It takes a village to make a book

Everyone stands on the shoulders of others (sometimes giants!) to make anything. None of us mine iron ore and smelt it, create silicon designs from our chips and build fabrication plants, or cut down trees, mill them, and make our own plywood. We’re all part of a big industrial and economic ecosystem.

But it's true at a micro level as well. This was a big, big day in progress on the book, which I would like to reveal will be called Not To Put Too Fine a Point on It. While the project I called "Hands On," the book has a different nature and thus a different title, and encompasses the book, the keepsake, and the village and community that’s been nurturing me.

Why such a big day?

Scott Hill, owner of Evolution Press, dialing in the automated cutting program. My mentor did the cutting.

Scott Hill, owner of Evolution Press, dialing in the automated cutting program. My mentor did the cutting.

  • We cut the paper. Neenah Paper very graciously donated a box of uncut paper required for the book, and though my mentor, Jenny, Evolution Press let us use their magnificent computerized cutter to produce the 12½-by-17–inch press sheets from which the book will be printed, and the cover and endpapers made. (Thank you, Neenah and Evolution.)
  • My bookbinder, Jules Remedios Faye, sent a glued and sewn dummy of the book using samples and printed scraps from my tests. It looks magnificent. I’ll post nice photos later. I am in love with what she, Jenny, and I came up with as the approach.
  • Boxcar Press, which is providing a significant discount for this project, produced the first signature worth of plates for me. That's two press sheets, which comprise four folios, which will be cut down, folded, and sewn together. There are four signatures total. Those plates arrive Friday!

All of these contributions of time, insight, and effort have made the book better, and made it not just my thing, but the product of a community of knowledge that incorporates all the people touching it and all their teachers and colleagues. When you print, you become part of a thread of people and expertise that spans an unbroken passing-on of lessons across nearly 600 years—and even further back for paper and other specialties.

There’s a joy to and a myth of making something by yourself, for yourself. I embrace the village and I’m so glad to have an extended community of support from the project’s backers to the School of Visual Concepts to its community and fellow students and beyond. This is a work that’s entirely mine and that’s entirely benefited from all the participation of others. (The binding, however, will be entirely Jules’! She’s offered to let me do some of the work, though!)

The current plan has me starting to print, very carefully, on Saturday, and then printing every day for the two weeks that follow. To make sure I have enough quality prints done, I will likely be printing 200 press sheets, which are printed in two or three colors for each side, making a maximum of 8 sheets by 2 sides by 3 colors by 200 copies or 9,600 impressions. In actuality, because the third color will be just for chapter numbers, and because there isn't a second color on every page, it will be more in the 6,000 to 7,000 range. 

This keeps the project roughly on track for its late August shipping. July and August will involve finishing up any interior page printing I didn't get done during the two-sprint; the end papers; the cover treatment, which is still under consideration; and the binding. And I'll be printing the keepsakes in there, too.