Brass Monkey

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
 You look like a monkey...

(Above is a detail from an impression taken from a piece of hammered brass, a decoration that once adorned a now-lost trunk or piece of furniture from the Far East. Printed - expertly - by Peter Braune at New Leaf Editions.)


Beasts Contained

The two text pages for inclusion with Jim Westergard's suite of prints Beasts of New York were printed at the end of last week. They've been dried, pressed & trimmed to final size, so this week we go off to the local bindery to have ten slipcases made up. For the chemise we had just enough of some large, heavy taupe sheets with red highlights, made by Reg Lissel, lying around. The one thing we forgot to print (because we're not very bright) was the spine label for the slipcase, so that'll have to get done this week.

The image below shows the colophon sheet (still to be signed & numbered by Jim) and the drawing, titled "the King Beneath," that will accompany this suite. The sheets measure 6.5 x 8 inches. Jim printed the engravings on Zerkall, and did the drawings on a heavier and toothier Hahnemuhle. The text was set in 18-pt Perpetua (with 36-pt used for the title) and printed on Arches Wove paper.

All 11 prints in each suite are uniform in edition number; the suites account for numbers 16 through 25. Only eight of the ten suites are being offered for sale, priced at $750. Contact Jim directly (jimwest at telusplanet.net) if interested.


Cut But O.K.

Having delayed it for as long as possible, we finally had to play slice & dice with 10 copies of the David Sylvian broadside, Uncommon Deities. These ten (numbers 1-10) are being put into a triptych portfolio case, made by Claudia Cohen. Which means that each copy had to be cut into three pieces. As they have already circumnavigated the globe, to be signed by David and Fukui, our hesitancy to cut them up is understandable. We are happy to report that all went well, and the ten copies are packed & ready for delivery to Claudia next week.

These photos are the paper design dummy made up Claudia, using one of the makeready proofs (hence all the scribbling & marks). Closed, the case will measure approximately 6.5 by 12.5 inches. It will be made from thin board covered in cloth (color TBD). The front board has a print of one of Fukui's mushrooms inset. The inner board has a sort-of colophon inset, explaining how & where these 10 copies fall within the total edition of 30. And inside, mounted on the three boards, is the broadside.

However much fun they may be to produce, broadsides can be problematic if one's walls are already fully populated. This portfolio format offers an alternative, allowing one to both store the broadside on a bookshelf, but also keep it easy to access (i.e. as compared to having it packed in a box under the bed). And can also be opened and easily displayed, as a triptych.

Two of the ten copies being cased up will go to David, and two to Fukui. The remainder are HM's, and a couple will be offered for sale. We'll post details here when we know them.


Beastly Distractions

This week we've pulled out the drawers of lovely 18-pt Perpetua, cast by Dan Jones a dozen yeas ago, for a quick distraction with Jim Westergard.

Last year Jim created 11 engravings to illustrate a book by Jon Evans, titled Beasts of New York. The book, which will be published by The Porcupine's Quill this spring, is a parable about a Central Park squirrel coping with various evil events and forces, all in animal form. While the engravings will be reproduced offset in the book, Jim printed each of the blocks in an edition of 25 copies. Seeing them posted on his site last fall, HM suggested he consider issuing some portion of the edition as complete suites, an idea he liked well enough. (He did something similar with his series Wee Beasties, in the early 1990s.) So, before Oddballs takes over the press for a few months, this week we're printing a title page, descriptive colophon (setting copy & design shown above), and paper chemise for a total of 10 sets (numbers 16-25 from the edition) of Beasts of New York. Each set will also include an original drawing by Jim, a sketch for one of the beasts.

Each suite will be wrapped in the printed paper chemise, and put into a custom slipcase. They will be available for purchase directly through Jim's Web site (but HM will post purchasing details when they are finalized, in a week or two).


Mushroom Surprise

It's been years since we did a secret book. The most recent was produced at the end of last year, but we couldn't tell anyone until it reached the person for whom it had been made, Atsushi Fukui. Today we received word from him that it (all of them, actually) arrived safely in Japan. 

Last year, when David Sylvian asked Fukui to create some incidental drawings for possible inclusion in the "Uncommon Deities" broadside, Fukui sent nine mushrooms. Only two ended up being used in the broadside, and it seemed a waste for the other seven to be left unused. So, we struck upon the idea of printing all nine in a small book, which we titled Basidia, and giving the entire edition (just 10 copies) to Fukui, to do with whatever he will, in thanks for his contribution to the project.

The book (4 x 6.5 inches) was printed on sheets of Reg Lissel's HM Text paper. What text there is (just the title page and colophon) is set in Dante. But all we had was white, which needed toning down to suit the book's content, so we tea stained it. We'd initially thought we'd have to dry it down after staining, and then redamp for printing; but looking at the stack of stained sheets after they'd pressed for a bit, we decided to just push ahead with the printing, and all worked out beautifully.

The book was printed eight-up (work & turn) on full sheets, then trimmed for binding. It was sewn in three signatures (integral endsheets) and put into a case made from Reg Lissel's heavier, colored papers, and lined with thin card.


Eno & the Art of Surrender

Went to Brian Eno's "Illustrated Talk" last night. In an old, supposedly renovated theater, but we suspect they bought the seats from junked Air Canada planes.

The first half of the talk was generally a discussion about how (Western) humans' perception of the world and the universe has changed (and also how language has not always kept up with these changing concepts and perceptions), and this tied into a discussion on organizational models for systems and groups, i.e. traditional top-down structures, with linear flows of interaction vs complex/"organic" structures described by people like Stafford Beer.

In the second half he discussed how some of these concepts inspired and affected his interest in art; how our language still insufficiently distinguishes between music as performed (i.e. live) and music as created in the studio (he used the example as theater and cinema as two related but distinct forms); and how he really came to music as a painter. He made the point that many art school students from the '60s onward ended up getting into music, and that this was because music - as created in a studio, using the various tools & technologies that were coming available - had become a form of painting. (This reminded me of his "Harold Budd is a great abstract painter trapped in the body of a musician" quote.)

He spoke at some length about his interest in light and the paintings/installations he's created. This would have been more engaging if he had some visuals as accompaniment. He ended by talking about the concept of surrender, as he's seen people surrender to his installations - to just being in the space. He talked about surrender as the opposite of control, and generally a word/concept we view in a negative sense, as a sign of weakness; but that really control and surrender are two ends of a continuum, and that being able to truly experience life requires being able to constantly find/adjust to the point on this continuum best suited to the situation.

In 1990 we had the opportunity to visit (several times) his exhibition The Quiet Room, in Montreal. Eno's 77 Million Paintings is (are?) currently on exhibition at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, until March. It's an uncommon opportunity to attend one of his exhibitions, especially in Canada, so if you're able to go, do; and go with the idea of just sitting down for a while and being there, and see what happens.


Closing Up The WunderCabinet

We're getting close to The WunderCabinet's release, in just under a month now. Barbara and Claudia will be meeting in a few weeks to assemble all the various bits & pieces that go into each box (and Barbara will write out a detailed inventory of each box, for inclusion). The book will make its debut at the Codex Book Fair in Berkeley. HM has done the previous two fairs but we couldn't spare the time this year, so our friends at Vamp & Tramp Booksellers (who will be exhibiting) have kindly offered to display the book for us. It will be a rare opportunity to see the book in the wild, as the entire edition is subscribed, and our booksellers seem to already have customers lined up for their copies.

In addition to exhibiting one of the "regular" copies (i.e. 1/20), Vamp & Tramp will have on hand one of the miniature versions. Alas, this little copy will not be bound by Claudia but rather by HM. Nonetheless, it should be sufficient for people to flip through and get an idea of what the big book is like. The ten signatures were sewn on two vellum slips, the spine pasted, and then the book was put into a case made from a piece of Reg Lissel's abaca vellum paper (from batch that had been loaded with pigment to dye it black). Barbara is going to create a spine label. The frontis, which is an etching in the real book, is reproduced digitally here, but printed on Reg's paper; everything else in the book is legit (i.e. letterpress and hand embellishments, just like the real thing).


Colorful Talk Radio

CBC Radio will be airing an interview with Barbara Hodgson on Sunday 9 January. North by Northwest (NxNW) host Sheryl MacKay and Barbara spoke about her collaborations with Claudia Cohen on a series of books about color (The Temperamental Rose and After Image so far; two more volumes are planned) being published by HM Editions. NxNW airs across British Columbia on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and can be found at 88.1 FM. Barbara's interview is scheduled to run between 8 and 9 a.m. PST. An unedited podcast version of the interview will be posted to the show's site following broadcast.