retrieve the books to be – depending on the book – examined in a supervised reading room.

 

Exhibition opens at the General in Almonte

September 3, 2013

If it’s autumn, then it’s the season for shows and exhibits. Holly and I have our work at The General in Almonte, Ontario for the duration of an exhibition called “Text Me!” The theme is right up our alley. It is a beautiful shop/gallery. The opening is this coming Friday, September 6th.

For more information on the General, click HERE.

The General Storefront in Almonte, Ontario

The General storefront in Almonte, Ontario. How a village in rural 19th century Ontario came to be named for General Juan Almonte is a bit of a story, but the store in named in honour of him as well. There is a extraordinary glass etching of Almonte over the door.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Book Arts at the Fisher Rare Book Library

September 3, 2013
F6698 (rueter_tunnel)

Tunnel book by Wil Reuter, Aliquando Press

I am rather excited to be included in a swiftly organized show at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto on September 7. This show corresponds with the end of an exhibition called “A Death Greatly Exaggerated”, using Twain’s famous retort in context with the dire prognostications on the future of the printed book. There are details on their WEBSITE, and I’ve also included a great video which pretty much sums up the exhibition.

Exhibition – Contemporary Book Arts in Eastern Ontario

February 9, 2013

We are very honoured to be a part of an exhibition set to open at the Douglas Library at Queen’s University. I have studied under and with some of these participating artists, and many I consider my peers and friends, but they all inspire me. This exhibition was conceived by Margaret Lock of Locks Press (Kingston), and I have been helping out as a co-ordinator. Jeff Macklin, a letterpress printer from Peterborough, Ontario (Jackson Creek Press) designed the catalogue and the poster.

There will be an opening reception on March 7 between 5 pm & 6:30 pm. The details are below. If you are in the Kingston area, drop in and see this extraordinary collection of books.

Queens Bookarts Poster FINAL


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