Help Me Somebody

Before printing of Oddballs could start in earnest, we had to tear the paper down. Which is one reason we kept delaying things; it is such a boring job. We're printing on some of our coveted vintage Guarro mouldmade laid paper (the same stock used for HM=X). Each book requires 14 signatures of two sheets (i.e. eight pages) each; each sheet is almost a half full sheet of the Guarro. Almost but not quite; we need to remove two inches from the width. We used a cutter to halve the sheets (so the heads will be a trimmed edge), leaving the deckle on the bottom and one edge. We didn't like the look or feel of the other fore edge being trimmed, so those have to be torn. We'll print 45 copies to get 35 we like. That means 630 full sheets; once halved, that's 1,260 printing sheets. So that's 1,260 fore edges that need torn. And being a laid paper, we have to ensure we keep track of the rough & smooth sides. You can see why we procrastinated.

The photo above shows the stack to be torn, the offcuts, and the trimmed sheets. The offcuts will be further trimmed - mercifully using the cutter again - to a width of one inch, for use as shims in the binding. Since the engravings are being tipped into the book, the binding - the spine - must account for the additional thickness they add to the text block, and this is done by adding shims to the folds of the signatures. With the trial binding, Natasha Herman has determined that a one-inch strip of Guarro folded twice (to make four thicknesses) inserted between the outer and inner sheet, will be sufficient. (No, we're not printing on this horrible yellow Guarro, but it's the same weight as the white so we used it for the blank dummy.) This is a detail one should always look for when presented with a book that includes tipped-in items.

Progress was somewhat expedited by setting up a jig: a ruler fastened at one end to the cutting mat, and a mark exactly 17 inches to the left. By aligning each sheet to the mark and horizontal, the edge can simply be torn along the ruler's edge. Nonetheless, it is tedious work. So tedious that, after years of rejecting all inquiries along this line, we have begun entertaining the idea of a HM apprentice. This is exactly the kind of work intended for the young & keen. There's even room in the studio for a bedroll.

As the idea took hold, we thought of other tasks suitably interesting and valuable to the studio's ongoing success. Like harvesting the moss from our roof (the apprentice could sell it at the nearby weekend farmers' market). And so, investigations into the feasibility of what we're tentatively calling the Kramerica Memorial Apprenticeship are underway; stay tuned for application details.