Thursday, December 6, 2018

Poseidonis II - A Progress Report from The Bindery

Clark Ashton Smith
Poseidonis Cycle II
The Age of Whelming

Hand set letterpress printed, handbound illustrated edition.
With an introduction from Donald Sidney-Fryer and illustrations by Justine Jones.
Available from Pegana Press 2018

The first one dozen books were bound in on Monday, December 3rd and will rest under weight for 5 weeks.  I had hoped to get them bound and sent out by Christmas, but it just was not to be.  Never the less, work is now proceeding smoothly on the second batch of books.  Yesterday, I sewed the signatures and I spent today folding the endpapers and tipping them in.

I’d like to share a peek behind the scenes...One of the things I discovered when I was first binding Poseidonis Cycle I, was how fragile the end papers were for that book.  Mike had chosen a handmade paper from Nepal made of papyrus with gold streaks in it.  The first book I bound with it turned out fine (beginners luck, I guess), so I proceeded to bind the first batch of books, only to discover that the binder board was showing through where there was gold.  Why it didn’t happen on the first book, I have no idea.  The solution, was to simply line the back of the endpaper that attaches to the binder board with an extra piece of paper which solved the whole problem.

Since we’re using the same endpapers for Poseidonis Cycle II, I spent the afternoon lining them.  It’s an extra step in the process, but well worth it, to achieve the affect of decadent antiquity, we were going for with that paper.

Check back for further updates.

Rita Tortorello
The Bindery at Pegana Press

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Of Ink and Thread

The days grow shorter and colder here while the work of the press and bindery goes on.  I'm well into the printing of a new Lovecraft edition using an antique laid paper that looks great.  The story I'm working on is fairly obscure, being one of Lovecraft's earlier writings.  Rita has been sewing the signatures and tipping on the endpapers from Nepal for The Age of Whelming edition by Clark Ashton Smith, releasing soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Poseidonis Update

Clark Ashton Smith: Poseidonis Cycle-The Age of Whelming.  Illustration by Justine Jones.  Pegana Press 2018.

Mike is finished setting and printing Poseidonis Cycle The Age of Whelming.  He is currently setting type for the book titles for the cover.
Justine Jones has provided us with two fantastic illustrations.  Once we get the final versions of the illustrations, they will be sent to be digitally printed in town.
Rita will begin cutting the book boards by hand starting next week, Mike will begin the process of folding and collating the book pages, and the binding process will begin when the illustrations come back from the digital print shop.
To reserve your copy at the special preorder price visit PeganaPress online.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Work of Autumn

As our days grow shorter, darker, and wetter, we are busy with books and more books.  Rita has been binding copies of Lost Tales 4 by Lord Dunsany, Dark Dreamlands by H.P. Lovecraft, and The Golden Key by George MacDonald.  Her goal is to have all of our books available for the holidays so people (or significant others) can help with present giving.

Rita is also currently cutting boards for The Age of Whelming by Clark Ashton Smith as I near completion of the printing.  Printing should be done in a couple of weeks.  Justine Jones is working on the illustrations for the edition and we will post photos as we get them; we can't wait to see what she comes up with for these evocative stories of the end of Poseidonis.  The special pre-order price will be ending soon for the edition and we are happy to arrange payment plans on any book for anyone interested.

Our backs are sore at the end of the day and the cats sleep while we work...
We hope you are all well and spending time in your libraries.

Cheerio for now

Mike and Rita
Pegana Press

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Men of Baldfolk...More Lost Tales

The Men of Baldfolk and Other Fanciful Tales is another edition of lost tales from the imagination of Lord Dunsany.  The content included in this book offers a range of styles from the humorous and whimsical to the dark and brooding to the thought provoking observations of a master story teller.

Visions of wonder and splendor await you in this volume.  From the archives at Dunsany Castle, these stories were shared by the curator, the majority of which were previously unpublished.  Also included in this volume are two very early essays hunted down by Mike and retrieved from The Saturday Review magazine.

Although the material presented in this book is of the Lost Tales, the book design was a departure from our usual Lost Tales volumes.  This book did not appear in chapbook format, and was letterpress printed on  paper of a green tint.  And we include a color Sime illustration, courtesy of Dunsany Castle, as frontispiece.

The signatures were sewn with green linen thread and the book was quarterbound at Ars Obscura in Seattle using paper and silk on boards.

The binding reminds us of an unpublished story which appears in this book titled The Book of Flowery Tales, which would have been at home in A Dreamer’s Tales.

This book is currently being offered at a special price through the end of July in celebration of our 9 year anniversary with Pegana Press.  You may find it on our website

Friday, July 13, 2018

Designing Paris

Paris, A Poem by Hope Mirrlees was the first book printed at Pegana Press. and it was released in 2010, well before I became involved as the binder and general dogsbody for the press.  I wanted to find out more about those early days back when Mike was still working a day job and setting type in the middle of the night, and to hear what went into the making of Paris.

The following post is a discussion between Mike and Rita and is presented as an interview...

Let's talk a little bit about this first book project.  Why did you choose this particular work?

I was intrigued by the fact that Lud-in-the Mist, considered to be a classic work, appeared to be the only fantasy written by Hope Mirrlees, I started looking around to see if she'd written anything similar that I could print and found Erin Kissane's website, Hope Mirrlees on the Web, where she talked extensively about "Paris".

The poem itself was a travelogue of the city within a 24 hour period from sun up to sun up.  It is layered with double meanings and puzzles intentionally written into it, reinforced visually by the typography. The poem touches on the history and nuances of Paris, current politics and religion, and the exotic life of the City of Light. Capturing its essence captivated me as well.

"Paris" had become a forgotten work and hadn't been reprinted in its original form since 1919,  so I felt that it was a worthy work to print and share with the world. The work itself is so complex and beautiful in its use of language to describe the city of Paris in a slice of Time. "Paris" was also the the first to absorb and reflect French Modernism literature and had a profound influence on  poets like T.S Eliot and Ezra Pound, shaping Western Modernist literature as we know it. So it also had an historical relevance that I felt should be captured on paper.

Why didn't Paris remain in print?

Paris became an inspiration to modernist poetry, but through her own preference she chose to suppress it.  Michael Swanwick covers her personal life and her motives in his book Hope-In-The-Mist The Extraordinary Career and Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees available from Temporary Culture 2009.

Can you say a little about the printing process?

I copied the typography exactly, working from a scan of the original I found on Erin's website. This book is so rare, that it's difficult to find a copy anywhere, unless you know which collection it resides in.  There were also detailed instructions written by Hope for the typesetting of this book.  She really had a vision of what she wanted to convey through the typography.

I know you always put a lot of thought into choosing elements like paper, type, and ink...

I tried to match the original typeface from the scan.  I matched it as closely as possible and cataloged what I would need.  Italics, bold, different sizes and French diacritics.  I spent a lot of time finding the right font to reproduce it as close to the original as possible because of the historical importance of the typography.  Hope and Virginia Woolf spent a long time working on the typography and I tried to replicate that knowing how important it was to be visually laid out correctly to Hope's specifications.

I wanted to use a French paper and chose an art paper because it's an art poem.  The paper I chose is normally used for watercolor painting, but I chose the paper by how it felt.  It was a "feel" thing with the paper.

The ink I used is blue because the flag for the city of Paris is predominantly Blue and Red, and the blue seemed appropriate.
I want to ask you about the design you chose for this book.  Although you replicated the original typography, you weren't going for an exact copy of the original put out by Virginia and Leonard Woolf at the Hogarth Press.  The exterior of this book is different from the original and you also chose to add a section in the back of the book with images.  Can you talk about that?

The text is very visual.  The typography is a visual of what she was writing about.  She even made notes of how the signs looked to her and then had it set that way at Hogarth.  It was like a word version of a vacation travelogue.  I had a vision of an old travel journal.  Blue is one of the two dominant colors in the Paris flag, so I chose to continue with the blue as the cover.

Hope's notes make it a scholarly book and the images seemed to support that.  I included the notes and some images from Paris in that era to continue the travelogue feel.  I had Owosso Graphics make laser etched magnesium plates for each image and then they were letterpress printed using the same blue ink I used for the text.

Recently someone on Instagram tagged our Paris as cyanotype, because of the blue images.  That's a different process, but they do kind of resemble that look.

I imagine between the attention to replicating the type, and setting it meticulously by hand, this book took longer than most to print.  Can you remember how long it took you to print the whole thing?

I think it took me about a year and a half to finish.  I really came to appreciate this work through the process of setting the type for it.

If you would like to learn more about Paris A Poem by Hope Mirrlees from Pegana Press please visit our website 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Pegana Press - Since 2009

This month, we celebrate 9 years in business.  It was in July of 2009 that Mike acquired the Vandercook sp15 and Pegana Press came into being.

Since then Mike has printed 13 books and 3 broadsides.  Book number 14 is currently in the works.

To celebrate our 9th anniversary, we are offering A discount on selected books.

Paris, A Poem by Hope Mirrlees was the first book printed and released at Pegana Press.

The Men of Baldfolk by Lord Dunsany

Zothique Prism 1 and 2 by Clark Ashton Smith

These books are specially priced at 20% off the regular price through the month of July.  You can find them on our website.