Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Open Studio

We’re having our first party!
All Lettre Sauvage print work will be on display. There will be demonstrations of our equipment and the opportunity to print greeting cards.

Entertainment includes Opal Gann’s electronic tonalities, Sophia Kidd’s performance art and possibly some film screenings.

Jean Benoit, wine maker at Casa Baranca, will host the vin.

All are welcome. Please stop by and power our machines with your regards.

Aldus Manutius

We recently attended the annual conference of the American Printing History Association (APHA) held at UCLA and the Getty Research Institute. It was invigorating to get out of our workshop and stuff our brains with printing history and exquisite exhibitions from the work of Aldus Manutius, his press, followers and modern imitators.

The scholars in attendance framed a fascinating and brief period in which books changed from handwritten manuscripts to works printed with metal type in fonts very like the ones we continue to use today. We learned that those first printed books before 1501 are referred to as incunabulum- a most fascinating word and work.

These forays into book history are like spiritual pilgrimages. Aldus was responsible for the inspired work of creating books for the hands, allowing for comfortable, solitary reading (Can we say "Praise be to Aldus"). The speed and ease of reading was enhanced by his italic type faces. He also saved many classical texts through his careful work with translators and his super-human publishing speed.

APHA has a newly revived Southern California chapter. Membership in this association has been enriching for our creative work all year. The salons that meet at studios and homes and wonderful. Membership is open to all and includes a thick, handsome journal of papers and reviews.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Recently I had the pleasure of printing broadsides for David Ray and Jason Diller of the famous Bart's Books of Ojai. Just in from Taiwan, Sophia Kidd was there to help me out and take gorgeous photos. The bright orange ink on Diller's linoleum cut (above) is shrouded in dramatic shadows. The cut is of the combined alchemical symbols for lead and gold.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Midwife of Fallujah

This is a broadside by Weam Namou, a poet that is part of the Mutanabbi Street Coalition. Mutanabbi Street is a historic bookselling district in Baghdad that was bombed in March 2007. It will be part of an exhibition of broadsides celebrating the literary and intellectual community of Mutanabbi Street from October 19-November 21 at the San Francisco Center for the Book, in collaboration with the University of California Press. The opening is from 6-8 pm on October 19th.

For printing, we used Crane's paper and paint thinner dropped onto a linoleum block. Each broadside was individually inked and then run through the Vandercook. It actually took us a long time to develop a design that seemed fitting for the poem, so the resulting print run was very small, and most of that went to the poet.

The Midwife of Fallujah
by Weam Namou

Everyone knew Amti Hassina, a Christian,
who lived alone in Fallujah,
after her husband went missing in some war,
and left her to raise a little boy.
The midwife and nurse of the city of mosques and history,
which was inhabited for many millennia,
most recently those of Sunni ancestry,
Amti Hassina was called upon by all.
Repaid with money, live chickens, fresh eggs, dried dates and figs,
she lived like a queen, although there, she wasn’t linked by lineage.
I never met Amti Hassina’s patients in real life, nor in pictures.
But last night I think I did, and they cut apart my heart.
These images might be graphic, warned the Internet.
Still, I clicked the mouse on each seventy-two of them.
I couldn’t eat my club pita sandwich afterwards,
But I had to view, or else it meant no recognition for the tormented.
I thanked Allah Aunt Hassina wasn’t around
to see Fallujah an empty ground,
to weep over men and women she might’ve once treated, or given birth to,
lying in their beds, swimming in their blood,
faces blown off, hair and skin scalded, bodies partially eaten by dogs, birds and