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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Printing My Partial Tongue

I’m in the thick of printing a new book. My Partial Tongue by poet Martha Ronk uses phrases from an essay on gardens and plants by Sir Thomas Brown, a 17th century essayist who wrote about the order in nature. The poems have a great deal of space in them, space suggestive of what is missing and of silence, and reflect a feeling of distance from the natural world that seems to be disappearing.

This is by far the most demanding and technical printing I’ve attempted. I created photographs of plants and feathers that reflect the content of the poems. The images were digitally manipulated and separated then printed in tight registration on Rives BFK.

All of the text is handset Bodoni. The 14 pt Bodoni book, book italic and 36 pt book are from the collection of Otis. The 72pt roman and italic are mine.


Printed pages are stacked on the banquet tables my sisters gave me for my birthday. They will be replaced by custom tables with lots of storage soon.



The 14pt Bodoni book was hand set for the 14 poems in the book. It wasn’t as much of a chore as I thought it would be. It printed so wonderfully I may never go back to polymer for text.

The type for the title page. The 36pt Bodoni used for Martha's name is from Otis. The amazing 72pt is something I’ve had laying around for years. It was destined to be melted down before I saved it. Many of the letters of the italic have kerns, where they overlap the neighboring letters. I had to be very careful to not break them. As it was I broke several ears from the lower case “g”s and “r”s.


This is the title page in the grippers of the press ready to have my imprint and date printed.

Production dummy

I wanted to enter My Partial Tongue in the College Book Arts Association's juried member show. The deadline for online submissions is Monday. I had to get enough of the book printed so I could bind it and make it look like a complete book.

The plan for this book is a separate board binding with a goat leather spine and boards covered in paste paper. This dummy only has half of the images printed.



Here’s a close up of the head and rolled leather endband. I put a little piece of cord inside the spine piece to form a faux end cap. In this binding the spine is made and applied to the text block separately from the cover boards.


Along with the plant images there are three images of feathers. These feathers are from a hen common pheasant. I bought them on ebay.


Most of the plants came from my garden. This image is of a flower and buds from my Ballerina, an old fashioned rambler, that has grown over the side wall and into the neighbor’s tree.


The sword fern that grows on the shady side of the house started as a little piece from my sister's yard. It is so happy there I have to periodically hack it back to clear the path.

My grassy paste paper.



More My Partial Tongue images





Santa Barbara Daisy

I have these plants all over the place. They are very successful self-seeders.





Printing the Ballerina image

This is an example of the way the images were printed.

First the solid colors were printed with the final black detail printed last.


This is after the green and pink plates were printed. It's ready to print the yellow.
The yellow plate just been printed.



Now it is ready to print the black detail plate.



The black has just been printed. You can see the plate in the bed of the press.