I had the pleasure of designing and hand-printing a bilingual poetry broadside for Randall Styers.
As a very generous gift, Randall commissioned me to create this piece for Elizabeth Castelli, a good friend of his up in New York. The 1721 poem was from “Muzio Scevola,” and written for an Italian aria by Giovanni Bononcini and Paolo Antonio Rolli. It is always a treat to get one of these projects, where the goal is to make the artifact as beautiful as possible and it is not a rush so we can get every detail just right, and really show off the tactile qualities of nice paper and letterpress printing. (one thing the whole digital revolution will never be able to “touch”).
Randall really only wanted one copy to frame but I explained we should at least do a few dozen copies as set up is as much work as cranking the handle a few times.
I set the Italian in the swash cap italic version of Jenson and these lines were printed in a warm red (about halfway between pure red and burgundy), and the English translation was printed in the roman version of Jenson, and printed in a warm gold.
The titling, set in Bodoni all caps, was given a nice deep impression into the fibers of the paper. I was able to give it a double hit of ink and still have it register perfectly for a nice, solid, and opaque-as-hell rich black.
Then the colophon-like contextual info was printed in a warm very soft grey. Subtle with a capital B it sits in the background to let the reading of the poem be the main focus, but at the same time it is very clear and easy to read when you are ready for that information.
The following pictures give a hint at the result. (thanks Randall for making time to show me the framed copy!). The last image is a version of the design digitally so you can see the composition cleanly. Someday we’ll have a better camera in the studio but until then we suggest stopping by the studio on a Third Friday open house or during the upcoming Nov 21 & 22 artwalk to see the broadside in all its ink and paper glory. You can decide whether it looks best on pure white Somerset paper, or the laid lines of Hemp Heritage.
I’ve got another broadside project in the works. A buddhist poem which will be another gift project and given as a surprise present to the author of the poem for his fiftieth birthday. More on that in the near future.