Less than a week until the release (5/15/2011) and production is drawing to an end, though there’s still a great deal to be done. This past weekend was spent printing, with Saturday being a smooth, easy day (800+ impressions/4 runs) and Sunday being exactly the opposite (200+ impressions/1 run). Both days helped to remind me why I enjoy letterpress printing, and why I’m using it for these books.
The following disjointed musings on letterpress printing, and on the analog processes of the book vs. the digital processes of the book, will be interspersed with various photos of the production process. As seen above, as seen below.
This book seems significant to NewLights from a production standpoint: it’s the largest edition done of a substantial chapbookish project (200, 36 pages), it’s the first book in more than a year, and the first to be done entirely in Colorado, it’s all letterpress printed, it’s all printed on Vandercooks (as opposed to the Heidelberg that I was printing on in SF), and it’s a new (but simple) structure/binding for NewLights. And it’s all being made relatively quickly—a little bit more than a month of focused design/production time.
This weekend brought the earlier comment “letterpress seemed to me to be a natural way of deliberately (and often painfully) connecting one's entire body to the words on a page” to mind.
Printing these digitally (or having them printed offset) would have been easier, but the thought of sitting at my desk, waiting for my laser printer, choking on its fumes, just collecting sheets, makes me existentially nauseous. I want to be an active participant, on all levels.
That being said, there are issues of clarity, of legibility. I am not as consistent and accurate as the laser printer. Usually I try to be. I almost always fail.
The printing of this book is becoming more about lack of control, or about a kind of chaotic control, than I had initially planned. Its physicality will be readily apparent, will be an integral part of the book.
The network of small impressions on the cover feels like woven cloth.
There are parts of the design that require more accuracy in registration than a laser printer can provide. I at least have a fighting chance of pulling those off.
Loud music helps.
These books don’t make themselves. Somehow, that’s important. I am struggling to articulate why.
Second wind, third wind, fourth wind, fifth wind. & so on. To be continued.