Two Cool

Two new books that caught our attention recently...

The first is from Jason Dewinetz's Greenboathouse Press, Alphabetum Romanum, an instructional treatise on the correct rendering of Roman capital letters, writtten by Felice Feliciano in c.1460. The press' site includes a summary of the project, and Jason's journey through redrawing the letters and printing each in multiple colors.

Jason was in town for the Vancouver book fair a few weeks ago, and very kindly dropped off a copy of AR. It is by far the most substantial publication to date from his press, sewn by Jason and put into a stiff case of Reg Lissel's handmade paper. While Jason developed a reputation for his typography and design skills with his Greenboathouse Books imprint over the past decade, those books were all produced digitally; it is only in the past year or so (with the imprint renamed to Greenboathouse Press) that he has been working with letterpress, and his printing is admirably good and consistent for someone who has not yet logged that many hours at his press (much better than most of the HM books produced in our first few years).

Issued at C$300, this edition of Alphabetum Romanum is more affordable (& available) than the Officina Bodoni's 1960 version, and, being the first in a series of Renaissance alphabet books to come from GP, will no doubt become increasingly sought after as people attempt to assemble complete sets in the future. Copies are available directly from the press, with a discount offered for subscribers to the series.

The second new item is the latest from David Esslemont's Solmentes Press: Florilegium Solmentes, "a portfolio of 24 unique ‘digital’ flowers created from ‘nature prints’ of leaves, from scanned petals and from other parts of plants."

HM was first introduced to David and his work in the mid-1990s, when he came to Vancouver to talk about his work at the storied Gregynog Press, and give a workshop on the basics of bookmaking. He's an engaging and entertaining speaker under whose direction the press issued some stellar books. For reasons unknown to us, he & the press parted ways shortly after, and he has gone on to start his own imprint, Solmentes (and in our opinion, Gregynog has not since done work nearly so interesting or exacting as when David was there).

David is a rare commodity in the fine press world, in that he essentially is an artist who has developed a master's skills in the crafts of printing and binding (if you wonder at this, visit the Bookbinding pages at his Web site, solmentes.com).

(if you wonder at this, seek out any of the bindings he designed for deluxe copies of Gregynog books). While some may lack enthusiasm for digital printing, in David's hands the potential of the technology, and the unique possibilities it can offer, are undoubtedly fully explored to create prints that could not be made any other way. Which is, after all, what printmaking should always be about.

Florilegium Solmentes is available as a suite of prints accompanied by the book The Making of Florilegium Solmentes, priced at $4,500 (edition of 10 suites). The book alone, issued in an edition of 30 copies (10 to accompany the suites), is available for $300.