15 June 2007

More Books -- Help McSweeney's

McSweeney's needs help, so they've put all their books (and t-shirts, too) on sale. You know you need a t-shirt with squid on. Who doesn't? I do. Also, a book with a Neil Gaiman story in. Plus magazines (I have a couple issues of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern--good stories, fabulous design, and really way too thick and hardcoverish to be a mere "magazine"), lots of other books, strange stationery and more. Go, buy if you can, browse if you can't.

Oh, The Books

While looking online for a copy of Islamic Bindings and Bookmaking, which sells for absurd prices on ABE, I came across the David Brown/Oxbow Books website. Oh, so many books I would love to have in my library. They distribute for a lot of academic publishers, so they have a fantastic selection of books on illuminated manuscripts, swords, textiles, archaeology, and all sorts of other wonderful technical and fascinating things. Alas, the book I wanted is long out of print, but I found lots of other books to want. Perhaps it's time to get together the materials to revise my old sword papers and write those other sword articles I've been thinking about, and put them together into a book I can "publish" through Lulu. Hmmm . . .

Type Specimens

Yesterday my wood type class installed our group projects in various places around NSCAD. Two of the groups (including mine) installed in windows off the Granville Mall/courtyard--one in the Seeds building and one in the building right next door if you're looking for it. The third group put theirs in the display case in the Duke building elevator.

I'm not normally enthusiastic about group projects, but this one was fun. The main idea for the project was mine, and I kind of felt like maybe I was too much of a control freak, but everyone kept agreeing with me . . .

(Apologies for the shadows; click photos to embiggen.) It didn't turn out quite as fabulous as I'd imagined--we had problems getting the letters to hang right, and I would have liked the book to be propped up a bit, and the backdrop is obviously a white bedsheet--but considering the time constraints and the somewhat ambitious nature of the project, I think it came out pretty well.

Here's the project from the adjacent window:

And one of the elevator:

After the installation, we walked around and did a critique, then went back to the classroom and had food. We were sort of calling it our "opening," even though our class were the only people there, so I wore my tailcoat and pinned a leftover blue N to my lapel. It was fun.

Here are a couple of closeups of my group's project.

It's hard to see, but the letters in the books are loose, and pinned in like butterfly specimens. When I made the book, I had intended to do a quick case binding that wouldn't do much other than look good in the window, but I ended up staying up late one night making a nice solid proper binding with the tapes laced into the boards, and a hollow back, and everything. It's the biggest book I've ever made, and even though the pages are only cartridge paper, it'll make a fine sketchbook (or, I'm thinking, a book for practicing calligraphy in). Assuming the rest of my group lets me keep it.

All of the letters we used were printed on a Vandercook proofing press from old wood type, then carefully cut out. (If anyone ever has a surplus of money they don't know what to do with, I'd like a Vandercook, please.)

I think ours was the only piece of the three with a title. Oh, and I didn't put my name first because I'm an egotist; my group members insisted.

10 June 2007

Blog News

Right, so my archives disappeared from the sidebar a while back, which I figured was probably due to my blog using an older template. Therefore, I decided to finally upgrade to a new template. Alas, the choices are slim, and the one that was in similar colours to my old template wasn't one I especially liked. I actually really like this new one, except it's the very same one that Ryan (of Halifax) and Deva both chose for theirs.

And speaking of Ryan's and Deva's blogs, I bugged them until they gave in and started them, though Ryan hasn't yet posted all his interesting responses to various "proofs" for the existence of god, and other odds and ends I keep telling him would be good blog posts. You'll find his blog here (also in the sidebar). Deva's blog is full of all the interesting and wonderful things she has been exploring through her reading lately. I wanted her to blog about them so I could vicariously experience the research she's doing. Yay! Read her blog here (or click in sidebar).

Sometimes we have involved conversations about stuff like this too, so reading Deva's and Ryan's blogs is a bit like eavesdropping through the window of our apartment.

09 June 2007

The Wilds of Nova Scotia. With Books!

Yesterday, Deva and I had planned to go to Frenchy's, a secondhand place I've heard much about since moving here but never visited (I should clarify, Frenchy's is actually a chain, not a single store). We thought we might also make a quick stop at Value Village and perhaps Chapters, and then grab some groceries on the way home. After visiting the Frenchy's in Sackville, where I got a gorgeous velvet scarf for $1.50 and a couple of tops for work, we got back on the road and the conversation turned, as it often does when Deva and I are in the same place, to books. Somehow Wolfville (home of Acadia University) also came up, and I mentioned a bookstore I'd seen in the phone book that looked intriguing. Deva thought it might be a shop she remembered, and so we decided, what the hell, and drove out to Wolfville (in a car borrowed from Judy, Deva's mom).

Said bookstore, The Odd Book, turned out to be as wonderful as I'd hoped (though the "books about books" section was a bit of a disappointment). They had a lot of obscure old stuff for reasonable prices (plus a few things I though were priced a little on the high side). When we pried ourselves away from the books, we each had a substantial stack and had decided that semi-regular trips to book shop might be a good idea. Here's what I ended up with:
  • Edwin Mulhouse by Stephen Millhauser -- fiction by the fellow who wrote the short story that the movie The Illusionist was based on (fine movie, too)
  • Martin Dressler by Stephen Millhauser -- yeah, same guy; I've been devouring his short stories, and so decided to tackle his novels
  • The End of Faith by Sam Harris -- one to add to my atheist library; it was on my list of things to look for specifically
  • The Great Houdini by Williams and Epstein -- for my research on the history of magic that will eventually result in a novel
  • Tales of the Fairies and of the Ghost World by Jeremiah Curtin -- for the fairy library; I'm not sure if I used this one in my thesis--if not, I should have
  • On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin -- finally my own copy; I've been reading Darwin's Ghost by Steve Jones, which is sort of an updated version
  • Issues in Science and Religion by Ian G. Barbour
  • The Death of Adam: Evolution and its impact on Western thought by John C. Greene
So, lots of fabulous things to read.

And I have much more to write about, such as Sue's visit, my birthday (plus thanks to gift-givers), and my thoughts on the two new blogs listed to the left (Deva's and Ryan's, for which I am sort of responsible), and the change in appearance of this very blog.

Rare Typo

The class I've been taking for the past week and will be taking for two more weeks is called Rare Typographic Mixed Media Printing. I didn't really know what to expect from it except that we'd be using the wood type in the Dawson Printshop (anything to play with type, I thought, and the Dawson room is quickly become the home of my heart at NSCAD). Anyway, despite the intensity of the three week, four-days-a-week format, I'm having a blast. I've just finished up project one this weekend. We were put in groups of three to set up a galley of type (and despite my usual aversion to group projects, I had fun). Our project was then to each use the same galley to make our own individual prints. I've ended up with two editions of three prints made from various bits of paper assembled into a sort of collage (or something), plus an accordion book (also in an edition of three). I'll try to get some pics up, as these brief descriptions don't really say much.

Tomorrow I've got to do a mock up for part of our project two--a group project to somehow use type to express contrast in an installation that makes use of three-dimensional space. More on that when I see if my ideas will work.

So that, besides work at the VRC and online stuff at About PSP, is what I've been doing on a regular basis.