Barbara Maloutas’ poem A Reason of Water is a poetic and visual exploration of the poet/book artist as archivist. Practical Housekeeping, a 1883 publication that holds tried and true recommendations covering everything from the latest household gadgets to instructions on how to revive a drowning victim, provides some of the words and phrases in the lyrical prose poems.
The “cuts” (illustrations) from Practical Housekeeping that occasionally migrate into the pages are rendered as abstracted forms along with the text of the poems and pulled phrases. The objects are lightly used and repetitious enough to suggest the playfulness of the modern woman who might do well to learn some of the determination, craft and skill of a plucky 1883 housewife (to whom Practical Housekeeping is dedicated). Pulling words or phrases from the poems is a way to create interest and hierarchy on the page and with the very non-hierarchical poems and provide another method of working and presenting a new archive.
The book was designed, letterpress printed and hand bound by Rebecca Chamlee at Pie In The Sky Press on Rives Heavyweight paper using photo polymer plates, various wood type with the water textures cut from linoleum. The binding is a 20-page drumleaf sewn-board binding, with the boards covered in paste paper made by the binder. The edition is 30 signed and numbered copies with six hors de commerce copies and several artist’s proofs. A limited number of printer’s proofs were left in sheets for book binders.
The text typeface is Emigre Tribute, by German type designer Frank Heine, a Renaissance Antiqua revival. Its archaic and slightly rough feel mimics the quality of the typography and reproduction of Practical Housekeeping, where words, phrases and imagery were found.