Made By Hand

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As my final project for this course, I have applied the knowledge I have learned throughout the semester to create my very own book. This is a case-bound journal that contains beautiful end papers, creamy text blocks that I stitched together, and a bookplate of my design. The bookcloth, end papers, writing papers, and book boards were all purchased from Hollander’s. After cutting each piece to its proper size, I used either glue or a needle and thread to join various parts together. I enjoyed making my own journal and appreciate it both as a work of art and a potential place to record memories.

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The Collection

As this semester draws to a close, I’m completing a lot of assignments, bidding farewell to old classrooms, and generally checking items off of my to-do list. One such item, however, I could only partially check off as completed. As much as I love to finish a task and contemplate over a job well done, I must admit that one of my final projects for this course must be left unfinished, at least for now. This final project is in the form of a virtual book collection. I had to select a theme, then choose books and additional items that each centered around that theme, all while maintaining a budget and working within the confines of a real book market (that is, I couldn’t buy a book or item that someone else had already purchased). While I, of course, fulfilled all of the requirements of the assignment, I can’t help but feel as if a top-notch book collection is never truly complete, at least in some cases. Books and items fall out of or into value and collector’s interest and the collector himself or herself might change the way that collection should be perceived.

My theme is titled “The Life and Works of Charles Dodgson (AKA Lewis Carroll). Throughout this project, I learned so much about Charles Dodgson. This man had so many other interests and facets to his personality that extended beyond his pseudonym and his works in creating the world of Alice. Despite criticism and mystery surrounding this figure, I found myself very pleased with this collection and the knowledge I gained as a result. I learned so much more about bindings, especially morocco bindings, as well as provenance, paper, and other topics I have been studying throughout this semester.

I have uploaded the entirety of my project in single PDF files because I was unable to combine all of the documents into a single PDF file. We begin with a collection list of all “purchased” works, then ten books and their related descriptions and reasonings and five items with their descriptions and reasonings.Feel free to browse through the content. Enjoy!

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Binding

This edition of Through Fairy Halls certainly qualifies as a beautiful book, and that is due in large part to its binding. This case bound book has several design elements that make it appealing. According to the collectors at Old Children’s books who assemble My Book House set, Olive Beaupre Miller, the editor, decided not to add any dust jackets to her books in order to “keep the book close to the child (My Book House, The Bookhouse for Children by Olive Beaupre Miller)”. I suppose handling a book would be easier if one does not have to worry about the dust jacket slipping or ripping. The basic components of book binding include text blocks sewn into signatures, thread, glue, book boards, and book cloth.

The book cloth that covers the outside of the book can be decorated in several different ways, and the front cover can include more than one design element.  As far as I can determine, the book cloth used to cover the book boards is a material similar to imitation leather. The book cloth is not smooth or soft, as is the material one usually pictures when thinking of cloth. Additionally, the grains in the material are uniformly distributed, and, if the cloth were real leather, the grains would be unevenly spread throughout the cloth. In an online excerpt of her book Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle: A Bibiliography of Published Works, author Patricia Hall referred to the binding as “fabrikoid”, which is a cotton cloth treated with a certain chemical, but only in association with a green cloth binding. I believe that this refers to a different printing of the same book because my copy is bound in black cloth. However, fabrikoid was marketed as artificial leather and has an interesting story behind its marketing and production. Even though I can not discern what type of sewing pattern was used to connect the signatures to the binding, I can see the punctures made by the needle as it moved through the pages, so this volume was not a book that solely used glue to hold the pages together.

The design elements of the front cover and spine of this anthology are foil stamping, embossed edges, and an illustrated inset cover label. Foil stamping is a design method that does not involve ink, unlike many of the illustration processes. Foil stamping requires a die, or carved metal plate, heat, pressure, and some type of metallic foil. The metal plate is carved with the desired design and then heated before being pressed against the foil. When the die is pressed against the book cover, the heat allows the foil to transfer the design from the plate to the binding cloth. According to the website Flesher Foil Lettering, the process used in the early twentieth century would have been linecasting, which means that an entire line of text could be foil stamped at a time, instead of working letter by letter, as in earlier methods.

The video below contains an example of foil stamping, although the machine shown is likely a descendant of the machines that would have been used when Through Fairy Halls was printed. However, I include the video to provide a better idea of the stamping process. You can see the metal dies on the inside of the machine every time it separates to insert another cover to be stamped. I advise you to watch the first thirty seconds or so before forwarding to the one minute and forty second mark, where you can better see the inner workings of the machine and then watch the rest of the video. 

Although the photo is a bit blurry, you can still see the foil stamping on the spine. Photo credit: http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTYwMFgxMjAw/z/hd0AAOxyNo9So5-x/$_35.JPG

The second design element found on the front cover is the embossed edges. Unlike the foil stamping, this element is distinguished the image being raised up from the cover. The embossing surrounds the title and the cover illustration. The curlicues featured in the design are quite whimsical and remind me of a garden. Because no additional colors or materials were added to the embossed images, the process of blind embossing was used. Two dies, similar to those used for foil stamping, would be pressed against each other with the book cover between them in order to produce a raised image.

Can you see the embossed edges? Photo credit: http://www.princetonantiques.com/shop/images/books/048797a.jpg

The third design element is the pasted in illustration by Alice Beard. By examining the front cover, I can see and feel the places where the producers copied the illustrator’s image onto a type of paper before they glued it to the book cloth. Additionally, a green and tan headband decorates the top and bottom edges of the book’s inside spine. In addition to being decorative, a headband serves to strengthen the connections between the pages of the text and the book cover.

Thank you for following along as I discovered how Through Fairy Halls is a beautiful book!

Bibliography

Flesher. (n.d.). A short history of stamping – Foil stamping machines. Retrieved from http://www.flesher.net/about/foil-stamping-history

Haden, J. (2009). What real books are made of. Retrieved from http://www.blackbirdinc.com/working-together/111-what-books-are-made-of.html

KlugeTV. (2008, February 7). 14 x 22 Press – Foil stamping hard book covers PART II[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MJNHvVRb3c

Old Children’s Books. (n.d.). My book house, the bookhouse for children by Olive Beaupre Miller. Retrieved from http://www.oldchildrensbooks.com/catalogues-lists/topic-lists/my-book-house-bookhouse-miller

Patricia, Hall. Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle: A Bibliography of Published Works. Gretna: Pelican Publishing, 2001. 113.

Through Fairy Halls Vol.3 In My Bookhouse. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=4840635132&searchurl=tn=through fairy halls my bookhouse&fe=on

The Edible Book!

The Edible Book Festival celebrates the book through the culinary arts. Every year, universities, libraries, and other institutions and individuals hold their own festivals on or near April 1. Today, my class hosted our own Edible Book Festival and High Tea. All of the entries were related to a particular book, and each entry was fabulous! From puns and a Harry Potter feast to watermarks and a picturesque Great Gatsby representation, this festival was celebrated in style. The book I chose was The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. When I first heard about this assignment, I knew that I just had to choose The Lorax because I remember the illustrations as being so vivid. I actually expanded on my original idea of portraying the landscape as pictured in the book and ultimately decided to do a “before” and “after” scene. Many ingredients went into the making of this book, including marshmallow treats, cotton candy, cake, brownies, coconut, and graham crackers.

Baking is one of my hobbies, so I am no stranger to edible creations. However, I did run into a few problems, mainly the marshmallow treats and modeling chocolate. I had used the marshmallow treats to make the arms of the “Once-ler” character and his ax, but the models started falling apart after a while. On the bright side, the cotton candy “Truffula Trees” turned out quite well, and my overall vision for this creation was achieved. I had so much fun baking my edible book and then seeing and eating the other creations my classmates had put together. Enjoy the pictures below!

Making the Lorax! This was made out of vanilla cake, chocolate frosting, toasted coconut, and an almond bark mustache.

Making the Lorax! This was made out of vanilla cake, chocolate frosting, toasted coconut, and an almond bark mustache. I added the nose and eyes later.

These were various pieces I molded out of marshmallow treats before I covered them in modeling chocolate with green food coloring.

These were various pieces I molded out of marshmallow treats before I covered them in modeling chocolate with green food coloring.

The finished product! On the left-hand side, you can see the landscape before the "Once-ler" chopped all of the trees down, although you do see him lurking in the background. On the right, you can see the "Once-ler" hiding in his ramshackle house with the chopped down trees and the "Unless" platform left by the Lorax, as in the story by Dr. Seuss.

The finished product! On the left-hand side, you can see the landscape before the “Once-ler” chopped all of the trees down, although you do see him lurking in the background. On the right, you can see the “Once-ler” hiding in his ramshackle house with the chopped down trees and the “Unless” platform left by the Lorax, as in the story by Dr. Seuss.

Illustrations

Through Fairy Halls features beautiful illustrations that complement the stories in this anthology. Many of the illustrators who can be identified by the names or initials written in the corners of the images were popular and prominent illustrators of their time. Some examples of well-known illustrators from that time period, which is around the 1920s, include Maud and Miska Petersham and Johnny Gruelle. The illustrations were originally drawings made using pen and ink, but some are drawn in black and white, while others are in color. I think that the process used to bring the ink drawings to the actual printed book is chromolithography, which I wrote about in more detail in another of my posts (titled “Next Stop: The Printing Press”), so please check that out. As a short review, chromolithography is a more chemically based process of inexpensively and quickly reproducing images. This process entails breaking down a whole image into its parts based on color, then drawing one piece of the picture on different stones using an oil-based medium. The oils would transfer to the paper, while the white spaces would stay clear.

In many of the images printed in the book, you can see that some of the color appears to leak outside of the lines, especially the aqua-tinted shades. An excerpt from Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle: A Bibliography of Published Works (2001) mentions that orange highlighting was added to one of Gruelle’s illustrations in Through Fairy Halls. The colors used in the illustrations are aqua, orange, cream, brown, and black. Illustrations are priceless when it comes to children’s literature. Not only do illustrations make the book more appealing and interesting to young ones, but they also make it more accessible. Adding illustrations helps the read visualize and follow the plot of the story, which is especially helpful for those that are still learning to read. Whether in color or black and white, the illustrations in this volume are incredible, but I wonder at the number of illustrators used. Numerous illustrators contributed images to this book, but they all seem to be the same, or at least drawn in the same style. I suspect that the illustration style of that time period influenced the illustrators to some extent, lending a degree of uniformity to the images, but I still find the number of illustrators unusual. Any thoughts?

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This husband and wife duo took the 1920s illustrating world by storm. Illustration Signature from Through Fairy Halls, edited by Olive Beaupre Miller.

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Maud and Miska Petersham’s illustration in Through Fairy Halls.

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Do you see what I mean by the colors blending together and bleeding out of their lines? Take a look at the skirt and sleeveless armhole in particular. Uploaded photo from Through Fairy Halls by Olive Beaupre Miller. Illustrator: Tony Sarg.

Compare this image to the two above it. Can you see the similarities in color palette, and style of drawing? Illustration by Hilda Hanway. http://image0-rubylane.s3.amazonaws.com/shops/openslate/BK833.6L.jpg?12

Patricia, Hall. Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle: A Bibliography of Published Works. Gretna: Pelican Publishing, 2001. 113.

A Tidbit About Typography

As far as I’m able to determine, the typography used in Through Fairy Halls takes place within the pre-helvetica period and is influenced by William Morris’s works. Helvetica is a family of fonts, or typeface, that has been favored because of its stark simplicity. So, it follows that my book of study is more decorated than that.While I could not pinpoint the exact type of font, or even the typeface, the font used in my book of study contains serifs, script-like characters on the title page, and highly decorated capital letters that begin the first sentences in some of the short stories. The illumination is one of Morris’s influences, as he decorated the pages of his books similarly. In addition to illustrations, Morris also illuminated the letters themselves. Rennie Mapp points out that Morris’s influence had spread to Chicago, specifically Chicago publishing companies, at approximately the same time as Olive Beaupre Miller’s creation of the My Bookhouse anthology. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to draw a connection between a prominent designer and a novice editor, especially in light of their close proximity and examples from Miller’s work that point to Morris’s principles. As you can see from the image below, Morris did not favor white space, instead choosing to fill the page with illustrations. Miller also chose to heavily illustrate her anthology, even though these images came in the form of pictures that represent the story. Also, Miller decorated some of the capital letters, as mentioned before.  Take a look at the Helvetica design and compare it to the text from Through Fairy Halls located beneath. The Helvetica letters lack serifs and lend a somewhat anonymous identity to the type. The font used in my book of study definitely lends a certain whimsical character to the text that complements the story.

In the image below, notice the page on the right. It almost looks as if two fonts were used in the title and the name of the publishing company. Another possibility could be that the same type was used, but some of the characters are in italics, while most are not.

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See the similarities between the capital “O” in this photo and the capital “I” in the one below? Through Fairy Halls, Olive Beaupre Miller. Uploaded photo.

The illuminated capital letter “I” is a Morris design principle. http://www.victorianweb.org/art/design/morris/2.html

Mapp, Rennie. “Olive Beaupré Miller’s My Book House: From William Morris to Modernism Under One Roof.” Project MUSE. http://ezproxy.marshall.edu:2197/journals/modernism-modernity/v019/19.3.mapp.html

The Beauty of Paper

I have never given much thought to how paper could make a book more or less beautiful. It’s a design component that could be easily overlooked, especially in the presence of the more apparent aesthetic choices found in illustrations or text. My book of study was printed on uncoated paper, which means that the paper was not treated with a thin coating that makes the pages appear glossy. Uncoated paper absorbs the ink better so, while colors appear duller, this type of paper is more suitable for reading and writing. This type of paper is far more common in printed books and items like notebooks or stationery. Magazines and comic books are examples of materials printed on coated paper. Unfortunately, I could not detect a watermark within the pages of the book, nor does the volume contain a deckle edge. I’ve always thought that deckle edges give the book more personality, making the object and its contents seem more adventurous. Watermarks, on the other hand, might serve a higher purpose than pure interest. Kirsten Tyree of the Smithsonian institution states that watermarks were likely used to represent the person or company who made the paper. It would appear that watermarks serve the same purpose to paper makers that bookplates provide to book owners.

As far as the type of paper on which Through Fairy Halls is printed, I can only make an educated guess based on the type of paper most commonly used for books during this time period. Wove paper became the most popular paper producing method after its invention and that popularity still continues to this day. This type of paper is different from its predecessor, laid paper, due to the lack of lines running across the pages. Upon close examination, one can see the pattern on the laid paper left by the metal screen used to separate the pulp from the liquid in a process known as casting.

With wove paper, this mesh pattern is not as apparent. At the time Through Fairy Halls was printed, wove paper would have been the paper of choice for just over a century. Of course, the presses used to create this paper would have been updated as technological advances were made. Another paper making advancement that coincides with wove paper is the transition from using rag paper to wood pulp paper. I think wood pulp paper was used to create the pages of my book because the paper is yellowed with age. The lignin within the wood pulp causes paper to deteriorate much faster than the previously popular rag pulp, and this degeneration is demonstrated through the discoloration and brittleness of the pages.

I think the beauty of paper remains in its ability to promote what is represented on the pages. Paper shouldn’t detract from the words or illustrations. Instead, paper should serve as a common theme that unites all of the content.

Patricia, Hall. Raggedy Ann and Johnny Gruelle: A Bibliography of Published Works. Gretna: Pelican Publishing, 2001. 113. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Next Stop: The Printing Press

This week, I’ve been exploring the printing aspect of the My Bookhouse Collection. Armed only with the knowledge that Through Fairy Halls was copyrighted in 1920 and published by the Bookhouse for Children Publishers in Chicago, it took me a while to find anything related to printing. The third volume was published in 1924, and the publishing company was the same company that printed and distributed the collection. This particular printing was known as the 7th “G” printing, yet the terms “printing” and “edition” were used interchangeably by the publishing company. The highlight of my research was finding that Miller’s works were printed using chromolithography. As you might guess from the some of the root words in the name, this process involves printing in color, which was a relatively new advancement in the printing world. Having been invented in the mid-1800s, chromolithography is really just lithography in color.

Chromolithography is different from earlier printing processes in that it doesn’t involve any carving or etching. Instead, it’s a more chemically based process. An image that is to be reproduced as a chromolithograph must first be separated by color. Each color is drawn onto separate limestone slabs and then the spaces left over are covered with water and treated with a chemical solution to keep the drawn image from blurring or bleeding. Printing inks applied to the stone effectively adhere to the grease in the medium used to create the image, not the water surrounding it. The paper is pressed to the stone (now containing the inks on top of the grease) and is passed through the printing press. Since there is one stone for every color, the printers usually begin transferring the paler colors before moving to darker hues. The inks transfer from the grease to the paper, resulting in the printed image.

Can you imagine how many stones and inks it took to produce this image? http://www.rubylane.com/item/168166-BK833/My-Bookhouse-Through-Fairy-Halls-Vintage

Conrad Machine Lithography Press

Could this have been something like the press used for chromolithography?http://www.conradmachine.com/conradpresses/lithopresses/litho.html

In attempts to make this process slightly simpler, I offer a summary of chromolithographic printing:

1. Stones. As one of the most important pieces of equipment, the stones are what the image is first drawn on before it can be transferred to paper by the printing press.

2. Planographic Printing. This is how the chemical reactions are represented. Because nothing is being carved out or raised from the page, this process is all about a flat surface for the images to be reproduced.

3. Water and oil do not mix. That’s how the inks can transfer from the stone to the paper.

Until next time!

References:

Evanich, Joan. “Olive Beaupre Miller.” Winnetka Historical Society. http://winnetkahistory.org/gazette/olive-beaupre-miller/

Mapp, Rennie. “Olive Beaupré Miller’s My Book House: From William Morris to Modernism Under One Roof.” Project MUSE. http://ezproxy.marshall.edu:2197/journals/modernism-modernity/v019/19.3.mapp.html

Old Children’s Books. “My Book House, The Bookhouse for Children by Olive Beaupre Miller.” http://www.oldchildrensbooks.com/catalogues-lists/topic-lists/my-book-house-bookhouse-miller

Stories Upon Stories

Every book tells a story. Some tell more than one. In addition to the words the author and editor intended to be published, there are times when a book picks up an additional story with many more co-authors. Every time someone writes in the margins of a page or inserts a postcard or an old photograph as a bookmark, that individual contributes to a book’s provenance. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following definitions for “provenance”: 1) The origin or source of something. 2) The history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature. I like to think of provenance as a book’s life story, or history. It’s a way to trace who has previously owned or borrowed the book and provides a fleeting glimpse into the lives of individuals who share at least one commonality: they all, at one time, perused the same book. A book’s provenance is like a string of beads on a necklace; each contribution distinct with a definitive beginning and end, yet all linked by a common thread.

One exceedingly interesting and beautiful part of provenance is the bookplate. Bookplates are images generally attached by an adhesive to the inside front cover of a book in order to show ownership. Bookplates can be simple or intricate and are meant to represent the owner. It’s just another way to leave a piece of yourself in a book. Find more on bookplates here, and enjoy a couple of bookplates that piqued my interest.

Check out the intricacies of this bookplate! It’s absolutely stunning. http://www.exlibris-art.com/ex-libris-of-famous-american-historical-figures/ (P.S. Click the image!)

While looking through my book of study, I noted that, aside from two stamps and a barcode sticker, this edition of Through Fairy Halls does not have any provenance. The ink stamp, the imprint on one page, and the barcode all tell the same story: Marshall University Libraries own this book. I wondered if I could find out who had previously owned this collection or who had gifted the set to the library, but it turns out that there wasn’t a gift note or order form associated with these volumes. This means that this collection certainly wasn’t ordered, and, if it was a gift, the donating patron did not wish to have his or her contribution formally acknowledged.

Any time I encounter a piece of provenance in textbooks or novels, I feel as though I have discovered a secret clue or hidden treasure. Provenance can make you feel a kinship with others who read the book before you or make you consider the book’s content in an entirely different light.

Curiouser & Curiouser

Today, I’m taking a detour and exploring a book of a different kind, but, don’t worry, I’ll be back to discussing my volume of fairy tales and myths  later this week. The assignment guiding this post is to write about an unusual book. I’d say The Mechanical Word by Karen Bleitz with texts by Richard Price certainly qualifies. Once again, I’ve chosen to write about a collection, as opposed to one piece, but I’ll be speaking about the collection as a whole since the premise behind each volume is the same.

The Mechanical Word allows readers to interact with language in a more profound way than just reading words on a page, thus prompting a reflection of how we use and rearrange language. Each volume elicits interactions from readers because, in order to read the book, you have to move one of the simple machines embedded within the book. These mechanical processes change the poem, and certainly the way in which the poem is read and interpreted, based on how one manipulates the machines on each page. Check out some of these pictures for examples of what the pages in these books look like:

Demonstration of a page in the book. The white side is the first one readers encounter, and it serves as a tutorial for the following colorful page. Notice the text covered and uncovered by the machine’s movement. https://karenbleitz.sharepoint.com/Pages/mechanicalword2.aspx

Can you imagine how this one might be moved? http://arceditions.com/artists/karen-bleitz/the-mechanical-word

I consider this an unusual book, or collection of books, for a couple of reasons. First, technology and the book are being creatively combined. In this book, words are not the only vehicles of thought. Machines are being used in conjunction with words in order to convey an idea. I don’t tend to consider books as technological objects. Usually, it is an either/or situation, but Karen Bleitz has made technology and books a both/and scenario. Second, this collection does more than display poetry in a beautiful and interesting light; it prompts (or intends to prompt) readers to profoundly reflect on the way in which words affect other words. Since words are expressions of ideas, these books then bring to life how real concepts and beings affect others. This book demands active participation from readers.

Frequently, reading a book is a passive activity. While the same book can be interpreted in numerous ways, the reader is still perusing lines from left to right and turning pages one by one. The Mechanical Word explores additional dimensions and makes reading more interactive. This collection is like a hands-on demonstration of how one entity affects another, but infused with the emotions and background of the reader. Bleitz’s work breaks down a sentence or an idea to its very core components through the use of moving parts in order to call attention to the infinite number and meanings of possible linguistic arrangements. I highly recommend hearing Bleitz’s explanation of The Mechanical Word by clicking this link. I know it’s a bit long, but the talk and accompanying illustrations really start getting interesting around the 8 minute mark. These books are so intriguing, and I’d definitely want to interact with one of them. Do you find this concept as interesting as I did?