Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Box Challenge - Woody Guthrie

It seems appropriate timing given the current climate, that the last two of my designs dealt with Huey Long, the populist politician, and now Woody Guthrie, who once said famously when accused of being a red..."I dont know about any reds, but I been in the red all my life..."

Politics aside, it is becoming clear the last few years that the most valuable tool in the bindery, apart from the scharfix, has been the large lightbox, found on the street some years ago, close to our first shop in Chelsea. An unbelievable find thanks to PDB CEO Denise Dovey.

I use it to trace patterns and images to make stencils for airbrushing, patterns for tooling and onlaying, to prepare designs using printed goatskins, tracing designs onto templates, and also now, in the production of off-set printed goatskin, and photo-transfer.

Now photo-transfer is nothing new, I first did some at LCP a decade ago, using acetone - but I never got results like this. The latest discovery in printing on goatskin, is quick, easy, and effective...and you dont need to use any plates, you dont need a vandercook, or any toxic chemicals. Its not a new technique, but it works well for goatskin, and has unlimited possibilities when it comes to constructing a cover design based on collage and used with other techniques.

The photo on the front board is from the LOC digital archive, and a famous picture taken possibly by Dorothea Lange(not sure), blown up, cropped, and manipulated in photoshop - sharpening contrast and exposure will ensure a good print. The photo on the back is taken from the opening shot of Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" which I found fitting to use considering Woody's song about Tom Joad, included in the book "American Folksong", the box for which houses Guthrie's own copy.(that's tom in the distance)When I think of American Folk in that era, I see baptists, hobos, blue jeans, riding the rails, windmills, dirt crossroads, and yes, clearly telegraph poles.

If I had been making this design for myself, I would have completed the design with rows of stormtrooper police, and sprayed anarchist signs all over it, giving it a topical and menacing look, a nod to Guthrie's own politics - "This machine kills fascists"....but its not, and I think using the pictures evokes Guthrie's era, and a sense of american folk, with a much more subtle flavour.

The box was finished with tooled outlines of images of Guthrie, which i decided to keep to the side, so as not to distract from the image. I also decided to just leave it there. It is lettered down the spine as it is a rather large and narrow box.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Boston GBW Standards

Denise and I are in Boston this weekend, with the rest of the bookbinding community.  Boston is hosting the Annual, Standards Seminar for the Guild of Bookworkers.   Various seminars, bindery tours, and  all our favorite bookbinding vendors in one city.  Registration is closed, but the vendor room is open to the public....see you at the

Boston Park Plaza hotel
50 Park Plaza,
Arlington st.

We shall be making a first visit to bBromer's Booksellers around the corner too