Pulling our annual New Year Book together is never straightforward. We’ve been greeting the New Year this way now for twenty years, and we can safely say that no two have been much alike. From the beginning the plan has been to find interesting content first, and fit it to whatever paper is about the place. So usually they have been printed on carefully stored off-cuts from books, and designed to minimize waste as well as to look nice. When all goes according to plan, they are printed in our break between Christmas and New Year, when we lay aside the current project and devote the week to this jeu d’esprit.
The content came easily this year: we were impressed with Vona Groarke’s poem as soon as we read it – high on the wall in the atrium at John Rylands Library (see the last post for the context), and were pleased to have her permission to publish it. At this time of year when we metaphorically archive the events and achievements of the past year and mentally prepare ourselves for the year to come, it seemed particularly apt.
Although we hope to print a large broadsheet version, printed in 12-point type, the poem makes a handsome 20th New Year Booklet. We found some Wookey Hole mould-made off cuts for the content, hand-set and printed the poem in Lectura type, and sewed the finished sheets into Murillo card covered with a decorated paper designed by Alan Drummond. To complete the whole we also made the envelopes to suit.
Although subscribers and Friends of the Press get copies in January, we do have some copies available for purchase from the website. Booklet and envelope come together in a plain brown wrapper.
With everyone from Eye Magazine to Birds of Ohio talking about Enid Marx, her designs, and her prominence in the fabulous exhibition at Compton Verney (through 15 December 2013) we thought it might be fun to show a few of her illustrations from our 1996 chapbook Who Killed Cock Robin. These tiny wood engravings, printed from the wood, re-use the blocks she cut for Nursery Rhymes (Chatto & Windus, 1939). They make a amusing contrast with the large linocuts she produced for Marco’s Animal Alphabet, yet for all the difference in size, they share her trademark energetic cutting and her ability to use simple black and white contrast to good effect.
We printed this at Marco’s request, so that she could give them to her many nieces and nephews. But there are no limits on an edition when you’re doing proper chapbook printing, so we printed LOTS and then bound these baby chapbooks in brightly coloured paper with poor cock robin printed in red on the cover. Graham vividly remembers sewing copies on the train as he made his way back to London to deliver the finished product, trying to keep from stabbing himself with the needle as the train jerked and swayed! Copies are still available on the website; we think they make lovely gifts.
This has been a bumper year in the Bow Street Community Garden for pot marigolds, or calendula officinalis to give them their proper name. The bees have been hard at work, so lots of flowers has meant lots of seeds, and we have been harvesting since July, mixing seeds from the orange and the yellow flowers.
Now, as summer draws to a close and the nights draw in, we have turned to an indoor job–printing seed packets ready for sale from our table at the 2013 Oxford Fine Press Book Fair at Oxford Brookes University on 2-3 November. There you will also find our wood-type postcards–if you look closely, one is displayed in the photo–and a fresh harvest of new books, too!
Ali O’Brien a keen local photographer, and part-time lecturer in Photography at Bradford College, visited the workshop last Spring. She was particularly taken with the Arab, and the interrelationship between the work we do, and the prints on the walls–our inspiration! We have added some of the photos she took to our flickr site.
One of three shipments of paper received so far from John Purcell Paper that we will use in printing our new book by Jerry Cinamon on the German book artist, typographer, and type designer E R Weiss.