30 October 2010

Letterpress at the Homestead

While I generally have done most of my printing at the Dawson Printshop in Halifax, I've also been slowly working towards setting myself up to print here at home. My studio space isn't huge, and I have to do downstairs to get water (the tap in the photo below is currently non-functional), and since it's on the second floor, I can't have anything too heavy. Eventually I hope to build an outbuilding of some sort with a concrete floor and then acquire a bigger press.

What I do have in here is a small proof press--the bed is cast aluminum, I think--that I was given by a friend. My first experiment of the day was to attempt to print a random assortment of mostly wood type (given to me by B's dad in Pennsylvania). It was a not-entirely-successful attempt, and though I ended up with some usable sheets of printed paper, they weren't quite what I was aiming for, and I can tell I'm going to be doing considerable trial and error with makeready to make this press work as well as I'd like.

The problems I was having are, I think, a combination of issues with the press itself (primarily the cylinder and the fact that I can only lock up type on one direction, which is not the direction of travel of the cylinder, so the pressure of printing works the type loose) and issues with the type (being old type, it's all different heights, and being a random assortment, it's extremely difficult to get it to lock up tightly). Still, it was a worthwhile experiment, and I am not giving up.

I also have a little 5x8" platen Kelsey parlour press. I've had it for a while and puttered about at getting it running (all it really needed was rust removal and lubrication). I finally got serious a month or two ago, and today got the packing in and some gauge pins on. I still need to adjust the platen some more, but I printed up a whole pile of little holiday candle images which will be cut and folded into gift tags. I might ink up in red tomorrow and do some more. I also have a Santa and some holly I'm going to combine with "to" and "from" in type and try printing those.

19 October 2010

Miscellaneous Things

My brain seems to be scattered all over the place lately. I'm about to head in to Halifax to teach my last wood type letterpress class for the semester, and I'm waiting to deliver two print jobs and get paid for another one. And I've had one binding job almost certainly canceled and one probably going ahead but I don't know quite when yet. And I have a craft show in early December to prepare for, holiday cards to finish, supplies to order and shops to visit for potential wholesale orders.

And if that's not enough, I'm still working on some copper jewellery, some ATCs, some ilustrations and various and sundry other things. Oh yes, if ever I have free time, I very soon fill it up with things to do.

Other things going on: a truck in need of repair before it's driveable and a letterpress workshop I'll do if the truck is fixed in time. An anime website/blog I started and am waiting to move to its permanent domain before promoting. Collapsing offshoot blogs back into this main blog because I have too many things on the go. I promise I'll write something that makes a bit more sense next post. In the meantime, here are the latest ATCs I did, with manga/anime as the theme (and yes, that's yet another version of my foxgirl).

Tsukiko has a Fox Mask

Yuki Makes Foxfire

Dragon Hurricane Oolong


I tried colouring with markers again, which was harder than expected at such a small size. Plus I'm not that practiced with markers. So I'm not entirely happy with the results. But the sketches were originally much larger than ATC size, so I plan to ink and scan them, and then colour digitally (well, except for Tsukiko, which I've already done).

06 October 2010

[BFG] Recent Reading: And 2 Makes 50

One more book I forgot to put on last post's list, plus one I just finished.
  1. The Encyclopedia of Jewelry-Making Techniques by Jinks McGrath (non-fiction) buy from amazon
    The Encyclopedia of Jewelry-Making Techniques: A Comprehensive Visual Guide to Traditional and Contemporary Techniques
    I got this one from the library partly because I just like to learn new things, but also because I had a new project in mind (yeah, like I need *another* new project). You can see a sneak peek over on Anagram for Ink. The book isn't really in-depth, but it has really good basic introductions without getting into too much detail (which is the problem I'm having with the other jewelery book I signed out), and the pictures are nice (and colour!). I may look for a copy, or something similar, to add to my own library.
  2. The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas by Fuyumi Ono (fiction) buy from amazon
    Twelve Kingdoms - Paperback Edition Volume 3: The Vast Spread of the Seas (Twelve Kingdoms (Quality))
    This third book in the series starts off much more slowly than the other two, and it's rather more confusing at the beginning (partly because it uses a lot of substantial flashbacks, which I wasn't expecting after having just read books one and two). Still, once the various details began to come together, it became a wothwhile segment of the larger story.

So, now that I've reached 50 books with a few months left to go in the year, should I just keep going and see how far I get, or should I try for 50 fiction and non, plus 50 graphic novels? Or go on a reading frenzy and try 50 fiction, 50 non-fiction and 50 GNs? (I did that last one the very first year I tried the 50 Books thing, but I had a lot more time to read that year.)

Just out of curiosity, I think I'll list each category below and see how far away from 50 I am in each one . . .

  1. Zeppelins West by Joe R. Lansdale
  2. Hannah's Garden by Midori Snyder
  3. The Blue Girl by Charles deLint
  4. Swim the Moon by Paul Brandon
  5. Widdershins by Charles deLint
  6. The Rosetta Key by William Dietrich
  7. The Swiss Family Robinson by Jean Rudolph Wyss
  8. Fitcher's Brides by Gregory Frost
  9. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  10. The Barnum Museum by Steven Millhauser
  11. Good Blood by Aaron Elkins
  12. Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi
  13. Once by James Herbert
  14. White Cat by Holly Black
  15. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  16. The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot: His Wonderful Love and His Terrible Hatred by Carl-Johan Vallgren
  17. The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono
  18. The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind by Fuyumi Ono
  19. The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas by Fuyumi Ono

  1. Crossing Over: Where Art and Science Meet by Stephen Jay Gould and Rosamond Wolff Purcell
  2. The Complete Guide to Prints and Printmaking ed. John Dawson
  3. Mangaka America ed. Steelriver Studio
  4. Video Game Art by Nic Kelman
  5. The Boilerplate Rhino by David Quammen
  6. Animal Skulls: A Guide to North American Species by Mark Elbroch
  7. The Decorative Illustration of Books by Walter Crane
  8. How to Spot a Fox by J. David Henry
  9. Anime Explosion by Patrick Drazen
  10. The Nature of Coyotes: Voice of the Wilderness by Wayne Grady
  11. The Encyclopedia of Jewelry-Making Techniques by Jinks McGrath

Graphic Novels
  1. Mouse Guard by David Petersen
  2. The Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
  3. Samurai Crusader: Sunrise over Shanghai story by Hiroi Oji, art by Ryoichi Ikegami
  4. Spice and Wolf Volume 1 by Isuna Hasekura, art by Keito Koume
  5. Shaman Warrior Volume 4 by Park Joong-ki
  6. Bone: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith
  7. American, Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  8. xxxHolic Volume 9 by CLAMP
  9. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Volume 9 by CLAMP
  10. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Volume 10 by CLAMP
  11. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Volume 11 by CLAMP
  12. The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
  13. Foiled by Jane Yolen, art by Mike Cavallaro
  14. Shutterbug Follies by Jason Little
  15. Hellboy Animated: The Menagerie by various folks, based on Mike Mignola's character
  16. Slow Storm by Danica Novgorodoff
  17. Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
  18. Lindbergh Child: America's Hero and the Crime of the Century by Rick Geary
  19. Spice and Wolf Volume 2 by Isuna Hasekura, art by Keito Koume
  20. Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi 

OK, it seems a little unlikely that I can get to 50 of each, especially non-fiction, but you never know.

04 October 2010

Sneak Peek

A little something I've been thinking about for a while and finally got some time to work on this weekend: copper jewellery made from recycled intaglio printing plates. These will appear in one of my online shops later in the week when I've had time to take better photographs.

For the first few, I simply cut out shapes and let the original etching from the business side of the plate serve as decoration. Alas, not all my old plates are going to be as nice, so in future I'll use intaglio platemaking processes to make new designs. I also plan to experiment with patinas. But I think I made a good start, and ended the weekend with four finished pendants, and one that needs soldering (because I didn't want the hanging apparatus to be visible from the front).

03 October 2010

[BFG] Recent Reading: Lots of Comics, Some Novels, One Non-Fiction

Since I seem to be neglecting this blog, and the idea of keeping my geekiness separate from the rest of my life is less appealing these days, I'm thinking that I'll probably merge BFG back in with Anagram for Ink sooner or later. Especially since AforI has an awful lot of geek posts in its early years. But anyway . . . On to the books.

I've been working my way slowing through the Truro Public Library's collection of comics a few volumes every three weeks or so. A pile of them are in this update (though not every GN in this list is a library book; a few I paid money for). I've also begun reading Japanese novels in translation quite voraciously. I wrote about Vampire Hunter D and its awfulness previously--I'm happy to say the "light novels" in this post are far better.
  1. The Nature of Coyotes: Voice of the Wilderness by Wayne Grady (non-fiction)

    We have coyotes in this area, so I thought I'd find out more about them than their osteology. I don't know what the current consensus is, but according to this book coyotes are more ancient than wolves, and wolves evolved from coyotes. Also the two sometimes hybridize. The other thing I learned is that coyote populations tend to increase when they are aggressively hunted because under normal circumstances only alpha pairs reproduce, but when they are under pressure, lower-ranked females will also have litters.

  2. The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    The Eternal Smile: Three Stories
    Three lovely short stories from this duo who also makes comics solo. The title story had a somewhat unexpected, but satisfying ending.

  3. Foiled by Jane Yolen, art by Mike Cavallaro (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    Not the most original idea for a story, but Jane Yolen can take the most overdone story and make it shine, as she does here. This would make a good pick for "middle grade" readers. (Is it me, or did middle grade used to be included in the assumed audience for "young adult" fiction? Is it really helpful to divide up audiences in to smaller and smaller marketing categories?)

  4. Shutterbug Follies by Jason Little (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    Shutterbug Follies: Graphic Novel (Doubleday Graphic Novels)
    There really wasn't anything new or startling here, story-wise, but Little's art is so nice to look at--deceptively simple-looking--that it works anyway. Not that it's a bad story, it's perfectly serviceable, but it's the drawing that's the reason to pick this one up.

  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (fiction) buy from amazon
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
    I've had this book on my shelf for ages, and only just got around to reading it, and when I did, I devoured it. Sometimes it's like that with books, You just have to wait for the right moment.

  6. The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot: His Wonderful Love and His Terrible Hatred by Carl-Johan Vallgren (fiction) buy from amazon
    The Horrific Sufferings of the Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot, his Wonderful Love and Terrible Hatred
    This is one from my pile of things started and not finished, and now finished. I read almost half of it before getting distracted by other books, and read the rest a few chapters here and a few there. It's good, and well worth reading, it just didn't grab me by the throat. Sometimes it's like that with books. (It took me *years* to get through Foucault's Pendulum and I was so glad I finished it.)

  7. Hellboy Animated: The Menagerie by various folks, based on Mike Mignola's character (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    Hellboy Animated Volume 3: The Menagerie (v. 3)
    I adore Hellboy. Love the original comics (though I must admit, I haven't read very many of them yet), and love the movies. Hellboy Animated is a lighter series, with a stylish animated look. There were two animated movies (straight to DVD, but I think still worth watching), and three comics (as far as I know). This one is the third. It's not nearly as dark or as serious as the main comics, and it's pretty darn short, but it's still a fun read. The main story features an odd mix of Asian and European folklore, and the backup story is all about Abe (I heart Abe Sapien).

  8. Slow Storm by Danica Novgorodoff (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    Slow Storm
    This book is kind of hard to describe. It's about a woman firefighter in rural Kentucky and an illegal immigrant from Mexico, and it's about the great things and the awful things that people do. The loose ink and watercolour drawings are especially effective at depicting the looming feeling of the world just before a storm.

  9. Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
    It's been years since I read Persepolis the first, but it felt like just the other day as I picked this one up and got right back into the story. It's simple bio comic about a woman growing up in Iran told with simple black and white pictures, but it adds up to some incredible richness. This is the kind of book you give people who don't read comics to show them that comics *are* worth reading.

  10. Lindbergh Child: America's Hero and the Crime of the Century by Rick Geary (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    A Treasury of XXth Century Murder: The Lindbergh Child (Treasury of Victorian Murder (Graphic Novels))
    I got this one from the library just because it was there, not because I thought it would be good. I expected either some dry educational book, or an overwrought dramatization. I especially had low expectations because the book has a whole list of other books in the series, all retelling crimes and murders. But this book is neither dry nor overwrought. It's a simple telling of the known facts with clean drawings and diagrams, and it somehow ends up being a thoroughly gripping tale. I don't know how Geary pulled it off, but I will definitely be looking for more of those books listed in the front.

  11. Spice and Wolf Volume 2 by Isuna Hasekura, art by Keito Koume (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    Spice and Wolf, Vol. 2 (manga) (Spice and Wolf (manga))
    I got all the way through this book and still didn't know why it had a warning for explicit content on it. There's some very tame partial nudity and one small, blurry aftermath of a rape image, but nothing really graphic. At one point the two main characters are in a suggestive position in bed together, but they're fully clothed. So I don't know. It continues to be a fun read, and somehow the bits of economic theory even work and never feel boring. But I have to admit, I read it mostly for the pretty wolf goddess.

  12. The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono (fiction) buy from amazon
    The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 1: Sea of Shadow
    This is the first of seven in a series of light novels. (I've been trying to think of the Western equivalent for the Japanese light novel and I haven't quite managed it. In many ways, it fits the same niche as young adult fiction in the West, though that's not an exact fit.) So far, Tokyopop has brought out four of them in English, and I hope they bring out the other three. I had to go through considerable effort to get this one, as it's out of print and apparently collectible and so selling for outrageous prices. I finally found a reasonably priced copy at a bookseller in the UK, purchased via the bibliophile's fried, ABE. I bought it because I like the anime based on it, but I didn't know if it was any good. Turns out it's very good indeed.

  13. The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind by Fuyumi Ono (fiction) buy from amazon
    The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind
    This one is book two in the series, though it takes place before the events in book one. (If you read them, do try to read book one first, though--I think the series works better narratively that way.) When I saw the stupid prices book one was going for, I jumped on Amazon.ca and grabbed two, three and four while I had the chance to get them for retail price. And happily, one that was listed as a paperback turned out the be a hardcover when it got here. Alas, Amazon's crappy packaging came unstuck and it was only luck and a flimsy rubber band that kept all three books in there. Oh, and this volume I sat down to read one evening and ended up reading straight through in one sitting.

  14. Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (comics/graphic novel) buy from amazon
    The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1)
    I picked this up on a whim because I thought the art looked nice and it had a blurb from Jeff Smith on the back, guaranteeing I'd be hooked in three pages. Mr Smith was right, though it may have been less than three pages. At first I thought the characters looked too cartoony next to the lush backgrounds, but I very quickly changed my mind. The art just works, and the story is delightful. If you've read Spiderwick, the beginning (after the prologue) may feel awfully familiar, and the story is really good, like Spiderwick. But it's nothing like the same story once the kids make their discovery in the old family home they've just moved into. I'm going to get Book Two at the earliest opportunity.
And look at that, I'm almost to 50 books. When I hit 50, I guess I'll see if I can do 50 this year, not counting graphic novels.