Posted tagged ‘Shows’

On humility….

March 2, 2016


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

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.





Forest Fantasy grooves Alice theme this year

July 17, 2015
Untitled copy

Sketch for title page illustration for The Truth About Rabbits

On Saturday at least, expect to find vendors and visitors to the Fantasy in the Forest Show in “Alice in Wonderland” themed costumes, according to organizer Jamie Brick. Just another reason to come check out the show, rain or shine.

The Fantasy in the Forest (or FAF) is our favourite show of the year; setting up and showing with the other exhibitors is like a reunion, as is meeting the people who come year after year to this ‘wonderland in the woods.’

I often get asked how my books and prints hold up in the great outdoors under tent. So far, so good, but I still have tests to face. In the early days, I swore I would only do indoor shows, not liking the risks that rain, damp, wind and the odd tornado tend to bring to an outing. Other extremes, like humid heat and, yes, cold (this is Canada) also discourage visitors. FAF would become the test venue in many ways, situated as it was (at the time) right on a lake shore with July bringing every extreme of weather imaginable. Obviously, the paper and books on display respond as one would imagine to high humidity, from the air or the ground, but handmade and cotton papers are incredibly resilient, and if books are bound properly, they ‘move’ almost not at all. And any changes that do occur inside frames or inside plastic sleeves returns to normal as soon as it goes back into the studio. The one thing I watch is books in plastic wraps; if left in hot sunlight, moisture contained in the book will condense inside the plastic, and if any of the bindings are cloth or leather, there’s a risk of staining. As I said, I’ve now done dozens of outdoor shows in most conditions outside of apocalypse, and so far, so good.

So, we’re packed and ready to go! See you in the woods….

Gearing up for the Studio Tour

September 25, 2013


Another year already! We’re gearing up here at the press for the annual Merrickville Artists’ Guild Studio Tour and Sale. You can pick up brochures at local stores in the village or at artists’ studios. Over the years, this tour has been going from strength to strength, with great variety and some serious talent in the line-up. For all the details, visit the website HERE.


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.

Private press in the great outdoors

July 10, 2013


This is a shot from the Ravenswing show in downtown Ottawa earlier this summer. A lovely park and beautiful fair weather greeted those who came to check out our work. It’s what I might call a show for the 99 percent — there’s even a requirement for vendors to have a substantial portion of their stock priced $20 or lower (a challenge for me – most of my work is decidedly not priced for impoverished youth, but we rose to it). As a result, the show had an edgy but friendly vibe to it, and the vital and predominantly youthful exhibitors seemed to be having a good time. The combination of these elements, and the hard work of volunteer promoters, brought steady crowds all day long.

But this little missive isn’t about Ravenswing in particular; it’s about the things that go through the mind of private press printers who bring their work into the great outdoors.

Everything I make – everything – involves paper, book board, book cloth, paste, glue and other materials. I’ve been known to brag that my books are made to doggedly endure the passage of the ages. It is a conceit, of course. There’s the great destroyer, fire, and perhaps coming in a close second is that occasional human need to rend objects of beauty or wisdom, particularly books.

When I exhibit outside, I am at the very least under tent. I leave my books exposed to the air – they seem quite happy there so long as there is no prolonged direct daylight. I don’t want to even chance them being caught for a moment in plastic sleeves in the sun. Condensation forms inside the bag.  Anything that comes out of the studio will have collected a wee bit of moisture, nothing serious, just the usual to and fro, give and take of normal humidity that you will get in any household climate that is not completely hermetically sealed. Likewise framed prints. The same issue applies for the unframed prints, which are housed in ‘peel-n-stick’ clear plastic sleeves. Of course, rain is a big concern.There’s also wind and heat.

In these strange days of climatic change, water rising ankle high or driving horizontally into the booth is no fiction. There is nothing so despairing than the wails of a watercolour artist watching pigments puddle in painterly swirls at the base of an easel. My point is that, unless you deal in stone sculpture, outdoor shows are not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t take even a hurricane force wind to lift a booth heavenward, which could leave a potter in a suicidal state (or worse, if they hang on and go up with it) and while the encaustic (wax) paintings laugh (haha!) at rain, heat can have devastating results.

I suppose some printers could hang out broadsides printed on cotton rag paper, laugh at the gods and let them get soaked, then leave them hanging and dry out. But even that is fraught with danger. If they are not completely dry when packed away, one may find when unpacking many exuberantly colourful blooms of mould, and the hateful whiff of mildew. And this can happen even without rain, if the outdoor venue is sufficiently dank. You know, like “art in the swamp” or some such in the Florida biyous, or anywhere out-of-doors in Britain.

All this being said, we take our chances. All endeavors entail risk, and if we want to sell our work, we must show. Outdoor shows tend to be affordable for vendors, and they are popular with the public. All I can do is prepare insofar as it is practical, and accept what nature doles out with a philosophical grace…. and perhaps a calming  beverage.


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!



Printing the Creative Process

March 9, 2013

Every year, for the past six years I have printed a ‘signature’ (in this case two sides of an 8×11 sheet folded)  as my contribution to the Grimsby Wayzgoose anthology.

It was last year when I sat down with my notebook and pencil and began to brainstorm a sequel to 2010’s The Vampire & the Seventh Daughter fable, bringing back the feisty young herione, Septima, from the first fable. For this year’s anthology, I decided to interpret my notes with metal type, lined paper, scribbled notes and pencil sketches.

My notebooks are rather chaotic affairs at best, so a bizarre mix of type faces was called for. It took a few hours sort out the make-ready, all those different faces and different sizes.

A rabble of faces....

A rabble of faces….

We set enough type for two sheets, or eight pages, along with some rough cut linos or engravings, but time constraints meant pulling out a lot of type, reducing the project down to one sheet, both sides and no block prints. I wanted to emulate the notebook further with the paper I used, and found large pads of graph paper at the office supply store. When I opened the packages, I learned that commercial paper today isn’t what I remember from 30 years ago. The graph paper was extremely thin, and I wondered if the ink  might even leach through. It printed well, however, and I even managed something close to a KISS impression.

Printing on graph paper about the thickness of onion skin.

Printing on graph paper about the thickness of onion skin.

From the start, I had wanted the piece to mix the traditional (letterpress) along with pencil sketches and handwritten scribbles. My notes are filled with sketches done while I think out problems, so I extracted some of these to use in the piece. This would require the digital laser printer, and help from Holly with some of the more technical aspects of layering images in Adobe Illustrator. Holly came up with the idea to have my ubiquitous pencil lying on the page, and to mess things up a bit with a coffee stain. Most of the handwriting is hers – you can read it!

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Mechanical pencil shot, later cropped in Photoshop.

Septima, the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter

Septima, the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter

Inside spread, colour laser print on bond without the type.

Inside spread, colour laser print on bond without the type. Holly’s handwriting. (Mine’s illegible!)

Outside spread: colour laser printing on bond

Outside spread: colour laser printing on bond

The combined result: letterpress & digital.

The combined result: letterpress & digital.

I was very pleased with the combined effect of letterpress and laser printing to create what is meant to appear as pages torn from of my journal. I was bothered by one thing: one of the digital layers did not have a pure transparent background, so it left a very faint tint on the page except were the white border an 1/8th inch around the perimeter of the sheet. While very subtle, I decided this was visible enough to make the whole thing look like it was spat out of a digital printer, which it was most certainly not! So the sheets were trimmed, making them somewhat smaller than the required 8.5×11, but still acceptable, I hope.

One side note: at least a half dozen times during the later stages of this project (folding, numbering etc), I found myself reaching over to swipe the pencil off the pile of printed sheets. That’s too funny!

I hope to launch the sequel to 2010’s The Vampire & the Seventh Daughter at this year’s Wayzgoose (April 27). Like the last one, it will be finely printed but accessibly priced, in an edition of 60 on Arches Text paper. The last one had lino cuts, but this time I want the illustrations to be wood engravings. We shall see.

Next job is to write the fable, cut the illustrations, print and bind, all by the end of April. I’ll announce it formally as soon as I decide on a title!

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