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