Decorating Paper at Codex

Sorry to be late this week, but I had to wait for the content. Before an update on Decorating Paper, however, an appeal: regular visitors will know that one of the musical engines driving HM, especially during long, tedious hours at the press, is loscil. He has just released an EP of three new compositions, with all of the proceeds going to a Vancouver family whose young daughter has been diagnosed with a rare cancer and faces some tough therapy. Suggested donation for the EP is $5, but pay what you can. Like all of his recordings (especially last year's fantastic Sea Island), For Greta is austere: the calm surface of very deep water. Exactly what HM's books aspire to be?


Visitors to the Codex book show in Berkeley next month will be able to see the first few sections of Decorating Paper (Volume 1 - probably text and samples from the materials,  random-patterned & pulp-patterned chapters) bound up, at the table of Vamp & Tramp.

With Volume 1 printing complete, Claudia and Barbara got together this week to review the scheme for how and where all of the samples will be inserted. Each volume will have approximately 300 samples illustrating each of the techniques described in the text.

Some samples they have in sufficient quantity to be full-page sheets; more scarce ones will be tipped in.

I spent the past two weeks printing decorative borders on 1200 sheets. These will be interspersed through the text in each volume, to display numerous samples of each technique.

Most of these specimen sheets are black Arches printed with a gold border; some (in Volume 2) have silver borders, and some are black on white.

This is Claudia's working dummy for Volume 1, with her maquette for the binding (front & back) on top. Volume 2 will have an entirely different binding design. And this (below) is what happens whenever Claudia and Barbara get together: way too much fun, and usually ideas for three more books. Stay tuned...


This Is Bordering

Decorating Paper update: Volume 1 (text) is completed. Here are some photos of David Clifford printing the last sheet (a leaf, actually). Sheets go off to Claudia for collating. Before we launch into Volume 2 text, we will spend a whole bunch of days printing borders, two up, both sides on 1200 sheets of Arches wove paper. About half of the sheets are white (same as the text), which have the borders printed in black; the other half are black, which will have borders printed in gold and silver.

These sheets will be inserted among the text pages in the two volumes, framing the many hundreds of tipped-in original samples. Which sounds really kool, unless you're the person who has to run off 2400 impressions of borders.

David's talents are better spent elsewhere, so the border pages fall to the weakest link in the chain: HM himself will learn how to print with a Vandercook and run them off.

Can he adjust to the breakneck speed of a Vandercook - even a Model 4, which is almost entirely run by hand? (But please folks, don't confuse a hand-operated Vandercook proofing press with hand inking - a discussion for another time perhaps.) We'll see.

As the junior printer in the shop, HM tries to keep quiet and not mess up or break things. Here's a surreptitious shot of the senior printer. She's pretty nice, as long as you don't ask too many questions. 

So far so good. Check back in a week.


Volume Status

Decorating Paper sitrep: David Clifford's well into Volume 1 and should be completed in about a week's time.

Before proceeding to Volume 2, we'll be printing the approximately 1200 sheets that will have borders only (some of them black Arches printed with gold or silver). With these done, while David works on Vol. 2 Barbara and Claudia can start tipping the many samples on to the border sheets. All of the printing is slated to be finished by the end of February.


This Hamlet is a Fakesimile

Is this really a prospectus for the Cranach Press' edition of Hamlet, or a (later) facsimile of one? It's printed on a beautiful cream laid sheet, no watermark. The last page appears, to my high school German, to be a description of the different states in the edition ("eight copies on vellum/parchment...") with prices in Marks. A small addendum at the bottom of that last page tells us the piece is a "keepsake supplied by Gallery 303 to the participants of the Heritage Series."

A quick Abebooks search for "Gallery 303" and "Heritage Series" turns up about a dozen items, a couple listed by the sellers with 1930s dates. Maybe these was a special run of the original prospectus, printed at Cranach, for distribution in America?

No, it's not original. Over at the Dr Leslie Project's site, we learn a bit about Gallery 303 (not to be confused with the current 303 Gallery in NYC) and Heritage Series:

In 1927 Sol Cantor and Robert Leslie founded The Composing Room with the intention of being "the cream of the crop in typesetting firms." Leslie in particular was an advocate for the printing and graphic arts, and founded several periodicals dedicated to the subjects. "In 1936, Dr. Leslie, with the help of Hortense Mendel, began showing the work of emigre and young artists in an empty room in The Composing Room offices. Called the A-D Gallery, it was the first place in New York City dedicated to exhibiting the graphic and typographic arts." 

The gallery seems to have become inactive some time after that, perhaps during the war, but in 1958 was "reactivated and renamed Gallery 303, after it's room number. In addition to showcasing artist's work, the new gallery was became host to the lecture series, 'Heritage of the Graphic Arts,' held through the sixties." So presumably this Hamlet keepsake is a facsimile produced some time in the '60s. Even without all that, it's not letterpress, so there you go. The other titles that Abebooks showed with 1930s dates also probably were 1960s-era facsimiles of the originals.


Saw this on the (upside down) cover of a blank notebook in a kool shop; wtf?