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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Arts Tuesday-How the Bixlers Make Metal Type

Here's a great post on making metal type by Sarah Bryant of Big Jump Press. She visited The Bixler Press and Letterfoundry in Skaneateles, New York and has great photos and information to share.

The Bixler Press and Letterfoundry is where type is born. And today I will attempt (attempt, mind you) to show you how that happens. The Bixlers have two kinds of Monotype casting machines: The Supercaster, which produces one letter in one point size at a time (so you would cast a hundred or so 48 point Dante lower case e’s, for example, and then change the mold (matrix) and start casting the next letter,) and The Composition Caster, which somewhat miraculously casts whole galleys of type in the order in which they will be printed, (page 212 of Moby Dick, for example, set in 12 point Joanna.) How in the world does the Composition Caster work? Hang in there and I will try to explain. With pictures. Any mistakes are 100% mine, the Bixlers have never once been known to make one.

How the Bixlers Make Metal Type

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Studio Sunday-Miscellanea Wall

This spot of wall is above where I have the boxes of the Spirit Books catalog stacked and corrrugated cardboard sheets to make boxes for some of the original Spirit Books. It seemed like a good place for several pieces that were replaced with others in the house. The large square was made when I was working with Polaroid transfers. The image is a photograph of a Buddha in an octagonal window in a pagoda at the Mahayana Buddhist Temple in South Cairo, New York that I went to when I was teaching at the Book Arts Jamboree organized by Ed Hutchins and Carolyn Chadwick in 1999.

The Breathe piece is the word written with a Pentel brush pen superimposed on a photograph of a billboard in Photoshop.

"Tidings of comfort and joy" is stitching on handmade paper. I used lettering that I did not use for my Christmas card as a pattern. This is something I'd like to explore more. Part of my dilemma is what words to use. I feel like I'd prefer to do more serious quotes with ink and paper so I am thinking short and lighthearted. I like the idea of using the embroidery hoop instead of a frame.

The circular piece on the bottom was printed on metal at (I think) The image was created in Photoshop from a photograph of a pussy willow catkin.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Arts Tuesday-British Library Public Domain Images

This is from Open Culture:

Earlier this week, Oxford’s Bodleian Library announced that it had digitized a 550 year old copy of the Gutenberg Bible along with a number of other ancient bibles, some of them quite beautiful. Not to be outdone, the British Library came out with its own announcement on Thursday:

We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of.

The librarians behind the project freely admit that they don’t exactly have a great handle on the images in the collection. They know what books the images come from. (For example, the image above comes from Historia de las Indias de Nueva-España y islas de Tierra Firme, 1867.) But they don’t know much about the particulars of each visual. And so they’re turning to crowdsourcing for answers. In fairly short order, the Library plans to release tools that will let willing participants gather information and deepen our understanding of everything in the Flickr Commons collection.

Entire Collection

Selected Highlights

Thanks to Ginger Burrell on facebook for this.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Studio Sunday-New Calligraphy

I recently accepted a commission for a quotation from The Confessions of Saint Augustine for the president's office at Merimack College. It was the first time I had taken on a commission for a piece of calligraphy that would be framed in close to 30 years. While it seemed like a good idea when I said yes, I quickly had my doubts. I wanted to keep the freedom I feel I have been writing with of late while creating a piece that would have the level of formality required for the location and the quote. The requested size was 24" x 30". I have to say I wasn't thrilled with the quote. I prefer a quote to end with uplift and I felt that the last sentence did not.

I knew from the start that I wanted to use black ink on off-white paper and that it be just words, with no imagery or background. I experimented with both pen and brush.

I felt the brush lettering was a little too informal and contemporary. I experimented with several different size pens and decided I would use my new favorite nib after the Mike Gold workshop last fall—a Speedball c-4. I did a rough draft in pencil and then ink to get the line breaks and the spacing. You'll notice some calculations on the bottom left as I tried to figure out how far apart to draw the pencil lines. I had sworn that I would never draw pencil lines again but it quickly became apparent that I could not do a quotation of this size without them. To keep more looseness in the lettering, I only drew one pencil line for each line of text (rather than a second one to mark the body height of the letters).

Most of the lettering I do now is either for scanning into the computer where I can make corrections if need be in Photoshop or for casual use. Although I often say, "It's only paper, what is there to be afraid of?", I was. One night before I went to bed, I decided that I had to push finishing the job to the top of my to do list. It was beginning to take on weight and hover above me like a black cloud. I slept a little later the next morning and eased into the day. When I went into the studio, I carefully made the pencil lines, took some deep breaths and began. I got through with no errors and I like to think a liveliness of lettering. I must say I viewed the final product with satisfaction, but whether I say yes if I get another offer is unknown.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Arts Tuesday-Pettingell Book Bindery

I enjoyed this article, An Afternoon at Pettingell Book Bindery, with great photos by Melati Citrawireja on Berkeleyside, Berkeley, CA's independent new site. Here's how it starts:

As I push open the glass door to Pettingell Book Bindery on Bancroft Avenue, I am greeted with a pleasant quietness, a rare occurrence in the busy hub of downtown Berkeley. The owner and master bookbinder, Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher, greets me warmly and invites me into his workspace.

Rötzscher is a middle-aged tall and slender fellow, wearing a glue-coated apron and wire-rimmed spectacles. The long, narrow room is dimly lit, with quirky artwork and tchotchkes lining the walls. Ribbons, rolls of colorful paper, and old tools fill every nook.

“I designed this place myself, and I am skinny,’ he jokes in his thick German accent as we squeeze through the walkway. “Actually, the bindery was set up this way when I bought it and I just filled it with more crap.” A Javanese wooden puppet dangling from a shelf seems to wink as I pass.

An Afternoon at Pettingell Book Bindery article

Pettingell Book Bindery

Melati Citrawireja

As is often the case, this link comes from Peter Verheyen on the Book Arts List.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Studio Sunday-Quote Corner

My studio reorganization has been about making it more functional but also more attractive, both as a space for me to work in and a place to show off in a studio visit. I hung this framed piece of quill and berries that my friend Nancy Hajeski (now a writer) made for me years ago when I at the height of my obsession with calligraphy above my quote box, the contents of which have spilled over into a quote bowl made by my friend Sandra Kavanaugh (now working with paint and pastel) when she was at the height of her obsession with pottery. It began its life as a mixing bowl but was reassigned after I dropped it. There's also a stack of blank index cards waiting for new entries and a little book of one of my favorite sources, Poems by Emily Dickinson.

I'm going to be working on a series of quotes which includes thinking about what makes a good quote as well the lettering itself. I'll be sharing more as it develops.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Book Arts Tuesday-GBW Journal

The Guild of Bookworkers has published a journal annually since 1962. The complete collection has been digitized and is available for free on their website. An extra plus is a pdf of the Table of Contents through 2009. Thank you to GBW for sharing this wonderful resource. Happy reading!
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