Last year letterpress printer, Jennifer Farrell, designed and printed a beautiful decorative M constructed from almost 100 metal printers’ ornaments.
After hesitating to break-up the forme, she had the idea of producing a whole alphabet using the same method. Eventually this thought galvanised into producing a limited edition book which she has printed at her Starshaped Press, in Chicago, and has bound at Wells College Press.
The process has resulted in some stunning imagery, especially of the metal forms which have been photographed after printing, still with silver ink clinging to the ornaments.
The edition is almost sold out, but there are a handful of copies still left. Most will be ready to ship in mid-May. Get one here.
This week, we are sharing House of Cods, a finely printed pop-up book featuring a poem by Carol Schatt. The book was designed, printed, and assembled by Linda Smith in 1996 at the Picnic Press in Phoenix, Arizona in an edition of 50. The book is an environmental warning framed in the guise of a playful and engaging pop-up. Once the viewer is seduced by this apparently entertaining structure, there is no backing out, and they are met instead with sober contents of impending doom. Smith makes use of the pop-up not as we conceive of it today–a structure to amaze and delight–but rather as it was originally intended–a didactic tool for instruction and explanation.
The poem, which is told from the perspective of the cod fish, warns of the dangers of overfishing and disrupting the marine environment. The seemingly playful popup design mirrors this warning, depicting a house of cards, topped by a boat, which rests upon a foundation of fish. Netting from the top of the boat descends down the construction, and then flows as a printed impression over the paper and the text of the poem, giving the illusion that the lament of the fish has been caught in the nets. Once humanity has “emptied the seas completely” we will “hear the slow sad echo and then no more,” and the house of cards that is the fishing industry will come toppling down.
Linda Smith was a student of John Risseeuw, another printmaker, papermaker, and book artist who also uses themes of environmental and social justice. The text for this books is handset Optima foundry type with relief line engravings. The Gyotaku fish impressions were printed on a variety of Mexican, Philippine, and Thai handmade papers.