Friday, May 31, 2013

The Mid-Century Russian Book

Books in Russia were typeset and printed much the way many books were made elsewhere in the mid-century. Kak Pechatali Vashu Knigu (translated: How Your Book Was Printed) is a 1951 children's book, by Samuil Marshak (1887 - 1964) who was a writer, translator, satirist and children's poet. This lovely book about the printing trade is remarkable for many reasons, and makes me wish to see more. I am fortunate as it is just down the street from me. It is from the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections Division in the Children's Historical Literature Collection. The illustrator is listed as A. Ermolaev, but I could find little record of this artist other than a Nikolai Andrianovich Ermolaev who did this work
     The pressmen and women are all wearing hats as they examine the latest sheets off the mighty large press, and the light-filled pressroom with the shiny shiny floor makes for a wonderful workplace in the big city. What child wouldn't want to take up this trade? It took many skilled working hands to make books of this kind in the 1950s, and they will continue to impress and inspire many of us for generations because of the libraries who share them. This makes me very happy.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Historic Decorated Papers

Many of these strikingly beautiful decorated papers designed originally for use as book covers and endsheets, are roughly 300 years old. This collection belongs to Carmencho Arregui, a bookbinder living in Italy. Trained as a book conservationist, Arregui now specializes in modern conservation bindings and flexible, non-intrusive book structures. Bindings of decorated paper are often so underrated, yet so remarkably beautiful. I am delighted to find this collection of Arregui's fine papers, and to learn more about her book structures and the modern conservation bindings of antiquarian books

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Corn Lettering From Space

In 2002 French architect Edouard Francois designed Labyrinthus, in collaboration with Luc Vincent as part of an invitational corn maze design. It was a tribute to French author Victor Hugo. With the aid of digital mapping, corn mazes have become a cash crop for farmers. With a simple image search for corn maze, dozens of mazes will pop up there. Most are giant sports team mazes or political candidates; mazes with sponsorship from local car dealerships; and Star Wars. There is even an Oprah maze and a giant fingerprint. Much of the lettering is what I would call a Corn Gothic, with an occasional italic tossed in for emphasis I guess. And the navigation of corn typography certainly takes on a different role than text does in print or on screen. I know mazes require a wayfinding path between letters most often, but would it kill the designer to use a script font now and then? Readability from space people! For some real topographical typography, get a fine lettering artist to do the job. Even the directionally challenged might better be able to find their way out then...provided they can spell. From seeds of great lettering artists, grand designs can grow. Do plant soon however.

Labyrinthus by Edoardo Francois and Luc Vincent. Just below, the Fritzler Family Farms offers up Peyton Manning and the US Department of Defense. Must be in defense of corn mazes?

The Kraay Family Farm in Alberta established the Guinness world's record for the largest QR code. Just below are two mazes (found here and here) from the Jonamac Orchard Farm. The Boy Scouts were probably required to use a compass to find their way out of their maze.

In hopes that you find your way, the Willamette Valley Fruit Co. grew a 13 acre corn maze. And Batman leaves Gotham long enough to stand guard as the Maze Crusader at the Basse's Farm

You will never get out of this one alive. From the makers of high fructose corn syrup via NBC News.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Black & White and Read All Over

It is no wonder that Lorenzo Petrantoni spends much of his time pouring through old books to find artworks to photocopy for his collage illustrations. His most recent exhibit in Milan included over 22,000 individual pieces of paper attached to the gallery walls, and 800 time pieces, to illustrate the word Timestory. The exhibit is now past, but you can fortunately see his new Timestory book on the same topic which was just released by Gestalten. He must have the patience and organization of a librarian in order to keep track of all those little scraps of paper.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bet You Can't Print Just One

Novelty stamp pads and printing sets have long been familiar toys for young children, and often were the first introduction most of us had to the world of printing and moveable type if you came of age before computers (BC.) The pleasure of printing multiples of anything by hand endowed us with a certain privilege and entitlement. Even the lowly potato gained a lofty respect the first time I discovered it was a printmaking tool. I wouldn't trade an entire plate of french fries for that moment. 

Yes kids, 1935 was a world without spellcheck. 

All stamp pads and sets displayed are from the Letterology Archives with exception of the most Excellent Self-inking Stamp Pad, currently on eBay. The Dutch Drukkerij set, and the King Novelty Stamp Set, were both eBay posts from long ago. Oh, and Mr. Potato Skull here, who has undoubtedly made the best impression of all.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's Shop Time!

Grand Bazar is the latest screenprinted book release from Franitcham, the dynamic book-making duo behind Redfoxpress in Ireland. This colorful new forty page book is one of their grandest to date. It is largely a commentary on consumerism, and the visual advertising and marketplace culture we are besieged with daily. This 40 page book is screenprinted in many colors on a variety of papers, and measures in roughly at 12 x 17 inches. And yes, you can shop for this grand book here.