Copy Artist

When we finished printing The WunderCabinet last July, we kept a complete copy made up from waste sheets, with the vague intent of sewing them up in some simple case one day, to at least have a bare-bones copy of the book kicking around the studio. Clearing up loose ends before descending into Oddballs, we decided to sew the sheets up, and offered to do the same for Barbara, if she had a waste copy made up from her own rejects among the colored sheets. So she dropped them off last weekend. Even though the sheets were rejects, her copy still looked much more lovely than our plain sheets. So, since it's a waste copy anyway, we decided to do our best at copying in our copy, the pages and parts she'd spent so many months watercoloring. This was no small undertaking for the dedicated monochromaticists at HM. Using what colored pencils were lying around, we got to work. And it became an experience with a book unlike any we've ever had. It's one thing to look at the pages of The WunderCabinet and think, That must have been a lot of work. But it's a much deeper and more sustained experience when one is attempting to copy the original, getting the hues and tones as close as possible. It made us wonder what it would be like to publish a book like The WunderCabinet, and issue it with an uncolored copy, for the readers to fill in. Knowing book collectors, no one would ever actually try it - more's the pity. Shown above and below are a couple of the pages, with Barbara's watercolors on the right, and HM's attempts on the left (the butterflies haven't been tipped on to our page yet).

By the way, institutions that we know of where copies can be seen include The New York Public Library, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Alberta. In all cases copies are held in special collections, and so appropriate arrangements must be made to see the books. There are, or will soon be more in the United States, and we'll communicate those if/when we hear.


The Ripple Effect

HM would go to Codex if only to see Ken Shure and all the very cool books he always has on display (Chevington Press, I'm looking at you). This year's reunion was particularly satisfying because we learned that Ken and his partner Liv Rockefeller are launching their own imprint, Two Ponds Press. It's no surprise that after Ken's long association with the Gehenna Press, TPP bears a familial resemblance both esthetically and philosophically. But, as Lisa Baskin herself had pointed out to Ken, there is no value in simply being a copy cat, and that is not the intention.

Two Ponds Press will recruit the talents of different artists, typographers and craftspeople for each project, the curating of teams no doubt being part of the appeal for Ken and Liv. And given their long and deep connections in the book arts community, they will be coming up with some very cool combinations. Their debut publication, Anthony Hecht's collection of poems Interior Skies, will feature typography by Russell Maret, printing by Art Larson, wood engravings by Abigail Rorer and a binding by none other than Gray Parrot.

At Codex Ken was handing out a  broadside prospectus (set in Baskin's much-loved Centaur) that includes a brief description of the press's aims:

"Our mission is to forge a collaboration with writers, artists, photographers, designers, printers and bookbinders. Our list of forthcoming projects includes poetry, children's literature, photography, culinary arts and history. Original material presented in both traditional and modern formats will be our hallmark. We are rooted in the tradition of modern fine printing, but it is also our intention to use the newest technologies available to us; metal type, letterpress, polymer plates, photogravure, intaglio and relief printing and more will be utilized in the making of our books, portfolios and broadsides."

That bit about being a contemporary press founded on traditional models, and using "newest technologies available" particularly appeals to HM.  The TPP Web site is still being constructed, but Ken can be contacted at gehenna [at] midcoast.com. Interior Skies is scheduled for publication this summer, in an edition of 75 copies.



HM completely fabricated much of the previous post. The saddest part is, we didn't even know we were doing it, which is worse than being intentionally deceitful. Though lovely, having now seen it in person, Sarah Horowitz's etching featured in her recent Blake broadside was not created anastatically. We were bamboozled by her reference to "relief etching" in a description of the broadside, and jumped to a conclusion. Our falsehood was betrayed when we saw her, and the broadside, at the Codex book fair in Berkeley last week. We also saw her latest book, Archeologies of Loss (detail above), which is stunning. Sarah's botanical (arboreal, really) etchings are sublime, her books produced with the highest attention to detail. No lie.


Baskin Would Be Proud

Sarah Horowitz's Wiesedruck has just issued a broadside featuring a relief etching, an uncommon (and challenging) technique also known as anastatic printing. Relief etching was originally conceived by William Blake (whose poem "Sun-flower" is printed, by Keegan Meegan & Co, in Sarah's broadside). It was also written about by E. A. Poe in an article featured in the April 12, 1845 issue of Broadway Journal. The article has been frequently reprinted, perhaps most famously in a small edition from Leonard Baskin's Gehenna Press (1972, 60 copies), featuring a (pretty blurry; see below) two-color portrait of Poe printed anastically anastatically. Baskin would have been impressed with the beauty and skill in Sarah's print. The print, and Sarah's lovely books, can be found among the exhibitors at Codex this week.


The Cabinet Revealed

Copies of The WunderCabinet were sent out to subscribers last week. All of the 20 regular issue copies have been completed. Claudia is now finishing up the bindings for the 10 deluxe copies. Offered here are some photos Barbara took while various wonders were being assembled and arranged in the regular copies; each is accompanied by a handwritten inventory, detailing the items included.

One of these copies will be on display at next week's Codex book fair in Berkeley, at the table of our friends Vamp & Tramp Booksellers. One of the miniature copies will also be on display. We'll post images of the deluxe copies when we have them.