Posted tagged ‘Graven Images’

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


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On Shows, and Selling Books

July 27, 2012

Just one corner of the Fantasy in the Forest

It has been a week now since Holly and I set up at the Fantasy in the Forest Show. As mentioned before, this annual show is probably our favourite, set up as it is on the shores of an idyllic lake, and accessible via a single lane trail that snakes its way from the highway some kilometres distant. Visitors to the show must take a shuttle in from a parking area, and many feel it adds to the “brigadoon” quality of the experience.

Organizer Jamie Brick and his wife are planning to move the show away from the lake to a piece of land closer to the main road. It’s a good plan for many reasons, not the least being easier access for both vendors and customers, but we’ll miss the lakeside venue.

This year, we set up in Jamie’s old space, he taking over the nearly completed “chapel” that we had used for the last couple of shows. Being indoors rather than under tent makes a difference when you are displaying books and paper. It can get rather humid out-of-doors, on a lake. this year, however, it was warm and dry with cool breezes coming in off the lake.

Display of prints, framed and unframed, in my half of the room.

One view of Holly’s side, overlooking the lake.

We both had a great show this year. I sold some prints and a large framed type sampler and three books, which was a pleasant surprise. Holly sold some paintings. One never knows what will come from exhibiting; we’ve experienced every extreme. A booth show, where paintings or prints must be hung, are hard work beginning with loading the van or truck to unpacking back into the studio. (Book arts shows are easier, having just a table or two to cover). Thankfully, for the Fantasy in the Forest, it was just a couple of MINI Cooper loads, but it still took me until yesterday to get everything put away, freeing the press area for work again. We took the balance of Monday off, then played catch-up during the rest of the week.

Book display, framed wood engravings and the framed type sampler hanging from the door.

Obviously sales are important when doing these shows; we have to pay for the booth, gas to get us there and back (repeatedly this year), food and sometimes accommodation, although for this show that is not a cost. But it is also an opportunity to engage with people, to talk about the work, get feedback, and new ideas – to reacquaint with familiar collectors and hopefully meet new ones. My book sales fell into that category: a copy of Kubla Khan went to an English teacher and Coleridge enthusiast who summers on the lake; a copy of Graven Images went to a dear friend with whom we have recently reconnected – she saw the book when we visited her recently. Lastly, I was startled last year at this same show when a young teenaged girl picked up the Vampire & the Seventh Daughter and paid for it herself, from gift money. She came again this year, and bought Tenebrismo.  She came back again the following day, and we had a very articulate conversation about Kera’s poetry. It always feels good to sell limited edition hand-printed books; they are such oddities in the retail world, and only a few people understand their value, and thus their cost. A fair bit of my time at shows is spent trying to articulate this sensibility, with some success. But to meet someone so young and so enthusiastic about books and literature, well, that’s just really, really cool!

With five editions still in print, it creates a nice little display. Left to right: Graven Images, Kubla Khan, Tintern Abbey (on lectern), Tenebrismo and Vampire & the Seventh Daughter. Some framed engraving proofs from Tintern Abbey are on the wall.

Graven Images Bound, and Unleashed (at last)

October 1, 2010

One-fifth of the editon, freshly labeled.

It has been a long road, and in many ways there are still problems to solve, but for now, Graven Images is finished at last. Well, twenty copies at least. I pasted the face labels on this morning and the spine labels this afternoon.

Labels ready to be pasted onto the front cover of the book. The spine got a label also.

Also this afternoon my copy of Parenthesis (the Journal of the Fine Press Book Association) arrived like a portent to remind me just how far I have yet to go in my journey. *Sigh*  Graven Images will be but one of many, and even now as I begin to flog this book, I am looking forward and further on to the next project.

Once again, Graven Images is printed by hand on Canson Mi-Teintes paper in an edition of 100 copies. Included are thirteen mounted wood engravings, hand printed on Fabriano Accademia paper. One block perished on the press, and has been reproduced digitally from an early proof, rendered as a magnesium plate and printed as the title to the portfolio. Likewise, magnesium plates were used for two halftone illustrations. The type is Italian Oldstyle, set by hand. There is a forward describing the recent discovery and nature of the collection. Dimension: 9.25 x 12 inches, 30 pages including 14 plates. Quarter bound in cloth and paper. Price $160.

Hand binding postscript

September 28, 2010

Just a couple of bits and pics about my false start at binding Graven Images. In the end, I will bind 20 copies of the book myself, but without the aggravating pressure. I’ll get Smiths Falls Bookbinding to finish off the balance. It doesn’t look like there will be a deluxe edition coming out from the press, but customers who desire a finer binding can purchase unbound copies of the book and secure the services of a fine binder to do the work.

Relating to hand binding, I use a sewing jig and a hole template to perforate the signatures (sections).

After all the sections have been perforated, they are collated and sewing together.

I had begun making the hard cover cases before running out of time, using cover papers hand painted by Holly. (For the editions bound out-of-house, these papers were colour photocopied onto Williamsburg paper).

Assembly Begins on Graven Images

September 5, 2010

I complete cutting the windows on just a quarter of the edition this morning. Here are the results painfully known as ‘printers waste’. painful, because the paper is so damned expensive!

And the stacked up sheets ready to be folded and engravings mounted within made a cool relief sculpture:

Well, small things amuse etc.

Whenever I start an exercise like this, there is a learning curve. But the end of this morning, I was cutting like a pro. During the entire process, I lost only 6 sheets to slips, the cost being about $1 per sheet.

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!)

The home stretch… finally.

August 13, 2010

This morning, I finished the last of typesetting on Graven Images. Fourteen captions for the wood engravings themselves. This is what the type looks like after setting but before assembling on the press (click on it for more detail):

I work with the composing stick (shown on the top left of the galley tray above) in my left hand, feed type into it from the type trays with my right hand. After completing three or four lines, I transfer the contents of the stick to the galley tray, and repeat.

These captions will be spread over several pages, but for efficiency, I set the type at once, or I should say in brief spurts over a period of a few days – headers in 14 pt italic, body in 12 point, all in our Italian Oldstyle house font. It looks simple enough, but the small amount of type set out and shown above will represent about 800 passes on the press in the end. I’ll be proofing the form tomorrow, then the rest of the weekend is pretty much clobbered. So next week will be very busy on the press as I try to push this project to its conclusion. Once printed, there is the challenge of binding, but first things first.

And breath…

April 7, 2010

Time to pause and take stock. The press is clean, the table top is back on it, as we convert from press room to compositor’s station. All the type from the first sheet needs to be dissed, and the lines for the next pages set in preparation for the next assay into print. Said sheets lie interleaved, while the halftone I printed yesterday with rubber ink slowly absorbs into the paper. The sheet isn’t finished yet. I am waiting for an ISBN number before I can set and print the dedication page. But a big part of the project is finished. I’d say I’m about a third of the way through it.

Overall, I’m mostly pleased with the work. There are lessons learned the hard way, but we are on course.

To finish this off this round, I should talk about printing yesterday the practice block halftone. I knew going in it would be a challenge; printing the halftone of the ‘Uncut Block’ a day or two earlier on this rough Mi-Teintes paper was something of a rude slap, and at least it had a (somewhat) definable image. The reverse side of the ‘Practice Block’, an engraving of Abraham Lincoln, was printed on the press and is included in the portfolio, scratches, dings and all. The flip side is covered with scratches, test lines, some random engraved letters, one ghostly face on the right side, the date “1881” three time, no less, and the name “Geo. H. Weagant” who I now know was a Cornwall, Ontario dentist. This face was scanned at high resolution, sent to Owosso Graphics who in turn produced an excellent magnesium plate with a good screen. Printed on glossy paper, the image pops and looks exactly like it should. On any other paper, it looks a bit muddy. In the end, my mistake was threefold: 1) deciding to include the image in the book at all; 2) generating a halftone block of it; and 3) printing it on buff coloured course stock.

So for point one: why include it? Well, there is a semi-academic aspect to this job. I’m hoping that several New England institutions will take interest in this work, and I feel compelled to display evidence in the hopes that it will give some of my conjectures and speculations some teeth. This face of the block give a date (1881), and the name Weagant, and on the reverse, the engraver’s name “F. Archibald”. This could tie Archibald to Weagant, placing the collection in Eastern Canada or up-state New York at the end of the last century. It’s no proof, but enough to make an attribution, or even to make a speculation or two.

Point two: a courser line screen would have made printing easier, but the images more crude. In choosing to print the way I do, the term ‘crude’ is not one I want to be associated with.

Point three: as mentioned about, other than on glossy stock, printing halftone is a challenge. I chose the paper because the colour is beautiful, the weight and texture appealing, and it is also in my price range. The only other option would be to print the halftones separately on gloss, and tip them in. Well, ‘crude’ comes in many forms, and that might be one of them. I greatly prefer the results I achieved as opposed to this option.

In the end, these halftone are mere illustrations to various points, rather than the intent of the book, i.e. the wood engravings, which sit wrapped on my table patiently waiting for the completion of printing, to be installed in their new home. And while the labour involved was, to put it bluntly, ridiculous, the efforts were not wasted, and the results are good.

So, here they are, the results of the last couple of days printing.

First, a lead cut from the collection, attributed to ‘F. Archibald’, circa 1880. It printed far better than expected, better even than proofs taken (intended as printer’s proofs!) ages ago when I editioned the blocks.

Engraving cut from lead

And here’s a shot of the practice block one the press, lightly inked:

And in print:

Halftone off the press - from the 'Practice Block'

So, back to work.

Announcing Graven Images

April 5, 2010

A Portfolio of
Nineteenth Century Wood Engravings
Printed from the Original Blocks

from Greyweathers Press

In the Autumn of 2007, a collector loaned the Press a remarkable set of fourteen vintage wood engraving blocks that she had discovered in an antiquarian’s shop. These we have put through the press; it is possible that they have not been inked for almost 130 years, let alone editioned. The matter and style of the engravings suggests a mid to later nineteenth century origin, ranging in technique from simple line illustrations to highly sophisticated work with detailed tones. It is difficult to say how many hands are responsible for the blocks, but three names can be identified: Samuel Smith Kilburn, a Boston wood engraver; George Matthews from Montreal and Boston; and the name, initial and monogram of F. Archibald.

The book has been printed by hand on Canson Mi-Teintes paper in an edition of 100 copies. Included in the edition are thirteen mounted wood engravings, hand printed on Fabriano Accademia paper. There are many perils in printing from such old blocks; sadly, a fourteenth block cracked on the press, and has been reproduced from a magnesium plate based on an early proof. The type is Italian Oldstyle. Foreword by the printer, L.F. Thompson.

Dimensions 9.25 x 12 inches, 30 pages including 14 plates. Quarter bound in cloth and paper. Price $160. Discounts for booksellers and pre-sales.

Special edition to be determined.

Prospectus includes the above details, a sample page from the book and a tipped-in wood engraving. Mailed upon request – $10.

Greyweathers Press
Box 574, Merrickville, Ontario K0G 1N0 CANADA

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