Monday, January 23, 2012

The End of Summer

Last year I sat in on a print making class taught by Jean Dibble at the University of Notre Dame. I wanted to learn a bit about bookmaking and the use of a letterpress. I also wanted to attempt some broadsides on the Vandercook press the shop has. As I thought about what text I would use for this experiment I wondered if any pals that are much more adept at word play then myself would be up to lending me some of their work. I sent out a few emails and my friend the writer and teacher, Bret Anthony Johnston was the first to respond. We were both very excited at the possibilities of collaborating on something.
Bret sent me two of his short pieces, one 340 words the other 720. I primarily chose the 340 word short story “The End of Summer” because of time constraints and my worries that I would probably mess something up on my first attempt at this process. Secondly, I really responded to Bret’s characters and the way he played the teenage relationship out in such a short amount of space. Trying to pick what image to represent the story was the easiest part of the process. I read through the story many times trying to just submerge it into my thinking. The fingers on the back seemed like an easy choice but I kept wandering back to the image of the coyote barking at the ocean waves. I don’t think I had ever thought of a coyote near an ocean. Maybe a river or stream. The image stuck so I went with that.
The limited type resources in the shop created many opportunities for me to diverge from any plan of what I thought the finished piece might look like. As I began to lay the type for the text I became concerned about having enough type in the same font style to set the whole story out at once. First there wasn’t enough “b” type so I figured out a way to use “q’s”, then there weren’t enough capital letters but I found enough in a different font to cover, later I wasn’t happy with the “b” solution but somehow was able to dig up enough “b’s” to finish the story…
Paper considerations were another aspect I hadn’t thought much about. Luckily, a friend had recommended Mohawk Super Fine paper for printing so I ordered a batch and used that for printing. The white of the paper is pretty bright and the ink just seemed to lay perfectly into it. At some point I also pulled some strange rippled dark brown stock of paper a studio mate had left me just to see what the contrast would do. I ended up liking the way the dark paper changed the feel of the broadside giving it a more somber tone. I printed up a few extra prints on this paper just for kicks. In the end it all worked out perfectly. Bret was pretty impressed with the outcome and we’re looking forward to collaborating some more in the near future. If you are interested in purchasing one of these broadsides signed by Bret and myself contact Bret through his website.

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