Graveyard House Thesis -- Complete!

When last I wrote, this book was just a mockup. I successfully defended my thesis, Wendy Rebinding Wendy, on March 30, 2015, and then held a public presentation and gallery opening that afternoon. I'm proud to say that you may now call me Emma Sovich, MFA2, because I have two masters in fine arts degrees from the University of Alabama: one in Book Arts (2015) and one in Creative Writing (2014).

This fall, thanks to Steve Miller and Anna Embree, I have been teaching at the University of Alabama, while the inimitable Steve has been on sabbatical, making books at Penland and raising puppies. I've had the incredible opportunity to teach two letterpress classes, Print 1 and Print 3, and a boxmaking class, fresh out of my degree program. More on that in another post: back to Wendy Rebinding Wendy:

The book opens four different ways, and is remarkably difficult to photograph. Here is a shot of one cover, along with the box behind it.

And here is a shot from the side. There's a board down the middle that separates the two textblocks. The interior is also a delightful bouquet of color compared to the practically tweed (yet utterly luscious in person) Japanese bookcloth. These first three photos were taken by Alana Baldwin.

The book consists of four intertwined poetry narratives; each of the four sections is related to and interacts with the others, but the reader can (and must) begin where the reader decides. There are linear narratives within each section, but no one narrative takes priority.

The book is a lot easier to hold with two hands. It's also a quite intimate size, about 6" by 4". 

I had four last pages, so I took great joy in spreading the colophon across all four. The paper, which I made by hand last fall, varies in thickness and translucency throughout the book. You can see the back of a poem in the photo below.

I hope to update this blog again soon as I adjust to juggling teaching and making and documenting.

One MFA down, one to go.

While I was in Michigan a few weeks ago for the utterly fantastic Paper and Book Intensive, I got an official-sounding email from my university stating that my MFA defense was approved and my degree conferred.

Which is all really exciting, mostly because now I can turn my attention wholly to my final year of Book Arts. You know, now that I've spent two weeks enjoying Michigan birches along a lagoon and experiencing a lot of firsts.

Making this book from scratch in a class on Anabaptist binding with the ambitious Chela Metzger and Erin Hammeke... Just to give you a sense, here, we started with a textblock, but did everything from there: punched, sewed on raised cords on a sewing frame, consolidated and lined the spine, shaped wooden boards, adhered them to the textblock, shaped them some more (I'd never planed before, and certainly never while the boards were on the book), speckled the textblock edges, covered in gorgeous calf leather provided by Pergemena (my favorite leather tanner)... then cut and dapped and bossed brass for corner and center pieces, and created these nifty, weird spine straps, and even made, from scratch, catchplates and hasps for the clasps (which we were never promised, but begged and pleaded until Erin showed us how to use an anvil, two different vice jaws, a peen hammer for riveting, and a jewler's saw)....

I'd never cut into leather after covering with it before. It's a violent, yet oddly delicate process:

But necessary for the insertion of catchplates for clasps (if you don't want your crummy metal snipping to show):

I'd never dapped and bossed before, and certainly never dapped and bossed directly into a block of lead. I present: The Moon.

These are my brass corner and centerpieces, all ready to be attached to the book:

And I'd never made a book with straps before. Isn't it strapping? The straps are attached just past the shoulders, so when you open the book, they pop off the book.

I'd never before paddled in a canoe across a lagoon to Lake Michigan to watch the sunset with new friends.

In Priscilla Spitler's class on edition binding, I learned many time-saving techniques that will help me when I edition my thesis book (and every other book I edition hereafter). It's one thing to know that jigs are helpful. It's another to get a good sense of how to come up with a jig to get the job done, and to understand when you might be able to use a jig in the first place.

I had never made a sheet of paper quite this large before taking Ann Marie Kennedy's Paper and Place class. This sheet about as large as a decent flat-screen TV. I'd also never used so many different fibers at once before... certainly addictive! We had vats of hemp, flax, abaca, bamboo, and various mixtures that included onion grass, day lily leaves, dried lagoon grass, and more.

I had never taken a selfie while hula hooping before.

And here's an endband Sam Feinstein showed us for PBI PM, an informal workshop we managed to get together twice (amazing, considering how much homework we had and how much sleep we needed).

I made a ridiculous amount of new friends, too. The book arts world is a tight-knit one, where it seems everyone is eager to share and teach and learn and relearn and watch and make ridiculous paper costumes and dance to 50s music in them.

Happy New Year

I was super excited to receive my contributor's copies of Hayden's Ferry Review the other day. I read in their awesome online reading, which the fantabulous Sam Martone organized, and back then it appeared everyone else had received copies -- aaand mine was back in Tuscaloosa while I was visiting Boston. Whoops.

Also exciting was the arrival of Parcel, right before my winter vacation. (I'd have a picture of Hayden's Ferry Review but a cat is sleeping on my arm and purring really loudly and so I am even typing this one-handed. Later.) Both journals have poems from my thesis... and from the chapbook that is coming out with dancing girl press much later this year.

I'm not a big fan of resolutions. I'm afraid of commitment... or perhaps I'd like to think my efforts to improve myself are more adaptable and more frequently established. But there's something to be said for this weird space at the start of the year, where class and work haven't quite started back up yet... and something to be said for this blog space.

1. I find myself nearly thirty (only a couple more years left to chase the Ruth Lilly fellowships) and ridiculously out of shape, so in 2014 I'll continue to attempt to establish an exercise routine that works for me (eating cookies does not burn enough calories to be helpful, apparently). Good thing I attend a university that has a good gym.

2. I have to finish my creative writing thesis by April 4th of this year, so that might as well be a resolution.Woo.

3. I'll figure out how to afford my final year of gradual school (for book arts), by applying to assistantships, fellowships, and jobs and waiting impatiently for the results. 2013 was the year of establishing in-state residency for tuition purposes, and I succeeded. Woot.

4. Everything else I can think of, I'm already doing, albeit slowly and inconsistently in some cases. I've got an erratic but viable writing schedule which I supplement by using any downtime to send work out to journals. I'm busy but as focused as I realistically can be. I'm taking the time for side projects in both book arts and poetry. I will never achieve the right balance between me time, family time, friend time, and cats time. Let's face it: cat time and me time are the same thing. I'm going to AWP (it'd be nice to read for someone), and I'm going to Bermuda, and I'm going to Ox Bow Michigan. I want to make paper again this year. I will make paper again this year. Am I doing this right?

Rebinding and Printing

Life has been fantastic lately. I mean, sure, the government is shut down, giving my sister an unwanted holiday, making my mother work without pay, and possibly costing my roommate's parents their house, but all in all, life is peachy.

How could it not be peachy, when the Vandercook SP-15 looks like this?

And wood type prints soooo fiiiiiiine?

Tell me these letters aren't sexy!

And look at this mending. I mended that! I said, hey little book, let's fill your holes and strengthen your edges with fancy Japanese papers. Hey little book, let's be friends.

My workplace is never quite a zen garden... but I had so much mending and filling to get through!

How 'bout this marble/endsheet/leather combo, hmmm? 

Here's a rebinding on parchment tapes. This book will be a limp vellum model.

Back in the Type Lab, everything is galore-ious, even when accidentally printing on tympan.

And I tackled the book plough for the first time!  Here's my first-ever rounded and backed AND ploughed book. The plough makes the edges super slick.

As awkward as sewing on a frame was when I first learned last spring, I'm loving the sewing frame. I'm also becoming a little more ambidexterous. 

Single cords:

Double cords (possibly my favorite, if the more time-consuming for me at the moment):

And here are these two paired with their leather and endpapers-to-be. Swoon!

Moose would like to leave you with a bit of advice: