Saturday, December 31, 2011

three sites for sure eyes

here are three brilliant sites I have found for the first time this morning - one letterpress, one wood type, and one marriage of wood type & new technologies - here they are -

Virgin Wood Type
the brain & hand child of Bill Jones, who is making new wood type, mainly of traditional, historical origin - his blog is tremendously informative, with good pictures & videos -

Letterpress Daily
very nice for letterpress information, often showing a type in metal or wood and then a printed version - David Wolske is informed and interesting, and also involved in the -

Vista Sans Wood Type Project
a collaborative international project using wood type 'for the 21st century' - nothing retro or old-fashioned funky here, just beautiful design & printing with new wood type in fine combinations of traditional and new technological thinking & processes -

I'm highlighting these sites because they show to me just how much, after all these years, I don't know and haven't explored - I cannot recommend them too highly

Friday, December 30, 2011

damping paper for printing 7

today's contribution is from Inge Bruggeman of Textura Printing & Ink-A! Press in Portland, Oregon - another & different approach - [& by the way, Inge is, among other things, involved in the Vista Sans Wood Type Project, seriously worth checking out]

I have used all kinds of dampening methods, the fanciest being a large plastic lidded box with a photo tray in the bottom - the photo tray has two sponges wet with distilled water and just a small amount of rubbing alcohol to prevent mold, then a sheet of gridded plastic is placed over that - this is what the paper rests on. For a lot of paper I have used one of those dispenser/sprayers from the hardware store that people use to spray nutrients (hooray!) or pesticides (boo!) from. The paper gets spritzed on one side and depending on the paper, I may skip spraying every other sheet - the paper is stacked, then put in the plastic box to even out the moisture throughout the fibres of the paper and as evenly as possible - usually 24 hours. This method was published somewhere by Cathy Baker, maybe in the Friends of Dard Hunter Newsletter? I will see if I can dig that up. . . it does have some nice photos.

In the end though, and for most things, I just use distilled water in a spray bottle and spritz each sheet, stack them, and keep them in a plastic bag under a light weight for 24 hours - a traditional damp pack. This method seems to work very well for most papers and printing that I do.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

damping paper for printing 6

replies to my request for paper-damping methods keep coming in - this one from handpress printer Norman McKnight at his wonderfully named Philoxenia Press (the word means something like 'love or acceptance or welcome of strangers', the best antidote to its 'opposite', xenophobia - I'm reminded again that in Homeric times Zeus himself was the god of, or protector of, the stranger - Norman's Albion, it should be said, is a bench-top model, an exact copy of Lewis Allen's Albion made by D & J Grieg, Edinburgh, just as mine is, made by Steve Pratt in Utah - anyway, Norman has kindly written this -

I am going to start my own blog to chronicle the work of the Press & hopefully find it a spur to activity as well; I had intended doing a demo of my own method on the blog soon after I begin it (January 3). My method is simple, but of course various papers would require various approaches, mostly the same method however. I am dampening only for use on the Albion, so the maximum sheet is always 11 x 15. I am, so far, only using Rives BFK white which is fairly heavy. 

I first dampen a sheet of blotter on both sides, & then dampen each subsequent sheet of paper up to five; then another blotter; then another five until I get thirty, as my editions do not exceed twenty-five. The sheets are then placed in a plastic zip-lock bag & placed in the nipping press between two Lexan sheets 11.5 x 16.5 to keep the sheets flat while gently pressing them while the moisture equalizes. I do this at about 07:3o then later in the evening at about 18:00 I have sheets that are supple to handle but not very damp, certainly with no residual moisture. Any residual moisture, should there be any, means I sprayed too close to the sheet, and I simply wipe the residue off with a piece of Kimwipe (a tissue like a giant Kleenex which is used for wiping offset plates & is usually found in paper supply stores). 

The method of dampening is a Dahlia sprayer available from Talas Supply in New York. They cost about 100 dollars US & are well worth the price for the many times I use it & the extremely fine mist it gives. I hold the blotters & sheets by the corner & spray at a distance of at least 12" to 18" to get a fine overall mist on the sheet & avoid droplets which occur when sprayed too close to the sheet. I have excellent results with this, although I have not used other papers, nor have I printed on the verso; but timing would be the main concern, and as I am working on small editions this probably wouldn't be a problem for me, only that the ink must be dry before backing up [or, as I and others do, use slip-sheets for backing up - Alan's note] - 

I will be doing another print run on December 31 with our "Albion Club" which includes a printer who will pick up Pratt #18 in Utah sometime in January. I will try to photograph my method when I next dampen sheets. I learned this method from Fred Voltmer of Havilah Press who has a lot of experience with Albions (his own & numerous he has set up or acquired for institutions & individuals) & his own & others' Columbians.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Sirens at Ninja Press

a few weeks ago I posted a double-spread from my book The Sirens, printed superbly by Carolee Campbell at her Ninja Press in Sherman Oaks, California - the book can now be seen on her Ninja Press Books website  - here's a 'picture' of a siren taken from a 5th century BC vase from Attica, which Carolee has used with extraordinary flair for the book's doublures - the text, Siren eimi, simply means 'I am Siren' - 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

damping paper for printing 5

Sebastian Carter of Rampant Lions Press, Cambridge, UK, has generously written of his paper-damping method as follows -

My method, as described in The Book Becomes [Rampant Lions 1984 - there are several copies available on at very reasonable prices], was to damp in batches of 25 to 30 sheets, depending on the thickness of the paper, between blankets soaked in a bucket of water. The paper should end up damp but not soggy, otherwise it will repel the ink. I piled the paper and blanket sandwiches wrapped in polythene sheeting for a day, and then took the blankets out and restacked the paper, halving alternate batches so that the damper outer sheets in one batch were against the drier inner ones above and below. I left this pile for another day, and then printed. The dampness evens out very effectively. This method would suit you if you need quite a large run of quite small sheets.

We adapted this method from Peters and Foster at the Vine Press. They used to interleave dry sheets at the middle stage, but we found this increased the risk of the paper wrinkling, so we stopped. Some people advocate weighting the pile, but paper expands significantly when damp, and needs freedom to move, otherwise you do get wrinkling problems.

There is no comparison with dry paper from the point of view of quality of impression. Once you've printed a page of type on a sheet of damped rag paper, you are spoiled for life. But you have to plan ahead, and there's a set-off problem, so you have to have a sheet of paper behind [i.e. between the sheet to be printed and the tympan] if you are backing up. My note in The Book Becomes about the merits of Hostmann Steinberg ink in not setting off was over-optimistic: I think they may have changed the formula, and made it a runnier consistency. 

With wood engravings, I found I often ended up not damping. Large areas of black (or colour) tend to stick to the damp paper and be difficult to separate on a powered platen press (no problem peeling off on a hand press). Also, damp paper tends to pick up shallow clearing on a block (very common unless they have been mechanically routed) so you get printed backgrounds where you don't want them. I found I ended up damping in some cases and not in others, even within one book. The Primrose Academy books I printed demonstrate this. The smooth Zerkall was sometimes damped and sometimes not. The special calendered version made for the Society of Wood Engravers did not require damping, ever.

Monday, December 26, 2011

new book planned for late 2012

for a long time I've wanted to do "something" with Nicolas Jenson's 1471 Greek type, about which Victor Scholderer said - 1927 - "The universal fame of Jenson rests, of course, upon his roman type; but in truth his Greek is also in its way a masterpiece, and the best thing of its kind done in the fifteenth century". - here's a sample, from Aulus Gellius, Noctes atticae, 1472 -

and this is my provisional setting of it in 12pt New Hellenic, designed by Scholderer, but based, not on Jenson's but on one used by Joannes Rubeus in his Macrobius of 1492 , also in Venice - 

when I thought about printing Jenson's last Will & Testament some years ago, I asked local calligrapher Deirdre Hassed to draw some of Jenson's letters large as a way of illustrating the book - she drew six letters, and here are three of them, printed from magnesium blocks -

they are the double-letter sigma-theta (sth), psi, and an unusual version of pi - the text itself is from Plato's Gorgias and says something about the relation of philosophers to 'real life' - Deirdre's letters are approximately 2.5 to 3.5 inches high, or 60 to 90 mm - in any case, I intend to do the translation myself, and add a few other bits & pieces to make up a viable book -

Saturday, December 24, 2011

damping paper for printing 4

a nice thing about the paper-damping methods coming in is the little bits of extra information that come in with them - here's another, this time from Scott King at his Red Dragonfly Press in Northfield, Minnesota - let me say here tho that if other printers out there are reading this blog and would like to add their method to the mix, you are most welcome to do so - just email me (and of course pictures would be splendid) and I'll post it here - meantime, Scott says he'll try to do some pictures for this present post, and if he manages that, I'll add them when they arrive - Scott writes :

My method is about as simple as it gets, but it works.

Day one: Fill the sink with cold water. Interleave dry sheets with dipped sheets, for example 3 dry, 1 wet, 3 dry, 1 wet, and so on. Increase the number of dry sheets if the paper is thin or absorbs a lot of water; decrease if the paper is thick like watercolor paper. When I dip a sheet, I pull the entire sheet by one edge through the water, then lift it out and let the excess water run off before placing it in the stack. When the stack is ready [i.e. completed] I place it in a garbage bag and close the bag with a tie or tape. (IMPORTANT: let the dampened stack of paper sit in the garbage bag without any weight on top of the sheets for at least several hours. This will prevent the paper from wrinkling as it expands.) After the sheets have sat in the bag for several hours, place some flat weight, either large books or a case of type, on the sheets overnight. This assures that the moisture transfers from the wet to the dry sheets and equalizes amongst all the sheets.

Day two: I try to make sure the print shop is somewhat humidified, in Minnesota, in winter, the dryness can be downright frightening. When printing I remove a sheet from the plastic bag, print it, then place it in a second plastic bag, minimizing the amount of time it has in the open so that it doesn't dry out. (IMPORTANT: less ink is needed on the press to print on dampened sheets.) After all the sheets are printed, they are placed between cotton blotters so that they dry flat. Drying time varies.

Friday, December 23, 2011

desperately seeking Libra

I've been searching for some time for a supply of Libra type, designed by S H de Roos for the Amsterdam Typefoundry - I found some 18pt a couple of years ago but it is a small font and already well used when I got it - if anyone knows if anyone is casting it these days, or if anyone has a supply of any size they'd be happy to sell to me, I'd be very grateful for the information - here's some of my 18pt -

Thursday, December 22, 2011

damping paper for printing 3

Jason Dewinetz of Greenboathouse Press in BC Canada has kindly sent me notice of the damping process of  Heavenly Monkey  Press - part of my interest now is to see how many different damping methods, with which their practitioners are perfectly happy, can be collected

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

meanwhile, back in Serendip

yesterday, I posted the print using M&H Nicholas Cochin Open type - and a few hours later a little box arrived in the mail, a xmas gift from who else but M&H - MacKenzie & Harris at Arion Press - its printed note said "Isn't it nice to get a letter in the mail?" - and here it is -
the "letter" is a 72pt Goudy Hand-tooled E - wow, gosh, and all that sort of thing. . . 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

a fresh print

printing something for Miriam's birthday, we chose a rewrite of a quote I gave her some years ago (sort of half-remembered from something somewhere in Ezra Pound - and which she said she'd like to put on the wall - so, with my new Nicholas Cochin Open 36pt Initials (from Arion Press's M&H collection - I set & printed the print below - when we were looking at which one to have framed, we realised that we need two "beside" each other for the work to be complete - here's the work, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, 290 x 420 mm, before pressing flat -

Monday, December 19, 2011

'if not in paint' launched

Marion May Campbell's if not in paint was well & truly launched recently, with a wonderful speech by her childhood friend and novelist Joan London - the last 5 copies of the book sold out on the night - a rare thing for Electio - with Joan's permission, here is some of what she said about Marion's work & the book -

From my first reading, and all subsequent readings, I was overwhelmed by the beauty and skill with which the poem unwinds its interior vision, its journey back to a landscape that seems terribly familiar to me, the harsh brightness of its highways and the shining beauty of its natural world. Its imagery remains alive in my mind, like something awakened: the mother 'still giving advice from the rear-vision mirror', the 'red wattle bird flexing / the yellow callistemon / chokchoks at the glass'. . . . It's a long unwinding, a voice speaking from deep inside, flowing from thought to memory to allusion, a prisoner released, each image an emotion, like a brushstroke. . . . Everything speaks for this poem. The golden box, containing the heart's treasure. The rough, beach-coloured texture of its cover, the vibrant lemon yellow signboard of its title. The flashes of red print, like the images of red - flamehaired, red birds, red dreams - that recur throughout the text. . . . Miriam Morris's sinuous drawings, splashed with water colour, are alive with a practised, graceful lightness of touch that reflects the poem's art. . . 

Marion (right) acknowledging Joan's speech at the launch -

Sunday, December 18, 2011

a Grabhorn prospectus

picked up this lovely prospectus at Grant's Book Shop in Armadale, Melbourne the other day - the date is 1933, and the types are Weiss Kapitale, designed by Emil Rudolf Weiss in 1931 for the Bauersche Foundry of Frankfurt am Main, and Lutetia, designed by Jan van Krimpen in 1925, and cast by Joh. Enschede of Haarlem - the illustration is by Valenti Angelo who worked with the Grabhorns 'over a six year period' (Roderick Cave in The Private Press, 2nd edition 1983, Bowker - the page size = 12x9 inches, or 300x225 mm - here are two openings -

damping paper for printing 2

Philip Gallo of Hermetic Press in Minneapolis has very kindly sent this note about his paper-damping process - no pictures, but his prose is crisp & clear - 

As for me, I have taken to misting the sheets with a spray bottle. Then I store the sheets in a plastic bag. 

The only problem you have to watch out for with misting the sheets is a tendency toward overspray - and build-up of water along the edges of the stack, as you continue to mist one sheet on top of the other.

If there is build-up, I move the sheets, wipe the table down and continue.

And yes, I mist every sheet - and sometimes will turn the stack over, and mist the back.

Nor am I misting directly at the sheets, but rather high - two- to two-and-half feet above them, and at a slightly oblique angle downward. So, we're not talking a heavy spray here.

Then I store the sheets overnight; unless I have to be on- and off-press quickly - in which case, two or three hours can be made to suffice.

With multiple press runs on a single sheet, there have been occasions when I have had to slightly redamp sheets, or redamp an area, as might be the case with a large initial letter requiring more dampening than the text.

If I have to redamp an area, I use a small sponge. 

Nor have I experienced any loss of impression with redamped sheets, although as I said I keep the damping to a minimum.

In short, I have moved closer to the expedient than you.

So, this is a very different process from mine, but if you have ever seen the printing of Philip Gallo, then you'll know that this process works very well for him, and his printing is as sharp and clear as any I have seen, anywhere. Not only does he print & publish on his own account, but he is also in demand printing commissions for other publishers. Check him out at Hermetic Press

Saturday, December 17, 2011

COLORWORDS completed

the printing for COLORWORDS is now done, and the boxes, to be covered in a red moire-patterned cloth, are due to arrive this coming week - here are the title-page & the colophon pages - the type in blue is Eusebius Open 24pt, and the ink a mix of Handschy bronze blue & opaque white - on the title the inks are Handschy Orange and Process Yellow - 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

damping paper for printing 1

here's the layout for my paper-damping process - a bowl of water, a sponge, two towels, and two press boards (bought from Talas in New York) - tho any waterproof boards would do - that take my largest printable sheet in the Albion and that fit perfectly in my nipping press - 
take the sponge and fill it with water -
making sure that the sponge has a decent amount of water but is not dripping water when you hold it in the air -
lay two (in this case) sheets of the paper - two because this is 270 gsm paper - if the paper is lighter, say 180 to 200 gsm you might want to put three sheets at a time, and if lighter still, four or even five (which I have done for 120 gsm papers) - 
drag, lightly, the damped sponge across the paper, making sure that the whole is evenly wet - Lewis Allen says no deserts or lakes - then lay another two sheets on top - damp those, then lay another two sheets down, damp those, and so on till the pile is completed - I tend to have at least one dry sheet on top - it may take a little experience to know how much water you should spread on the sheets - too much, and the ink will go fuzzy in printing - too little, and it will look as if the print is under-inked - it's all about the feel of things - some papers are more water-absorbent than others and buckle like crazy when water touches them - after a while you'll be able to guess what a particular paper needs - but nevertheless, be alert to the possibility of being surprised. . . 
when you are thru the pile of sheets, place the second board on the top of the pile -
then wet the two towels (one may well be enough but I use two - and lay them over the pile of boards & paper -
when that's done, my stack looks like this - 

I tend, following Lewis Allen in his Printing with the Handpress, to damp paper in the morning, let it stand all that day and the following night, to print the following morning - unlike Allen, I don't put weights on the stack (I used to, but found thru experiment that it wasn't necessary - he also recommended turning the stack over at day's end, and I'd also recommend that if you have 100 or more sheets in the pile - but I found it's not so necessary when I have 50 or so sheets - the result should not be wet sheets, almost not even 'damp' but just slightly cool to the touch - other printers have more elaborate processes than mine - but I've been using this method for over 20 years and it has always worked well for me

Friday, November 25, 2011

a new portfolio of prints

for some time I have been thinking of a set of prints, with just one word printed on a single sheet - a few weeks ago I started, taking a color-word, like PINK or RED, and printing it in a color which is not that of the word - an example is the RED print I posted here a little while ago - I've also been following Aaron Cohick's NewLightsPress blog where he recorded progress on a Kyle Schlesinger book in which he printed all the poems, overlaid on each other, on the book's cover - so I decided to see what would happen if I took just one sheet and did the same with the set of color prints - and the image above is the result - the sequence of colors was unplanned, taking each one as it occurred to me to do - but looking at it now, if I were to plan it, I'd probably print the more opaque colors first, and if I'd been a bit quicker of mind I'd have printed the same number of sheets as the rest of the edition - so there's only one of the above - the edition itself is nine copies of nine colors, with a separate titlepage and colophon page, printed in various wood types on damped Magnani handmade wove 270gsm paper and titled COLORWORDS, and will be issued as loose sheets in a drop-back box, priced at AUD$1200 the set - the boxes will be ready by christmas - by all means email me with any enquiries

Sunday, November 20, 2011

next Electio edition

the work hath begun now on the next in the Alphabeta series, #3, Picture Day by Kyle Schlesinger - here's the trial proof of the title, which will appear on the front cover, but not in yellow, but silver on the blue 'sky' pictured below - the wood type is 4-line & 8-line Modified Gothic from Hamilton - I've tried to get the blue tint off the paper, but the paper's white and, as with everything on the computer, it's approximate, and often in apparently irrational ways - in any case, requests for a copy of the printed prospectus are coming in, and if you want one, email me with your postal address -

and here's the picture of the poet -

Monday, November 14, 2011


it always interests me when I set up a chase for printing to notice just how different the printing surface looks from the printed surface - here's the chase set up for 'something' I'm working on at present - the type is wood made by Hamilton, and which they list as Modified Gothic - it's 8-line high (8 ems), and I have a fairly full set of caps, lower case, numbers and punctuation, all in very good condition - so, the chase + type = the forme - 

and this is what the printed image looks like -
interesting, isn't it -

Saturday, November 12, 2011

printing Robert Creeley

I've been lucky enough to print work of Robert Creeley, twice. First, when he toured New Zealand in 1976 as part of a trip around the Pacific - the title of the book he wrote on this  tour was Hello, the title also of the specifically New Zealand leg of the journey, and which I printed on an Arab treadle platen (not motorised) later that year. Second, when he returned to New Zealand as a Senior Fulbright Fellow in 1996, where he spent a semester at the University of Auckland, and wrote the wonderful poem, The Dogs of Auckland. As it happened, artist Max Gimblett was in New Zealand for an extended stay at the same time, and I asked both if they'd like to do a book together for The Holloway Press where I was printer. Of Hello I made 750 copies, of which 50 were on Glastonbury Antique Laid paper & signed by Creeley, and the rest on a machine-made Conqueror Wove. The cover title is in Eusebius Open, a type I did not have then - I had found a specimen alphabet, which I photocopied and enlarged, cut out the letters I needed, pasted them up, sharpened the outlines by hand, then reduced the image to the size I wanted and had a zinc block made - the colour is a Morrison Ink titled Russet Brown, which is no longer available - and the page size of the book is the same size as that of the notebook Creeley used to write the words of Hello - here's the cover and the titlepage -
as can be seen, there's a bit of foxing and general wear & tear (my books have moved to more addresses than I sometimes want to remember -
         by the time I got to print The Dogs of Auckland Robert had returned home to the US but Max was still in Auckland and he assisted with the printing process thruout the production. Also assisting was the only intern I ever had, Natasha Herman, who now runs her Redbone Bindery in Canada, which can be seen here -
         here is a spread from The Dogs of Auckland, in which the title lettering is by Max Gimblett -
there is of course a problem with scale here - Hello's page size is 195x120mm, 7.75x4.75ins, while Dogs is 235x320mm, 9.25x12.5ins - the poor point & shoot camera and the vast complexity of the computer are nevertheless completely unequipped to preserve such basic things like exact colour, relative scale - and all that sort of thing. . . 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

next Electio book

while this might be what the Melbourne sky looks like on this shining morning, it is in fact a sheet of handmade paper from Cave Paper in Minnesota (run by Bridget O'Malley & Amanda Degener) - labelled 'Cloudy Sky' it will cover the boards of the next Electio edition, Picture Day, poems by Kyle Schlesinger with letterpress prints by "the present writer" as the saying goes - Kyle is the proprietor/printer of Cuneiform Press, currently in Victoria, Texas - his blog site is here
         this will be the third title in the alphabeta series, the others being Sourdough by Tony Green and if not in paint by Marion May Campbell - I'll be printing a prospectus for Picture Day on the handpress, and copies can be had by contacting me - the book itself will be issued in 40 copies, including 8 hors commerce on Magnani handmade paper in Dante type, and will be signed by poet & printer, with the price at AUD $260

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Edgar Mansfield's 'On Creation'

here's a spread from designer-binder Edgar Mansfield's 11.2.80 On Creation, printed at my Hawk Press in New Zealand 1981 - the edition was 150 copies (ahh, those heady days. . . ) on Umbria handmade paper, including 26 lettered A thru Z unbound - the book contained several small texts on the creative process and a set of binding designs that had not yet been undertaken - as well there were 20 extra sets of the drawings, one not included in the book, on J Green handmade paper - several years later, 1993, the catalog Twenty Five Bindings was published by K D Duval in Scotland, in which binding designs by Mansfield were realised by James Brockman - the book for which the above design was made was among those bound, Edgar (Edgar by Edgar) Allen Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, with 10 aquatints by Alexandre Alexeieff, The Halcyon Press A A M Stols, Maastricht 1930 - the binding itself is in natural Nigerian goatskin, with grey goatskin inlays and black onlays in tooled lines - the grey solids in the printed version were added by Mansfield's hand after the printed sheets were sent from New Zealand to England & back again - Edgar's designs were not at all mere guidelines for his leather or vellum work - he would sometimes do a hundred or more drawings towards his bindings, and the almost perfect fidelity of the binding to the drawing in this instance is quite remarkable - here's the Mansfield/Brockman binding -

Saturday, October 22, 2011

the handpress at Electio

while this photo is also posted on my website at, its provenance is interesting, as is the general story that provides for me a moving context for it. Some years ago I printed a book of short texts on the creative process & drawings for yet to be realised bindings by the great Edgar Mansfield. The book was reviewed in Fine Print magazine by printer Lewis Allen of the Allen Press in Greenbrae, California. Shortly after that I wrote & thanked him, and subsequently we had a sporadic correspondence (all now in the Alexander Turnbull Library in New Zealand) - when, many years later, I came to Australia, I bought a brand new bench-top Albion from Steve Pratt in Utah, who was making new presses after having stripped down the Albion gifted to the University of Utah Library by Lewis Allen. So, I have a copy of Lewis Allen's press, on which he printed all his books after 1980. During the 1970s, I was given a photocopy of Allen's Printing with the handpress, and that book still keeps my sense of the craft and striving to get better and the sheer humanity of printing at the handpress alive. The press itself was made by D & J Grieg, Edinburgh, Scotland in 1882 (says Allen, but there are no date marks on my copy) - and I have press #11, dated 2005.  The platen size is 10 x 15 inches, 250 x 380mm, and the largest sheet size mine will take is 9.5 x 12 inches, 240 x 300mm, tho Allen said his largest sheet is 11 x 14 inches - here's the press -

Saturday, October 15, 2011

the book in its box

finally, the book is done - alphabeta two is now boxed and most of the orders have been sent out - a launch is planned for Wednesday 7 December 6pm, and it's that late because the poet is in Europe until December 1, and the book will be launched by Perth-based novelist Joan London - so, here it is -
of 31 copies for sale, just 5 are left at AUD $260 the copy - if not in paint, poems by Marion May Campbell, original drawings by Miriam Morris

Friday, October 14, 2011

new poems from Ninja Press

The Sirens, a new book of my poetry from the marvellous press of Carolee Campbell, Ninja Press, is now available. The Prospectus reads, inter alia -

These previously unpublished poems are hand set in Eve and Paramount printed on gampi torinoko, handmade by the late Masao Seki on Shikoku Island, Japan. The decorative device repeated throughout the text is embellished by hand with gold and silver pigments, as is the titling. The text is sewn through the black Asahi cloth spine with gray silk cord echoing the silver embellishments. The boards are covered in hanji, handmade at the Jang Ji Bang papermill in Gapyeong, Korea. . . Design and execution are by Carolee Campbell whose photographs line both front and back boards. There are 80 signed and numbered copies, with 8 lettered hors commerce. 10.5 x 5.25 inches, 28 pages. $450. All enquiries to Carolee Campbell at Ninja Press, Sherman Oaks, California, here

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

what can be done on a handpress

back in the mid-1990s Auckland printer Tara McLeod (Pear Tree Press) printed a set of my poems titled Gallipoli on long sheets of paper on his Albion handpress. He had worked out a way of printing on a continuous roll of paper, and these prints were I think about eight feet long. The whole thing is set in wood type, and many of the shifts from one type size &/or style to another is dependant simply on the amount of each letter the printer had in his cases - a lovely way of working within workshop limitations and still getting a wonderful result. A friend has just reminded me of them and sent this picture which I thought I'd post here -

Friday, October 7, 2011

Printer in residence at University of Otago

as I was printer in residence at Otakou Press in 2008, I have a continuing interest in its doings, and this year PiR John Denny of Puriri Press in Auckland has printed a book of poems by Peter Olds, titled Skew-Whiff, with eight images by artist Kathryn Madill. The book's handprinted in 100 copies only and enquiries should be directed to Donald Kerr at Special Collections, University of Otago Library - donald.kerr(at)otago(dot) - and to find out more about Peter Olds, go here - and about Kathryn Madill, go here -  

as part of the book, Peter had photographed a lot of graffiti around the city, and the 'Centrefold' spread, in which printer & poet have laid out some of that material, looks like this -

Thursday, October 6, 2011

CODE(X)+1 Monographs 1 to 6

the second batch of three Codex monographs is now out from The Codex Foundation - the first three look a  bit like this -
#1 = Robert Bringhurst, Why there are pages and why they must turn
#2 = Peter Rutledge Koch, ART : definition five (and other writings)
#3 = Alan Loney, Each new book  [all in 2008]

the next three -
#4 = Ulrike Stoltz & Uta Schneider, <USUS>, Typography, and artists' books (2010)
#5 = Russell Maret, Visionaries & fanatics : type design & the private press (2010)
#6 = Didier Mutel, Acide Brut : Manifesto (2011)

all six monographs are available individually or in a slip-cased set at The Codex Foundation

the series is continuing, and is intended to exhibit a range of thinking about the field in which many of us choose to work - what sort of field is it, how do we make good decisions in its parameters, what are those parameters, are they real, how do they connect or disconnect with other modes of 'making book' or of how we & others talk about making book, what language do we talk, is it legitimate, descriptive, prescriptive, how do theory & practice support, undermine, or give the lie to each other, what sort of thing is the book anyway, it's a weird object to be so fetishised within literate cultures, how do we understand such a thing etc etc etc - 

Monday, October 3, 2011

prospectus for If not in paint

today I will finish printing the prospectus for if not in paint - it's been some time since I printed prospectuses, but it has seemed to me of late that the book to be done is somehow incomplete without its modest harbinger - in many ways, the prospectus can be simply a straight-forward advertisement, or an appropriate register of what the book might look like (many prospectuses have included a piece of text setting from the book or even an image or illustration), or it could be a sort of preliminary showcase for the book and the press, one that reflects the hoped-for quality of the book that might find its way into cheerful hands. So, this is my first prospectus for a while, and here is the outside of the single yet-to-be-folded sheet -
to receive a prospectus for if not in paint, simply email name & postal address to the printer at -

it's not often I use so many different types on a single page - the large wood type is not De Vinne (as I speculated in a previous post) but Howland, issued by Hamilton wood type makers in Two Rivers, Wisconsin (nicely identified for me by local wood type collector Philip Moorhouse) - the types in blue (Handschy inks, a mix of bronze blue & opaque white) are Giovanni Mardersteig's Dante & Libra by S H de Roos, and the red line is Eusebius Open, designed by R Hunter Middleton for the Ludlow Typograph Company, and based on the Eusebius of Ernst Detterer, issued by Ludlow in 1923, and which was first known as Nicolas Jenson, and first shown in a printing of The Last Will and Testament of the late Nicolas Jenson in 1928 - the image of the handpress printer is of course by Albrecht Durer and is part in fact of a larger drawing that humorously sends up the activities at the printing house of his godfather, Anton Koberger who established the first press at Nuremburg in 1470 - all of which is interesting of course, but the 'onlie begetter' of this book is the poet, Marion May Campbell, pictured here -
photo by Zoe Campbell Walker

Saturday, October 1, 2011

recent book from Ink-A! Press

issued in 2009, a group of my poems titled Nowhere to go was printed & published by Inge Bruggeman at her Ink-A! Press in Portland Oregon. One of the wonderful things about being printed by other fine letterpress printers is that the range of possibilities is so great that I never have any idea about what form the new book might take. If you are published by a 'commercial' publisher, then you expect a 'paperback' which might be well or poorly done, but overall, the resultant object you'll finally have in your hands is fairly predictable in its form. So when my copies of Nowhere to go arrived, they looked nothing like anything that I could have predicted, something in fact, like this - 

to see more pics of Nowhere to go and much else that comes from the superb press of Inge Bruggeman, go here

this was the second book of my work printed by Inge - the first was Mondrian's flowers, with prints and one original drawing by Max Gimblett, and published by Steve Clay at Granary Books, New York 2002. Here's the title-page -

to see more of Max Gimblett's work, go here

to see more from Granary Books, go here

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The books to come

the publisher of The books to come tells me that the distributor, Small Press Distribution, is now out of stock, but a few copies are still available from the publisher. The price is US$40 plus $5 postage within the US, and $15 overseas. Payment can be made by check to Cuneiform Press, Center for Literary Publishing, University of Houston-Victoria, College of Arts & Sciences, 3007 North Ben Wilson, Victoria, TX 77901-5731, USA - or by PayPal to

Friday, September 23, 2011

Anne of the Iron Door

my new novella, Anne of the Iron Door, (pub. Black Pepper Publishing, Melbourne), was recently launched at Readings Bookshop in Carlton, Melbourne by Alex Skovron. It's a fable based on historical documents relating to Johann Gutenberg (The Gutenberg Documents, ed. Douglas C McMurtrie, OUP New York 1941), but bearing little or no relation to what can be known. The blurb says : "In the city of Strasbourg in 1436, a woman sued the father of printing, Johann Gutenberg, for breach of promise. Her name was Ennelin zu der Iserin Tur, in English, Anne of the Iron Door. The outcome of the court case is not known, but it is known that Gutenberg never married, and he did pay taxes for 'another person' in Strasbourg sometime before 1440. . . . Of Anne we know almost nothing beyond her remarkable name. In Alan Loney's extraordinary fable he uses the historical documents to weave a fictional life for Anne, almost purely for the purpose of keeping her name alive." 
         The book can be ordered  from Black Pepper here -

and for Alex Skovron's speech at the launch, go here

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A new anthology

it's not often my poetry gets anthologised, but Red Dragonfly Press has included the whole of my poem Katalogos (which they published in a lovely letterpress edition, Minnesota 2010) in a collection of their published work over 15 years. Founded in the mid-1990s by Scott King, the press now has a considerable list - the anthology features 68 poets across 325 pages, and is beautifully designed in Quadraat & Quadraat Sans type, with an elegant letterpress printed dust jacket. Red Dragonfly not only prints & publishes, but it also casts type, making offerings of specific castings from time to time. To buy the book, &/or see what else the press has to offer, go here -

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the Alphabeta series

Marion May Campbell's if not in paint is actually the second in the Alphabeta series - a set of books of poems, each of a set number of pages, that the printer has offered to various poets he wishes to print. The 'recipe' for the poems is quite restricted by the smallness of my bench-top Albion press, particularly in the length of the line that is available to the poet. So far, no one I made the offer to to has declined, so the challenge is obviously attractive - 
         the first in the series was Tony Green's SOURDOUGH (there are only 4 copies left), a spread from which is here -

and here's the poet, Tony Green, whose brilliant books on the painter Nicolas Poussin, Nicolas Poussin paints the Seven Sacraments twice (2000), and Poussin's Humour (2009) are well worth a close read, and who posts a lot of his work here -


the next in the series is Picture Day by Kyle Schlesinger (USA), and books to come include Elizabeth Wilson (New Zealand), Kevin Hart (an Aussie in the USA), and Devin Johnston (USA) - 

Monday, September 19, 2011

if not in paint

printing is now complete for Marion May Campbell's if not in paint - and the boxes are due for delivery in a few days. Here's what part of the cover looked like, an eight-line (96pt) seriffed wood type of unknown provenance, but looking like De Vinne, inked up, in the press 

and here's the finished cover, printed on damped handmade Fabriano Roma paper, and the other type is Libra, designed by S H de Roos for the Typefoundry Amsterdam in 1939 -

it's intriguing to me that most use of wood type tends to emphasise a kind of clunkiness or solidity that some feel is somehow the 'essence' of wood type - but I think it is as capable of as much subtlety, flexibility and elegance as any other type, and color is part of the key to that - here the color is straight from the process yellow can as is the Fire Red for the overprint, both Handschy Inks

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beginning again. . .

Starting today - figuring that this is how I keep up with what I am doing - printing the first of two colors for the cover of Marion May Campbell's if not in paint - in 40 copies with 31 for sale - each book has two acrylic drawings by Miriam Morris, all originals, each one unique, in other words she had to draw each drawing about 50 times to get the 40 for the edition - here's the first one, spread out to dry, against the background of a neglected garden - the indeterminacy principle states that one cannot print & garden at the same time 

and here's the original (the first) which served as the model for all the other approximations which followed and which will find their way into the book -