This post was created by Annemarie Munn who was part of SFCBs In-House Printer pilot program. She worked with Studio Manager, Rhiannon Alpers to print and bind Christie Nelson’s “My Moveable Feast” illustrated by Fiona Taylor.
Printing a book is so different from printing a set of illustrations, a business card, a poster, or even an art print. A book has extra dimensions; in addition to the look of it, one must consider the way it is touched, the way it is read, the way the illustrations and the words complement each other, the subject matter, and of course practical matters like the pagination and the binding.
In this case, both the design of the book and the materials “get out of the way” of the art and the writing as much as possible. “My Moveable Feast” does something that is both very simple and very complex: it touches lightly upon memories, in order to go deeply into them. It is very limited in scope: four meals, each from a different era in the writer’s life, and yet it conveys a sense of expansiveness — never does it leave you with a sense of incompleteness, of something missing. One has the sense, reading it, that what you are reading is not merely a snapshot of a meal, but something which reveals a whole person. The images, which depict the food in question, almost do the opposite: in their focus and simplicity, they draw attention to what is not depicted. They show what is seen, what the speaker of the book describes, rather than the person at its center. The way the illustrations and the text speak to and with each other is really interesting, and I believe Rhiannon’s design, which features full-bleed illustrations opposite prose blocks with generous margins, highlights this relationship to great advantage.
I used very light ink coverage in order to complement both Fiona’s spare and nostalgic illustrations as well as the overall tone of the book, as well as a smooth, soft paper for the pages. Because so much of the book references ocean and sky, and because of the softness of the tone, we chose a quiet blue for the cover, in a thick stock, and a deeper blue thread for the binding.
Through the production of this book, and through working with Rhiannon Alpers as the In House Printer, I learned so much about the production of a book, and production letterpress in general, from bidding a job and ordering materials to staying organized, as well as new technical and artistic skills. From minor press mechanics to back-to-front page registration and even tricks to improve the production of polymer plates, it was a truly wonderful learning experience.
Christie and Fiona really made this project special; before I ever arrived on the scene, they worked for months with Rhiannon on the design, and once we began printing, they were enthusiastic visitors to the print shop, wonderful participants and cheerleaders in the process. It’s rare that one gets to truly collaborate on the production of a book or any printed work, and I feel lucky to have had the chance to work with such warm and talented women.
To find out more about the Author and to purchase this book, go to http://www.christienelson.com