Posted tagged ‘books’

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.

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.

 

 

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Grimsby Wayzgoose 2013!

April 24, 2013

“Wayzgoose” is one of those old words of mysterious origin, but what is certain is that it was a time of celebration for printers, and printers are people who particularly enjoy celebrating! Today, the term is applied to  book artists to exhibit and sell their beautiful hand crafted work. And yes,  to celebrate as well.

The Wayzgoose in Grimsby, Ontario is a venerable book arts show, founded by the renown Bill Poole, and one we’ve exhibited at for the past five or six years. Once again, we’ll have a table there offering books and prints. Hope to see you!

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Remembering Tintern Abbey

May 5, 2012

Tintern Abbey from inside the nave.

It all started with our trip to England, back in October 2008. Holly and I took a rambling jaunt around the English countryside that took us from Land’s End to Yorkshire. Along the way we dipped into Wales while following the Wye River, stayed in a village called Llandago and visited with Nicolas and Frances McDowall of Old Stile Press who live just up the road from the ruins of Tintern Abbey. About 10 years go they created a simply lovely book of the poem. All their books are stunning – hand printed sometimes on paper made on site. They have an image rich website worth exploring!

The lane way to Old Stile Press, mer-person sculpture at the hairpin.

I liked Nicholas’ idea of being a ‘book builder’,  of using letterpress, fine papers and bindings as an elegantly designed platform for presenting art – both in the design of the book, and in the overt and integral use of art as illustration. I think it would be over-wrought to say that the visit changed my life, but it greatly influenced the direction I intended to take Greyweathers Press. The trip to England came at a time when I was doing some heavy thinking about printing, books, writing, art and, not to be ignored, making a living! Not that I was planning to pack it in, but there are many applications for letterpress and I believe it helps to focus. The visit to Old Stile, and three or four other likewise inspirational destinations including Eagle Press, Strawberry Press and St. Bride Library in London, provided the needed inspiration to carry on printing books.

Contemplating books, printing and art amongst the ruins. The scenic Wye River Valley that inspired Wordsworth can be seen beyond the windows.

Unlike Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, Holly and I didn’t walk “the sportive wood run wild.” Rather we stuck mostly to A466, and wandered leisurely through the roofless splendor of Tintern Abbey. The ruins of the Abbey served only to act as part of the title of Wordsworth’s poem, simply to locate him in context for his reader. However, for me they connected influential literary aspects of my distant past with present passions, forming a sort of conduit resulting ultimately in our take on Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey, making it, I suppose, the press’ legacy of our England tour.

The smallest room in Tintern Abbey was the library, about the size of a walk-in closet.

OCAD Book Arts Show Triumphant!

December 4, 2011

There’s an old joke that floats around the letterpress and book arts scene: “You never sell books at a book arts show!” It’s not really a reflection of book arts shows, but rather the challenge of selling hand printed books in general. And this year I saw lots of books selling at the OCAD Book Arts Show, and even waved goodbye to a couple of my own. One of the things I love about the OCAD show is the very obvious presence of students exhibiting their work. It brings a raw freshness to the book arts, and I am always astonished at how many young artists are being attracted by old school books and printing.

The venue is quite striking as well, as I tried to caption in my first experiment with panoramic photographic stitching, early in the show. Crowds filled the hall for most of the day. (Click photos to make them larger).

The Great Hall at OCAD in Toronto, with the Book Fair in full swing.

A less distorted view from our table at the OCAD Book Arts Show

Tintern Abbey

February 25, 2011

Planning has begun on our next book, Tintern Abbey, the celebrated poem by a celebrated poet, William Wordsworth.

Wordsworth is not my favourite Romantic poet. In fact, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and Byron all line up ahead, but he was probably more important than the others to the whole notion of Romanticism in the early 19th century.

In October of 2008, Holly and I saw the ruins of the abbey, and they are indeed wonderful, but they do not warrant even a mention in the poem. However, many critics believe the meaning-laden layers of the poem conceal the spirit of the place.

I hope to have the book finished by June, for the Ottawa Book Arts Show. Here’s a sneak peak at the progress so far:

Hey, ya gotta start somewhere!

Blow-ups Happen

September 4, 2010

Cutting template, cut sheets, final product ready to sew into the text block.

As noted earlier, I’m in the cutting and folding phase of the Graven Images book. The engravings are presented through windows cut in enveloped sheets which will be bound into the book. Every window (13 in all) must be hand cut with an Olfa knive. It is a massive amount of work, but as of tomorrow, I will have complete 25% of the whole, or enough to bind 25 copies. Naturally, there are perils (click to enlarge images):

Graven Images Update

September 3, 2010

Endlessly delayed, I am pleased to report that principle printing on Graven Images is complete. The daunting task before me know is to hand cut 325 windows into 200 sheets, which is enough to bind 25 copies of the book. (these will serve as mattes or windows for the engravings). Hopefully 25 will be enough to satisfy the market until later in October.

I still have to work out the binding, which I will be doing myself, hopefully on a shallow learning curve. Holly will be hand decorating the paper for the hard covers and the end pages, so it will look simply stunning (one thing on which I can speak with utter confidence!)


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