Archive for May, 2011

Maji Moto — New fine press book project underway.

Posted in 21st century life, Aesthetic Experience, Craft: not country-cute, but Craft, Horse & Buggy Press project, Publishing on May 5, 2011 by horseandbuggypress

I’m getting started on a fine press book which I am very excited about.

Maji Moto will feature over forty photographs and ten lyrical essays by Courtney Fitzpatrick (who, after a few phone calls and email exchanges, I was amazed to discover lives around the corner from me in Old West Durham, small world).

Excerpt follows from the Maji Moto announcement (which includes extensive details about the book, as well as biographical information about Courtney; please know that I’m happy to mail out an ink-on-paper version if you prefer)

…In 2009 Courtney Fitzpatrick traveled to the Amboseli basin in Kenya to study primate biology. Over the next year, as she acclimated to living as a guest in a remote research camp, Kenya descended into the worst drought of its living memory. Maji Moto is a record of disorientation, deprivation, and discovery. It heeds the call to rejoice. It is a plea and an apology, a love letter and a eulogy…

Courtney spent seventeen months doing advanced field biology work. Maji Moto is the personal side of an amazing and intense experience that occurred during her stay and scientific research. She turns her camera lens towards the unique, majestically beautiful, and often unforgivingly brutal environment that an amazing array of animals attempt to exist within. Her writing reflects upon the experience and the myriad external and internal forces at play as she shares sights and discoveries not too many humans will witness in their lifetime.

“Maji moto, and we are in hot water indeed. Glaciers are melting, the wells are running dry, and still there is the private weight and weather of our own days. Where is the aquifer that hydrates your solar plexus? I will pluck out the straws and cork the leaks. Let me lash hinged thimbles to your fingertips. Ten tiny buckets will swing like iron when you walk, heavy with the catch of your rain.”

Forewords will be contributed by Donna Haraway, distinguished scholar of science studies, and Harry Greene, world renowned snake expert and leading field biologist.

All orders received prior to June 15 will receive 15% off — and be very helpful in providing some upfront money for what will be a nearly year-long project, the conclusion of which will be 175 hand-printed, hand-bound copies of an at least 80-page book. The book will debut in April alongside an exhibition of Courtney’s photographs here in the foyer gallery. (We are also hoping to secure a few kind-hearted and generous “sponsors” for the project who will receive a deluxe edition of the book, along with a heartfelt acknowlegment of thanks within all copies of the edition.)

All text will be letterpress-printed by hand on a heavyweight, eggshell-finish premium uncoated text sheet. Images will be faifthfully and lovingly reproduced on an Indigo Press, and the book will be hand-sewn with linen thread in a flexible “over the shoulder/extended hollow” reinforced softcover binding by Craig Jensen of Book Lab II. This custom-designed binding allows the book to open completely flat and without stress on the spine.

A photographic print, suitable for framing, will be tucked inside the back cover of each book.

Deluxe edition copies, lettered A-Z, will be housed in a clamshell box with a hand-printed spine label and will feature a second larger photographic print.

Order form with discount for early bird orders

Below are a few of Courtney’s photographs and another excerpt from one of her essays.

“I stopped at thirty when I counted the elephants behind my tent last night. They rumbled and trumpeted and stomped around until I thought Kili’s new snows might shake down right off the mountain. I thought I might march out there with my hands on my hips, “Some of us are trying to get some work done, you know!” But just then fourteen heavy-legged white storks came in for a landing. They turned that dead snag into twilit praise-Jesus church risers with their bill-clattering rounds, and tethered me to one holy moment. They hyenas uptrill, the dik-diks tiptoe, and the mongoose prowl, so I must be back in the shallow bowl of Amboseli.”


New fine press book edition: Southern Fictions by Kathryn Stripling Byer

Posted in Aesthetic Experience, Art, Craft: not country-cute, but Craft, Event, Friends, Horse & Buggy Press project, Politics/Philosophy, Publishing on May 5, 2011 by horseandbuggypress

Richard Krawiec of Jacar Press commissioned me to create a fine press, limited edition book of poems by Kay Byer. Over the past year I designed the book in collaboration with Kay and Richard, working with Ann Marie Kennedy to have a custom run of handmade paper for the covers, and then I hand-printed and hand-bound all 100 copies which were then signed and numbered by the former North Carolina Piedmont Laureate.

The sonnets are Kay’s attempt to write about and reflect upon the racial conflict in Southwest Georgia that took place around her amidst growing up during the Jim Crow era.

From Kay’s introduction in the book. . .

For years I tried to write about the racial conflict in my Southwest Georgia county as I experienced it growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, but I didn’t trust my own voice to speak honestly about living in the midst of that turbulent time. Who was I then? Even more important, who was I now?

Ten years ago, an accident in the Smoky Mountains left me laid up with a broken ankle for weeks. I had plenty of time to read and think. So I opened my notebook and began writing a sonnet about growing up in the deep South. One sonnet led to another and into the material I’d tried to write about for so long. As another native Georgian, the fiction writer Flannery O’Connor, once said, “Our limitations are our gateways to reality.” The precise iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme of the sonnet had opened the gate to this particular reality and enabled me to render it into poetry.

Half of the edition is printed on tan Bugra printmaking paper, and half of the edition uses Schiller, a white printmaking paper. Both are premium, heavy-weight text sheets with a wonderful toothy finish that shows off the hand-printed letterpress impression, slowing the reader down and creating an intimate, tactile reading experience to fully enter the world of Kay’s writing.

I decided to play off the first few lines of the first sonnet by taking a few Confederate battle flags, cutting them up into small pieces, and then Ann Marie Kennedy turned them into pulp, combining them with flax paper to create a wonderful toothy and strong handmade paper for the covers. A nice recontextualization and one that means you are literally holding a repurposed flag in your hands while you read Kay’s poems. I will admit it was nerve wracking looking at a 3 foot by 5 foot Confederate battle flag… but after getting over that it felt pretty good to take a rotary cutter and slice the thing up into pieces.

Half of the edition has these recontextualized flag covers, and half of the edition has a simpler creamy warm white flax/cotton blend without any flag fibers. All books feature a frontispiece image of a flag which is meant to imitate what a flag might look like after being up in a window for decades and faded by the sun. There are no illustrations in the book other than this image. Just Kay’s sonnets in which she explores and reflects upon her time and what it means now, what she carries around.

Below are a few images from the book. The limited edition books sell for $100, and a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will be used to fund youth writing workshops exploring issues of identity.


Below are a few pictures of the finished books as well as a few of the steps involved in creating the hand-printed, hand-bound book edition.

Bumper Sticker

Posted in 21st century life, Durham, Friends, Horse & Buggy Press project on May 3, 2011 by horseandbuggypress

As a one person shop, I rarely ever do pro bono work. I simply cannot afford to work and not get paid. So, I’m pretty quick with “No” when people call with various causes they want some freebie for.

But every now and then if something is important or fun enough I’ll do it.

I live on Englewood Avenue, the dividing line between Old West Durham and Watts Hillandale neigbhborhood. I like to think I belong to both neighborhoods.

Anyway, this is the bumper sticker I design for the neighborhood association to the north. Always hard to put this kind of thing out there and not feel soapbox preachy, but you know, I really don’t dig it when people drive like an ass, speeding, running stop signs, not using a turn signal, tailgating, etc.

Maybe if more people float this and drive well some of the others will catch on. You are most welcome to put this on your car even if you live in a different neighborhood. Holler at me if you want one, or stop by on our Third Friday open studio nights.