Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Journey Through Paris

Paris  A Poem  by Hope Mirrlees.
Paris  A Poem   by Hope Mirrlees/Pegana Press 2010

This was the very first book published at Pegana Press.

Mike had just acquired the Vandercook SP 15 press, and had printed a poem as broadside by Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett (later known as Lord Dunsany).  The poem titled Rhymes From A Suburb, first appeared in Pall Mall Magazine in 1897.

But the goal of Pegana Press was to create books for collectors.  The kind of book that Mike as a collector and lover of books, would want to have in his own library.

One such book in Mike's collection is Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrlees.  I remember the first time I read it on Mike's recommendation.  I was entranced.

In researching Hope Mirrlees, Mike ran across a scan of the original version of Paris A Poem.  Here was a work with an interesting history.  What's more, The original typography of Paris had never been duplicated before, which is an important part of the poem.  Those copies of Paris were printed by Virginia and Leonard Woolf at the Hogarth Press.  A search for a Hogarth copy yielded no results, when Mike first undertook printing the poem, although later he found one copy on line for sale.  They wanted $12,000.  A rare book indeed.

Mike contacted the estate and was given permission to print Paris.  Because Mike was still working a day job, he worked on the poem at night and on his days off.  Hope Mirrlees used the layout of typography to enhance the poem as she takes us on a journey through Paris in 1919.  Mike worked diligently to recreate that design, so as to be as true to the author's vision as possible.

This book is quite striking.  Printed in blue ink on white french paper.  Bound in Seattle at Ars Obscura by master binder Joel Radcliffe.  Paris is currently on sale through the end of October at Pegana Press Books.  If you've been curious about Paris, don't miss your opportunity to own a copy of this important and beautiful work of modernist poetry.

"Mirrlees was a genius and it showed in Lud-In-The-Mist and in everything she wrote.  Reading Paris is like solving a Chinese puzzle."  --Mike Tortorello

To get a real feel for this book, please listen to our audio introduction.  Our recommendation is that you listen with head phones or good speakers so as to fully experience the journey.

Paris A Poem at Pegana Press Books

Friday, October 23, 2015

Binding The Golden Key pt 6

The Golden Key/Pegana Press 2015
As you can see, no two books are exactly alike.  Each front title and spine title are cut by hand individually.

This photo shows the front title being trimmed down from its parent sheet.

The second photo shows the spine title being trimmed down.  Requiring only a ruler and cutting tools, the most important thing is to have a good eye and a steady hand.

The Golden Key/Pegana Press 2015
The next step will be to attach the titles to each book.  After drying, the book is finished and ready to be read.

You can view the finished book on the George MacDonald tab of Pegana Press.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Tis The Season

News from the press is that Mike is going through our inventory of card stock.  Every year around this time, we put on festive holiday music and spend the afternoon printing letterpress holiday cards.  We really should do it in July I suppose, but somehow we're never in the mood to do it during the summer months and Mike is usually trying to beat a self imposed deadline to finish a current book for an Autumn release.

Happy Holidays letterpress card
Pegana Press
So now it's that time of year again.  Our most popular card is Happy Holidays, and we have printed two editions of this card and are getting ready to print another batch.

Mike's favorite part of making the holiday cards is designing and typesetting a unique letterpress card, which becomes an expression of art.

Of the seven card designs we've offered over the years, 3 of them were created by setting each letter and ornament with the spacing to create an image suggestive of a tree or ornament and 3 of them were created with borders.

Merry Christmas Tree letterpress card from Pegana Press
It's the only time we work together in with the press because Mike hands me the card fresh off the press while the ink is still wet, and I apply a little sparkle.

After the cards dry, they are scored and folded and ready to be sent out.

This week we will be making another batch of holiday cards.  I'll be the one covered  in glitter.

We invite you to view our Holiday Card Collection on our website.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Binding The Golden Key pt 5

Today I finished binding 10 copies of The Golden Key.  They are resting under weight tonight, and will continue to for up to two weeks.

We're using Bertini paper from Italia for the end papers, and I'm still getting used to it, even though I've  worked with it a bit when binding the dummy copies.  The Lama Li Lakta paper from Nepal (used for the Lost Tales books) is very forgiving, almost like cloth.  This Bertini is stiffer paper and less forgiving, although very sturdy.

It looks wonderful in the book, but it's a different entity entirely to work with.

The Golden Key/Pegana Press Bindery

This photo was taken after the book had been under weight for 2 hours.  I was happy to see that the paper was drying beautifully.

There is still one step to go, attaching the titles, but that won't be for at least a week.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this peek into the binding process.  I wanted to share about our process because I was reading recently about other presses that market their books as being hand bound.  I found myself wondering how they can offer their books so cheaply and make hundreds of copies.  Then I found out that those books are made using machines.  What we're doing at Pegana Press is really pretty unique in today's world.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Binding The Golden Key pt 4

I decided to take a quick break from binding to post some photos of one of the cases I'm working on this afternoon.  First I glue the fabric to the boards and add the spine treatment.  Then I set the joint next to the spine...

The Golden Key/Pegana Press Bindery

and wrap the case around the book block.

The Golden Key/Pegana Press Bindery

Here's the finished case looking very pretty.

The Golden Key/Pegana Press Bindery

The case binding with it's book sits under weight over night to give the binding a nice shape.  Tomorrow I'll begin gluing the books into their bindings.

Back to work now.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Binding The Golden Key pt 3

It's Sunday the 11th, and I want post a reminder to anyone who still wants to order their copy of The Golden Key at the preorder price, that today is the last day to do that.

Before I go back to the bindery, I wanted to post some more photos of the binding process for this project, so you can see all the love that goes into your copy of this book.

Here are the spine reinforcements which always take so much time.  Early on, I tried to do this on a paper guillotine, but the pieces would shift, and cut unevenly, so I have had to cut each one by hand.

When I first started doing this, I would only get one usable one for every two I cut.  I've had a lot of practice since then.  ;)

The Golden Key/Pegana Press Bindery

Here is the yellow book cloth, just cut into sections across the grain from a roll of dubletta cloth.  I will be able to bind three books from each of these sections.

The Golden Key/Pegana Press Bindery

The next step is to make the case bindings.  With cloth and binder's board and glue.  This is the fun part of binding for me.  Taking all the hand prepared materials and making something that begins to resemble the finished book.

The Golden Key/Pegana Press Bindery

I will wrap each finished case around its book block, set the joint, where the book opens, and then allow it to rest under weight overnight, before binding the book in on the following day.

Well now, it's back to the bindery.  More later.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Binding The Golden Key pt 2

Yesterday I finished up the day by attaching mull and headbands to the book.  I let them dry over night.  I was really pleased with the result when I looked through them this morning.  The headbands I chose are golden.

The next step involves making the cases for the binding.  During the design process, I bound a dummy and glued the front title to the cover.  This worked really well for The Age Of Malygris/Clark Ashton Smith/Pegana Press 2014, because that title was on a really thin paper.  The paper we're using for the title of The Golden Key is much thicker and I could see that it would be subject to wear unless it was inset into the cover.

That means before making the cases, I need to make the insets into the boards used for the front cover.  This is done by hand, as crazy as that sounds.  But I've had a lot of practice with the Lost Tales books.

The inset of this book is quite large, because it has to accommodate the illustration on the front title.  I made two more dummy bindings with the insets to make sure the design would work.

Besides getting the boards ready, I need to cut the book cloth to the right size.  I've always used a cotton dubletta cloth on all our books, so I've continued with dubletta and for this edition we've chosen yellow to fit in with the title.

Another important step is to create the spine reinforcements which create a flat spine for our letterpress spine titles.  This was decided upon when we made our first case bound book for the Lost Tales series.  Having books in our collection with traditional spines, has taught us a valuable lesson about how paper titles glued to a spine can chip and crumble with handling over time.  The books with spine reinforcements create a flat spine, and those seem to cause less wear to a paper title.

Therefore, each spine reinforcement also has to be cut by hand.  This is one of the hardest jobs to get precise, but I feel that this extra step is worth the work and time to ensure that the paper titles stand up to handling over time.  This photo shows the case binding with a (white) paper liner to help reinforce the book and a spine reinforcement in place.  This is what the finished case looks like, all ready to glue a book into.

I'm planning on making the cases on Saturday.  More later.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Binding The Golden Key

At Pegana Press we make all of our books by hand from start to finish.  

I'd like to share the binding process here with you, and I'll be taking photos as I bind The Golden Key.

After Mike trims and collates the pages, he hands them off to me in the form of signatures.  This is a beautiful book to work on and I'm really enjoying it.

I start by piercing the holes for sewing into each signature.  They have to line up, so the book will be even.  I use a template and a stabbing cradle and pierce each one by hand.

The next step is the sewing.  For The Golden Key, I used linen thread and linen sewing tapes.  I am binding in batches of 12 to 14 until I catch up with the preorders, so I sewed a stack of books before moving on to the next step.

Today I tipped in the end papers, which were cut and folded by hand.  I have to wait for the end papers to dry before moving on the next step, gluing the spines.  Once that glue has dried, I round the spines.  This afternoon, I will add mull and head bands.

Tomorrow, I will be cutting cloth and spine reinforcements.  The reinforcements create a flat spine for our letterpress titles to be glued to. 

Back to the bindery.  More later.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Golden Key Turns the Lock

Greetings.  This is just a quick update on the status of our latest release from Pegana Press.  We're very happy to announce that after nearly a year, The Golden Key is entirely finished and is now, in the process of being bound.

My decision to devote an immense amount of energy and labor to print The Golden Key stems from being a book lover and collector.  I've always chosen works that I would want to have in my own library  Beautiful editions that support and enhance the wonder of the story that you can hold and caress.  I felt that The Golden Key needed such an edition.

We are very fortunate to have Charles van Sandwyk's illustrations for this book.  Charles is one of the truly great illustrators of our time.  His style is perfect for what I had in mind for this edition, being reminiscent of Arthur Rackham's magical images.  He has provided us with three pen and ink illustrations as well as a beautiful hand signed watercolour for the fronticepiece.  It is a wonder to see it facing the title page which is printed on rose colored paper.

Each signature of the book is letterpress printed on a different color paper.  The page colors are pale rose blush, custard yellow, soft sagey-green, and a sky blue reminiscent of twilight.  The pages are displayed to their best advantage in the soft glow of library lamps, which was an unexpected and happy result, and which exceeded my vision for this edition.

We feel in every way, that this book will be our most beautiful release to date, and that it will be a book to treasure and pass down, which must be seen and handled in person to be fully appreciated.  I've come to realize that the photos posted on our site aren't able to convey the full beauty of this book and that it really comes to life when it is held, and read, and savored.

Never the less, please visit Pegana Press online, to see for yourself the recent addition of the frontispiece.

We wish you many years of happy reading, surrounded by beautiful books.
From Mike & Rita at Pegana Press