Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 4: You are here

   Sometimes, life comes to the fore-front and a person is forced to accept how tenuous existence is. This happens most often when experiencing the death of a loved one. Amid the profound sadness and sense of loss, there is also an acute awareness of life... of living and breathing right that minute.  So, mixed with the memories of a loved one is the sense to reach out to others, to live in the present, to avoid procrastination, and to truly live this exact moment in timeThat is the basis of this week's book-of-the-week, You are here.
the set
   You are here is expressed as a set of cards.. (which are handed out), a box to house them, and an edition of eight small accordion books. The title comes from the term, "you are here" which is often seen on maps which are standing in a place.. like a large building or tourist attraction. These maps all have a starting point. When a death occurs, sometimes the only positive is the idea that this moment is all we really have... It is a starting point, as well as an end.

the bookish box that holds the cards...
edition of 8 accordion books

the accordion books sprung open..

an accordion book... Raleigh map on the cover
   You are here was printed on a Vandercook letterpress using antique lead type with Sans Serif typeface. Paper used  for the cards was Mohawk cover and for the books was Magnani Velata. A 2009 North Carolina road map was used for the cover of the box and the accordion books.

type and furniture locked in the press bed
The type was set in the press bed so multiple cards (and pages) could be printed at once.

type: all locked up in the press bed
When setting movable type, one learns to read upside down and backwards... Is this another way to live in the present? Maybe.

type, upside down and backwards...
When printing on an antique letterpress, only one ink color can be printed at a time. So for multiple colors (like last week's book of 5 colors), each new color must be applied to a new run. For You are here, over 100 cards and 8 accordion books were printed twice.. once in black, and once in red.

first printing of the black ink

accordion book, printed with black
Because the ink is wet, it's best to let it dry in a rack overnight before adding the new color.. That way, no smudges!

first run, drying in the rack...
Part of hand-printing is mixing the ink colors. A Pantone Color Guide has every hue imaginable and very easy directions for getting just the right shade.

the Pantone color guide for #187C
A spatula and glass sheet are all that are needed to mix ink.

mixing the right hue of red ink
Once the ink is applied to the letterpress rollers, the job is ready to run!

pretty red inked rollers
Tricks can be found to lessen the amount of papers that must be fed through the press.. In this case, the paper was cut double-wide so it could be rotated and rerun on the opposite side of the paper. In the image below, the red stars have been printed on one side and the paper is ready to be rotated 180º.. to print the red stars on the other side.

sheet on the roller, printing color 2 
When the cards and books were printed with both colors and the ink had dried,  the edition of eight accordion books was folded and assembled into tiny 1-inch x 3-inch books. The map covers were specifically chosen to match the home base of certain loved ones.

maps for the covers...

completed and all stretched out
The final step involved fabrication of the box to house the cards. Bookboard, black linen bookcloth, and the North Carolina roadmap completed the job. When all the cards are handed out, maybe more cards will be printed.. or the box can be used to hold some mementos.. Who knows? ...That is another week.

a card for you..
A side note about this week's blog focusing on loss through death and embracing the present... It isn't always easy to move out of the fog of grief.. sometimes time is the only thing that moves one out of that fog. On the first day of printing, the area around the letterpress studio was one foggy mass. Perhaps it was realities' way of tempering the ideal.

fog outside the studio
Sometimes living in a fog is part of being in the present too... as well as reflecting on all that we are missing...

reflections in the letterpress studio

1 comment:

  1. The "You Are Here" card is being carried around my house and studio. It serves me as a wonderful reminder that I physically exist in the present and mentally I often am somewhere else. A great focus tool.