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A Few of My Favourite Books #6

Happy Days Through Safety Days by Caroline Glicksman

Caroline Glicksman is my favourite illustrator. (Now known as Caroline Whitehead). Her ability to tell hilarious stories in images is unsurpassed and I find everything she has done utterly delightful. ‘Happy Days Through Safety Days‘ is a folding concertina book inspired by the road signs she saw when travelling through Cochin in India.

From “Right way is to keep left always” to “When safety dies, accident is born”, the simple, awkward, home-spun wisdom of the text is charming. The startling colour scheme of cyan, magenta, yellow and black is perfect for the vibrant images. The whole concertina is a triumph.

The book is screenprinted in an edition of 27 copies (mine is number 26 – phew! Just got there in time!). Please check out Caroline’s other work at www.carolinewhitehead.com

I hope you’ve enjoyed the third of A Few of My Favourite Books and the tiniest glimpse into my collection. Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. Thank you.

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A Few of My Favourite Books #5

Tripp by John Brunner illustrated by Paul Piech

Trip: A Sequence of Poems Through the USA is a book by John Brunner illustrated with linocuts by Paul Piech and printed by the Keepsake Press in 1971. It was printed in a limited edition of 200 copies of which 50 were numbered and signed by John Brunner. Mine is a signed copy.

John Brunner was a British author of science fiction novels. As I child I read his 1968 novel Stand On Zanzibar about an overpopulated world which won the 1969 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel. I loved it. I explored some of his other science fiction and found a great groundswell of humanity in his writing. 20 or so years ago I cam across this card-covered book of his poetry and as soon as I saw the linocuts and John Brunner’s signature I knew I had to have it.

The title page has 1970s charm, with the decorative border. The linocuts are simply carved and expressive. It’s a joy to hold.

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A Few of My Favourite Books #4

Siegfried the Mighty Warrior illustrated by Laszlo Gal

In A Few Of My Favourite Books I share some delightful books from my personal collection. The fourth book from my collection is Siegfried the Mighty Warrior by Maria Luisa Gafaell de Vivanco illustrated by Laszlo Gal.

It was originally published in Milan in 1965 and published in the UK in 1967 by Paul Hamlyn. I was given a copy in the 1970s as a young child. Given how fashionable mid-century style is now, I wonder whether that is going to spread to mid-century illustration? I think a whole new generation need to discover Laszlo Gal and an older generation need to rediscover him.

Laszlo Gal is one of my favourite illustrators because he gives a life to characters which is perfectly in tune with the book and yet gives the story a whole new perspective because of his artistic vision.

Laszlo Gal is brilliant in the use of dense repetitive pattern in blocks with the use of scratched and textured backgrounds. He uses strong graphic blocks of texture and colour with exaggerated bodies with small hands, heads and feet. The book is a delight.

Siegfried the Mighty Warrior illustrated by Laszlo Gal

I also love the way the text and images work together on the double-page spreads. Here the image and the three columns of text are balanced perfectly with a wide blank column to the left:

Siegfried the Mighty Warrior illustrated by Laszlo Gal

I hope you’ve enjoyed the third of A Few of My Favourite Books and the tiniest glimpse into my collection. Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. Thank you.

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A Few of My Favourite Books #3

The Frog Prince(ss) by Caroline Glicksman - hand screenprinted in 1998

In A Few Of My Favourite Books I share some delightful books from my personal collection. The third book from my collection is The Frog Prince(ss) by Caroline Glicksman. Caroline understands visual storytelling so well that this single sheet folding concertina book is a masterclass in sequential illustration. Printed in a four-colour palette of green, yellow, purple and pink, the story plays with all our pre-conceived notions of fairy tales, family relationships and storytelling. Every page is a surprise and a delight. From the start, the book is a standard fairy tale, with its “Once upon a time…” opening line. We all know that this frog used to be a prince, because that’s what all our childhood stories told us, however, his statement “But life’s much better as a frog” instantly warns us that traditional fairytale tropes are going to be seriously subverted.

The Frog Prince(ss) by Caroline Glicksman - hand screenprinted in 1998

One of the joys of this book is in the details: the bride and groom both have frog tongues. The frong prince and princess have a pond full of tadpoles each of which have crowns upon their heads.

The Frog Prince(ss) was hand screenprinted in an edition of 85 copies in 1998. Mine is copy number 45.

Caroline Glicksman is an author and illustrator of children’s fiction. Her first picture book, Eric the Red was published by Random House Children’s Books in 2001 and was followed by the sequel Eric & the Red Planet in 2005. Caroline has also written and illustrated the Walker Books title Big Black Dog. Caroline has more recently collaborated with Simon Hutton, providing the black white line illustrations for Brilliant Billy’s Book of Dinosaurs and Brilliant Billy Does His Bit, both published by Andersen Press. Caroline is currently working on some new picture book ideas.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the third of A Few of My Favourite Books and the tiniest glimpse into my collection. Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. Thank you.

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In Search of An Insect Alphabet

When we published An Insect Alphabet we made two editions – A Standard Edition of 90 copies and a Special Edition of 10 copies. Both sold out exceptionally quickly.

I was meant to keep a hand-coloured Special Edition for myself, but never did; unfortunately. I did a search for it yesterday and found a copy for sale in Bristol for £175. It seems like a bargain now given the huge amount of care that went into its creation.

An Insect Alphabet - Special Edition - copy for sale

An Insect Alphabet (Special Edition) by Melanie Wickham and David Bailey published by the Avenue Press

For some reason I always loved the earwigs.

An Insect Alphabet (Special Edition) by Melanie Wickham and David Bailey published by the Avenue Press

When I only had ten copies of the Standard Edition left I was approached by a Gallery in Cockermouth. Despite my better judgement I agreed – for the first time ever – to send books on a sale-or-return basis. None of them ever returned, but neither did the money. It still rankles. They could have gone to such better homes.

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Ark-Bound Creatures – Published Today!

Ark-Bound Creatures by Nyr Indictor and Elizabeth Rashley published by the AVENUE PRESS

Ark-Bound Creatures is back from the binders and looks utterly magnificent. The binders have done a wonderful job and the binding is tight, neat and precisely executed. It’s a beautiful object to hold. Why not treat yourself to a copy?

Ark-Bound Creatures by Nyr Indictor and Elizabeth Rashley published by the AVENUE PRESS

There are just 149 copies in the edition, of which 135 are for sale.

Here are my blog entries as the book was been being bound:

An ABC of Ark-Bound Creatures to be Bound – 12 September 2014

Sulby, Presspahn Hollow and French Joints – it’s all in the Quotation – 5 October 2014

Lining Ark-Bound Creatures – 5 October 2014

Making the Cases – Progress on Ark-Bound Creatures – 10 October 2014

Ark-Bound Creatures – Being Cased – 21 October 2014

It’s been a pleasure to create. I hope you will find it a pleasure to own. Order one from the shop today – or maybe a few for that extra special present.

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Ark-Bound Creatures – Being Cased

Casing in Ark-Bound Creatures

Exciting news that Ark-Bound Creatures is nearly ready and is being cased at this very moment. Here are the final stages of binding, where a large brush full of glue pastes the endpapers onto the case of the book:

Casing in Ark-Bound Creatures

The cases, book blocks and the finished books are looking great. The book will be available in the shop shortly!

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Making the Cases – Progress on Ark-Bound Creatures

Making the Cases - Ark=-Bound Creatures

Over the past few weeks I’ve been bringing you updates on the progress of our latest book: Ark-Bound Creatures by Nyr Indictor with linocut illustrations by Elizabeth Rashley. It’s currently at the Green Street Bindery.

Here’s today’s update as they create the cases for each of the books using greyboard. It’s looking great!
Making the Cases - Ark=-Bound Creatures

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Lining Ark-Bound Creatures

Ark-Bound Creatures being Lined - Avenue Press

Progress is good so far on binding our latest book – Ark Bound Creatures by Nyr Indictor and Elizabeth Rashley. Here it is being lined at the Green Street Bindery.

Ark-Bound Creatures being Lined - Avenue Press

Lining is the process of putting a hinge cloth on the spine of a book which will also be fixed to the endpapers and then putting lining paper on to cover the hinge cloth. It involves lots of glue.

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Sulby, Presspahn Hollow and French Joints – it’s all in the Quotation

Ark-Bound Creatures

We’re delighted that we have another book in works here at the Avenue Press. Called Ark-Bound Creatures, it’s a collaboration between Nyr Indictor and Elizabeth Rashley. The book is currently ‘at the binders’ being transformed from printed pages into a beautifully bound book.

When looking for a binder I tried several and the best was the Green Street Bindery the same bindery who bound An Insect Alphabet for us. They sent the quotation with a detailed list of the work they would undertake which appears to be written in an ancient code. Here’s what it said they would do:

Quotation

I thought you might like a translation of this ancient language, so here goes:

T/size 150x145mm(P): T/size means trim-size, which is the final size of the pages of the book. The size is height first and then width. I’m expecting the book to be a little shorter than this as the binder will need to trim the pages to make them level and the folding and gathering of pages will make some edges of the pages protrude from the block of pages.

64pps 8x8pp flat sheets supplied by customer: pps means pages, this means that the final book will have 64 pages. pp means page, so 8x8pp means that I’ve supplied the binders with eight sets of printed sheets, each of which has eight pages printed on them (four on one side and four on the other).

Ark-Bound Creatures

We to fold text sections: The binders will fold each single sheet of paper twice to put the pages in the right order and the right way up.

Endpaper (176g Parchmarque): The book will need endpapers – the pages at the beginning and end of the book – to join the text block of pages to the case. One side of each will be pasted to the inside of the front and back covers with the rest ‘free’ as the first and last pages.

Here is progress so far:

Wrap 4x8pp sections: The book has four signatures of 16 pages each rather than two signatures of 32 pages each. The individual folded sheets have to be inserted into one another so that the pages appear in the right order and form a ‘signature’: a bundle of pages which will be separately sewn together through the fold.

Gather: Gathering means putting the four folded sections of folded pages (the signatures) together in the right order so that the flow of pages is correct.

Sew 4 sections: This book is being casebound. That means the pages are joined together by sewing the pages together and then casing the pages in a hard cover made of board. Sewing with linen thread holds the pages securely and crucially allows the book to be opened fully. This isn’t a softback or ‘perfect bound’ book where the separate pages are simply put into a bed of glue which means the spine cracks. It’s a book built to last.

Sulby line: Sulby is a company which makes bookbinding equipment and holds patents for machinery to trim pages

Trim: The book will have trimmed pages which will have neat edges rather than showing the rough edges of hand-made paper or the uneven edges of folded sheets. Folding of the pages results in folds of paper at the top of the book block of pages which means you can’t open it because there’s a folded edge stopping you. The edges need to be trimmed to remove the fold so that you can see inside the folded paper.

White edges: The quotation says there are white edges just to make sure I’m not expecting the three edges of the book to be coloured or gilded as gilt and coloured edges are an extra cost.

Flat back: The spine of Ark-Bound Creatures will have a flat back rather than a curved back along the spine.

Presspahn Hollow: Presspahn is a firm which makes specialist papers, card and board. Presspahn hollow is a thin card used in the spines of casebound books.

Full bound: The cover to Ark-Bound Creatures is going to be full bound. That means that the printed paper cover covers the whole of the book cover. A quarter bound book has the spine covered in one material and the rest of the cover in another. A half bound book has th spine and the corners covered in one material and the rest in another. A three quarter bound book has the spine and the whole of the front edge of the book (called the fore-edge) covered in one material with the rest in another.

Printed paper case: The binders can use a variety of different materials to glue onto the board covers. They can use printed paper cases or cloth, imitation leather or leather covers. I’m just using printed paper, although I’ve chosen Canson Mi-Teintes, a heavy-duty textured paper which is acid-free, meaning the production method has left it pH neutral and so it won’t go seriously brown with age as the acid eats the paper from the inside.

2.25mm Greyboard: Greyboard is a board made especially for bookbinding. It is stiff, relatively smooth and leaves a clean edge when cut. It will form the hard back of the covers and be covered in heavyweight printed paper.

No blocking: It’s important for the binders to note that I’m not expecting them to use foil blocking on any combination of front, back and spine. Foil blocking is a way of putting metallic lettering or designes on book covers and is available in gold, silver or several other colours. They also do blind embossing, where they use pressure to make an impression without using any foil.

Cased: The final assembly of the book is called casing. This is where the book block is placed withing the outer case and secured to it.

French joints: A French joint or French groove is a bookbinding style where the spine of the book is separated from the front and back covers by a groove running from head to tail. This a stylish way of making a ‘crease’ where the cover can be opened without twisting the spine. If it didn’t have the groove running alongside the spine it might be called a Tight Back or a German Tube!

Pack into kraft parcels: One of the curiosities of the bookbinding world is their love of brown paper. I’ll be fascinated to see how my books are delivered. Probably in brown cardboard boxes, but will they be wrapped in kraft paper inside? I can’t wait to find out. Only a few weeks to go!