10 May 2011

cowell press

I'm taking Bookbinding this quarter. It should really be called Book Arts, though, because it's basically a workshop in fine letterpress printing. My classmates and I do all sorts of projects ranging from cards and bookmarks to broadsides and, for the ambitious, books. Sarah has printed a gorgeous collection of her poems, Kelsey made a lovely elegy to her grandmother, and Julia, who does MudThroat, has made a collection of fetching journals.

One of my goals in attending a four-year university has been to write a book before I graduate. I've written the book, and now I'm publishing it - and I'm terribly afraid of the twelve-headed monster. Talking About the Weather is a collection of a dozen poems that grew out of accumulated memories and feelings from my year in Denmark and the summers before and after. I'm setting it in twelve-point Goudy Old Style. I've set eight poems out of the twelve, and I've just run out of e's. This means that I have to print everything I can, put the type away, and then set and print the remaining four poems. It's the single largest project I've ever undertaken, and from now on, I only want to write short poems.


Type set in a chase on the island; drawers full of type in the back. 


A drawer full of (very pretty) type.


A linocut locked up to print.


Sarah, about to print the linocut in royal purple on the Vandercook, one of the big presses. Measuring to make sure to get it in the right place on the paper.


Step one is done. The broadsides are ready for poems!

There is something entrancing about standing at the press, cranking the handle and running prints. The rollers make a soft, gyrating swishing sound and the rollers make a reassuring click when the print is run all the way through. Printing is the fastest and easiest part of the process. After designing, setting, locking up and proofing a project, holding a final print in your hands is magic. The Cowell Press is one of the last remaining bastions of academic and artistic diversity at UCSC. Although it's desperately underfunded, we're lucky we still have a place where we can create whatever our visions lead us to.

1 comment:

Indigo moon said...

This is so facinating. I would love to learn more about printmaking.
And a book!!!??? How amazing!