William Busta’s gallery was on Murray Hill Road in Cleveland’s Little Italy, so I know it was way back in the nineties when I walked in one day to check out his book show. It was there that I learned how to make this simple book out of a single sheet of paper. You print or photocopy on one side of a single sheet, then fold and cut just so until you get a little book.
That form has been a favorite of mine for years, mostly because of its simplicity. But I also like the economy of it, and how gracefully the modest format presents a simple idea: a short poem, or even a single sentence broken into phrases.
So when I learned to set type and started printing on the Vandercooks at Zygote Press, it wasn’t long before I went back to the little, single sheet structure to make little books.
I’ve refined the process quite a bit, and in June I’m offering a two-day class at the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Education Foundation. Over the course of two days, each member of the class will work hands-on with type and printing blocks to make an edition of his or her own little book.
If you’ve used a letterpress machine before, you know that setting up type for a project like this would be a significant challenge, probably involving lots of trial and error. Each block of text has to be aligned to print in the right place on your sheet, so that once it’s folded and cut, everything is positioned properly on your pages.
I’ve created a “chase” to make this process a snap, and that idea is the central feature of this class: making your book project easy.
A “chase” is a metal frame used to lock type or printing blocks in place on a press. I’ve made a couple of these out of wood. They look like divided windows, and the spaces are measured precisely to lay out your words and pictures so that they print exactly in the right place to make one of these little books.
Do you have a favorite poem? A beautiful sentence you’d like to pass on to your friends? This is an elegant way to package a simple thought that anyone can carry in their pocket. The next little book I make in this format is going to echo the sentiment of this blog: A bicycle . . . is a gyroscope . . . . that takes you places.
The class is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10 at the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation, 1754 E. 47th Street, Cleveland, OH 44103. For information, call them at 216-361-9255. Or just sign up online by going to their website. I hope to see you!