Monday, February 21, 2011

I got so excited about the launch party I made a book

You are going, aren't you? The Letterpress PDX celebration runs 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, at the outfit's sweet new home—Disjecta, 8371 N. Interstate. Among the offerings are chances to try your hand at a mobile press that'll bring print to the people citywide (there's also a locally based national effort under way by Moveable Type, but that's a whole other post), punch buttons, bind books, eat "book-themed desserts," pet books from my collection, listen to a couple of bands, and much more.

After seeing the recent book show at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, I came away wanting to hold the things, lay them in my lap like the designer-writer-publisher always (usually) intended and savor the layouts, the feel of the page between my fingers, and yes the words and pictures. It's hard to do that on aching feet and at a distance determined by a plexi wall.

Forever, too, I have wanted to make some kind of record of the wacky papers in my inventory, collected from all over the world and usually not the best for text, given all the inclusions, coatings, and texture. (I always wanted to make some sort of nonadhesive baby book that would help spike a kid's first love of paper, but then I caught mine eating one of those magazine subscription cards.)

I took some prime samples from my treasure trove, added a few pages from a 1958 issue of the Brazilian magazine O Cruzeiro for style and visual relief among the textural feast, then wrapped them in a beautiful piece of paper handmade by Helen Hiebert. It's a totally tactile piece, fun for the fingertips and the eyes.

So here's a book you can touch. In fact, I beg you to. I always tell my customers how good a book or box feels when burnished by hands over time, so the more the merrier.

I love the tooth of the cover and can't wait to see how the paper ages with use. Lately I've really been into the die-cut look, more easily achieved here with my circle cutter. The cover peeks into a paper that reads like Rorschach.

It's all low-key from the outside, but a riot within.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hoppy Valentine's Day

OK, OK, I can hear you groaning. The Chinese celebrate the new year, or Spring Festival or the lunar new year (as the post office blandly puts it), for 15 days, so I'm still in the bunny window so to speak!

It already looks like a busy year ahead, with several copy-editing and bookbinding projects in the works, not to mention a plea for stories about the short-lived but high-adrenaline trajectory of Beijing Scene.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ma Nao Books is folding

Like, 500 times.

After a couple months of intensive editing, compiling, and designing, the literary-legacy project finally comes to the binding bench, starting with all those outsize folios—the text and the kozo cover sheet over the title page—that need halving, by hand of course! I collate them with the three-ply image gatefold and give 'em a good nipping in the press.

Next I tuck the text folios inside a cloth spine and make my first stab (ha) at sewing. The books still look and feel like such slim things, but they just keep growing in presence, especially when the boards go on.

This being a more complex multimedia package, I'll end up sewing each little packet of love twice, attaching endsheets (half of which paste down to the bookboard on the inside covers) and the archival double-sided CD envelopes the second time I sew.