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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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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:


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!

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Dead Parrots, Inky Parrots and Abecedarians

An Avian Alphabet - published by the Inky Parrot Press

Back in 1996 I put linocut artist Elizabeth Rashley in touch with Dennis Hall, a printer and publisher of fine limited-edition books. Dennis had run The Inky Parrot Press at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) since 1980, specialising in illustration and producing books printed lithographically. The Inky Parrot Press took its name from the Poly in Polytechnic.

Inky Parrot Press

Dennis had recently retired and, despite running the Inky Parrot Press for years, and despite the Polytechnic having no intention of continuing the Press without him, he was unable to take the name ‘Inky Parrot Press’ with him into a fertile ‘retirement’ of busy book production. Brands are like babies. When you work for so many years to establish a name and an identity for something you have created with your own hard work, vision, skills and determination it’s a wrench to see it languishing in the hands of someone else who has no intention of doing anything with it.

With typical style, Dennis was undeterred and founded the Previous Parrot Press to carry on his good work. This led to many Monty Python-inspired gags about deceased parrots, all of which helped to seal the Press in the affections of its eager customers.

In 1996, after I contacted him, he suggested an alphabet book of birds with text by Nyr Indictor and linocut illustrations by Elizabeth Rashley and so An Avian Alphabet was born. Dennis loved the linocuts so much he felt that they had to be printed life-size and direct from the original blocks. Here therefore reconstituted his old team, with printer Harry Crook and published An Avian Alphabet under the old Inky Parrot Press imprint.

It’s a beautiful book.

“…the full alphabet is so splendid, so lively, so strong and witty, with an appreciation of the medium that Edward Bawden would have commended.”
Olive Cook, wife of Edwin Smith and friend of Edward Bawden.

18 years later and a quick search threw up this copy of An Avian Alphabet currently on sale from Bromer Books for $700. It’s one of the hand-coloured edition which I painstakingly hand-coloured. I was never convinced by the hand-colouring I did, which seemed to distract from the very graphic images, but it did mean that the Special Edition made the whole publication financially worthwhile.

An Avian Alphabet - Bromer Booksellers

Production was a nightmare as the linocut blocks needed so much more ink than the text that each had to be printed separately. The text was so long that having chosen a decorative font Dennis found that there were not enough lead letters in the case to set the full text so the pages had to be printed, re-set and then printed again. Looking at it though, who would guess?

Coming Soon: Ark-Bound Creatures, an alphabet book by Nyr Indictor and Elizabeth Rashley published by the Avenue Press – available to pre-order here soon!

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An ABC of Ark-Bound Creatures to be Bound

Ark-Bound Creatures

There’s a new book in the works here at the Avenue Press. It’s still a pile of unfolded pages and printed covers waiting to be bound, but it is most definitely in the works.

Called Ark-Bound Creatures, it is an alphabet book with text by Nyr Indictor and linocut illustrations by Elizabeth Rashley.

Ark-Bound Creatures

Alphabet books are an ancient tradition. They changed over time from being just an aid for young people learning to read to being collectable and loved by people of all ages. They’ve also become the passion and fascination of alphabetographers or abecedarians too. There’s also a new tradition of producing beautiful ABCs as illustrated books.

The earliest known printed English pictorial alphabet is John Hart’s A Methode, Or Comfortable Beginning For All Unlearned from 1570 which illustrated each letter with a woodcut of an object which began with that letter. After this, illustrations became a standard part of ABC books. With Ark-Bound Creatures, the Avenue Press is continuing a tradition which has a 444 year history.

ABC books produced to help children learn to read became so common that the nursery rhyme ‘A was an apple pie, B bit it, C cut it, D dealt it . . .’ was already well known in Charles II’s time. In 1742 ‘A was an archer’ first appeared in the ‘Tom Thumb Alphabet’ which has: ‘A was an Archer who shot at a frog, B was a Butcher and had a great dog, C was a Captain all covered with lace, D was a Drunkard and had a red face…’

Ark-Bound Creatures takes its inspiration from the Biblical tale of Noah and his family who count the animals into the Ark two by two. In Ark-Bound Creatures Nyr indictor has ‘A Couple of Cats’ and a ‘Duet of Dogs’ with delightful creative alliteration of the collective nouns throughout. Elizabeth Rashly’s linocuts capture each couple in vigorous linocuts with each pair tightly confined in a square composition.

“And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive.”
Genesis 6:19 – 20

I can’t wait to see what the binders do with my loose pages. Four weeks and counting!