The happy bicyclist in my avatar, and the wheels and street scenes that appear at the top of this page are part of a children’s book I started making in February, 2009. Using wood blocks and moveable type, I’ve nearly completed Common Household Rhymes for the Modern Child, a collection of multicolor relief illustrations, and accompanying rhymes.
I’m releasing it Friday, December 2 at William Busta Gallery. I hope you’ll join me.
I wrote, illustrated, carved, typeset, printed, and bound it. There are 74 wood blocks, eight linoleum blocks, and one block cobbled together out of wood and copper wire used to make each book. A total of 17 pictures, plus moveable type. We’re talking old school.
I’ve hand cranked the cylinder of a half-century-old Vandercook proofing press at Zygote Press 10,000 times. I’ve adjusted registration by the width of a sharp pencil line, slipping in whisper thin strips of lead, and cranking it over again. I’ve stitched 100 bindings. So you can imagine I am, shall we say, enthused to send this out into the world with a party.
I’m exceedingly grateful to Bill Busta for believing that to be a good idea. So I hope you will join me at his gallery to be among the first to see this collection of children’s rhymes and accompanying pictures.
The rhymes play in the realm of domestic life in a decidedly Cleveland setting. There’s vernacular architecture, and a couple of nods to specific buildings. There are cats, mice, an orange fish, a bicycle ride in the depopulated city at night, and a workbench cluttered with tools. There is the true fact that adults get to stay up much later than children do.
The subjects are very familiar to kids, but the words don’t talk down to them in any sense. In fact, they aim high, calling on kids to observe, make connections to the world around them, and to other rhymes, and bits of culture. This is a book for parents of strong readers.
I’ll continually add to this story on this blog, but for now, I hope you’ll save the date and join me for my book launch. We’ll have some wine and light horsd’oeuvres. It’ll be fun.
Common Household Rhymes for the Modern Child
Book Release Party
6 to 9 p.m. Friday, December 2
William Busta Gallery,
2731 E Prospect Avenue Cleveland