Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Scripps College Press rolls with the decades



At reunion last month, I attended a presentation at the Scripps College Press, where years ago I took the typography class that would shape my life. My class had just five students, all working in a dark, cramped pressroom adjacent to Denison Library. No more. Now the press has a bright space many times larger, one that fits four proof presses plus all the type and a binding area.

Our class was among the first to produce a limited-edition book in one semester. Teacher Kitty Maryatt's still at it, now with more students and a ready audience including 58 standing patrons for the wide-ranging works that issue. It's hard enough for me to produce a book a year, and these students must come in collaborating from the get-go: within weeks of deciding their subject, they're hard at writing, proofreading, and printing. Naturally, the task of binding arrives at the busiest time of the year. Here's to you, Ms. Maryatt, and all the books you've helped bring into being.

Now for a visual recap of the presentation:

Kitty Maryatt, director of the Scripps College Press, showcases a limited-edition book produced by the typography class.


Ms. Maryatt plumbed the archive for the reunion tour.

Arch focuses on women in architecture, and stands on its own.

This semester's work in progress.

Frederic W. Goudy designed a typeface for the college, underwritten by the Class of 1941. The press puts on an annual lecture in his honor.

Books start here, with type set by hand. I still know the California job case by heart.

Vandercook envy anyone?

Type set on the bed.

Typesetters of old-time lead learn to read backwards.

All limited edition, all the time.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

American manufacturing is on the decline? Not at Ma Nao Books

Let's make books.

Many deadlines have converged, so that as I round up the art for the manuscript, I'm also remaking the models in the book and finishing some commissions. The studio hums. What I love about bookbinding is how low-impact it is—just a few tools and some paper and you're ready to roll. So long as you recycle the paper and bookboard scraps, it's also waste-free and carbon neutral.

The rest is all in your hands.


In verifying measurements and methods, I return often to one of my primary sources: the journals that I kept while learning Chinese bookbinding in Beijing. This little spiral ring notebook went everywhere with me and over the months grew fat with lessons, intrigue, adventure, and appreciation of the Middle Kingdom.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

For an artist, it's the best kind of hang-up

A chance to show, that is.

Along with fellow Artspace artists Brita Gould and Gay Mitchell, I have work at the ITT Center, 811 N.W. 19th Ave. The art stays up through May.

I enjoyed converting a blank ho-hum space such as this:

into this:



When not hanging, I'm rounding up artwork for the manuscript, and lucked upon this video of the Chinese cave where a massive treasure trove of old books was found around 1900. It's in Mandarin, but the footage shows the camera got to go where visitors normally can't in the far-west town perched on the edge of the Gobi.

Among the tens of thousands of manuscripts piled within the cave was the oldest, dated, printed book in the world, the Diamond Sutra (a scroll dated 868 A.D.). Considering all the indignities it has suffered in the name of "conservation" over the decades (bleach and cello tape among them), it's a wonder it has survived this long. 

The Diamond Sutra—still shining after all these centuries.



Monday, March 31, 2014

As Chinese Dreams prepares to move across the river, here's the "making of" the book version

Chinese Dreams, a show of 11 photographs of nappers from Beijing and the port metropolis of Tianjin to the remote reaches of Hunan, has places to hang starting in May. Even though they may not outwardly show it, I bet these sleepers would love a visit.

Even a "simple" binding takes multiple steps, to allow time for paste to dry and for paper to take its shape under weight. I learned this structure from Alicia Bailey several years ago as part of a roundup of rigid-page formats. My notes, however, remain skimpy so I improvised with these Dreams.


The pages dry after printing. If I called it giclée instead of inket, would customers pay more?


After folding, pages make up a collation station.








Stacked.



Nip it good.



Does nipping make much of a difference? (Left text is pressed; the one at right is not.)


A big difference.

Here comes a hinge. Triangle helps keep things straight.

Japanese paper makes the joint stronger. A bone folder seals the seam.

The book builds on itself.

Adding weight all the while—


—waxed paper, too. How did ancient bookbinders manage?


Stacking for more weight


For durability, a strip of Japanese paper rounds over the spine.

As Zhang Ping would say, Neat and tidy is the goal.

Almost there: covering the boards.

Paste applied, the paper already starts warping.

Bone-fold hither and thither.

Cutting corners. Recommended!

Long edges turn in first.

Halfway done

Ready for text.

Gauzy strong stuff wraps the spine again—probably overkill, but I love how the structure can splay flat and want to encourage readers to open the book wide, and often.

At last, bookcloth.

This was the trickiest part, maintaining tension on the text block while simultaneously assembling the binding and casing in the book.

Endsheets of text are pasted up and applied to inner side of cover boards. No more naked bookboard.

Numbered and chopped.

Ready for the shelves of bibliophiles everywhere.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Ma Nao Books notches first solo show: Click right up for a virtual visit

Zhangjiajie National Park Transporters, Hunan, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

My show came down this morning at the Northeast Community Center, but it occurred to me that February was such a short month and part of it we were immobilized by snow, so here are the images involved. By the way, they're for sale, $75-$125 depending on the size (6 x 9 or 11 x 14 inches), and handsomely mounted on half-inch maple blocks ready to hang. Or, for a smaller price, order the hand-bound book featuring all the images—news on that to be posted shortly. 

In any case, catch some Chinese Dreams while you can!

Tianjin Train Station I, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

Beijing Bicycle Repair, Margaret E. Davis ©2014


Zhangjiajie National Park Shopkeeper, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

Zhangjiajie National Park, Hunan, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

Changsha Bank of China Security, Hunan, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

Changsha Museum Grounds, Hunan, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

Beijing Pedicab, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

Beijing Jiugulou Dajie, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

Tianjin Train Station II, Margaret E. Davis ©2014

Tianjin Train Station III, Margaret E. Davis ©2014