Monday, March 12, 2007

Book Arts

Kim over at Hiraeth creates hand lettered bookmarks. I was reminded of a wonderful class I took three times.It was called History of Practical Printmaking. It delved into the history of printmaking, and of course we learned about Gutenberg's press along with other historical facts. We had to complete a broadside and an edition of 20 copies of a book. The books are called Chapbooks, and they usually incorporate handmade papers, are hand bound, and are usually illustrated with steel engravings or wood engravings . They are small books, containing a poem or brief words.

The process of making a handmade book is meticulous and time consuming. In the three classes I took, with a total of six students per class, only a couple of students completed the assignments. I was one of them, because I totally loved the class.

We hand set the type for the book which meant that we selected pieces of metal type from a wooden box, placed them upside down, right to left in a galley, tied the type securely with string, placed the type on a press, surrounded the type with "furniture" which consisted of strips of metal and wood measured precisely against the edge of the press bed in order to center the type, and then ran our pages through the printing press. The wooden boxes of type held various styles of fonts, and each box within the box carried a particular letter or punctuation mark. We learned to read the box much the same as we learn to read letters on our keyboards.

I have created two books with my own illustrations and poems I have written.
I made 20 copies of each book I created. I used handmade paper and illustrated one book with a steel engraving (a pen and ink was sent to a company which transformed it to an engraving) and another book with a wood engraving that I created.

Title of Book: Trails

Wood engraving created from silky end piece of wood

Illustration for book

End piece indicating what font, where printed, and how many copies


On solitary wanderings,
I watch clouds push edges of blue
and starlings weave patterns
in elusive windstreams.

I walk through shadowed canyons
listening in the stillness
for poetry in quiet voices

I am a printer in a back room
planting letters one by one,
pouring ink like rivers,
irrigating orchards of words.

When storms rage through
leaving trails of broken words and ink,
I hope the strongest will survive.

Book Arts have become quite the art form. Papermaking, marbling, handbinding, various ways to put together pages, from accordian pages to pages made from unusual materials have really blossomed in the art world. I would love to continue to explore this particular art form, combining my love for books, and my love of art. Here is one last picture of an example of various handmade books.


At 6:04 PM, Blogger rebecca said...

Oh my! Very impressive!

I'm afraid I wouldn't have the patience, but I admire those who do.


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