I have always felt a tinge of shame that before I started making artist's books, one of my favourite pastimes was doing jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaws are so uncool and so pointless (at least cross stitch provides a finished product or television viewing provides cultural connection). From the very second I made my first book and knew I had found my calling, I dropped jigsaw from my life like the unneccessary time filler it was.
Not that I have got anything against puzzles. Sometimes in Classics bookshop I wistfully admire their high end jigsaw selection. It's just a matter of priorities. A good jigsaw puzzle experience occupies twelve or more hours and half a dining table. Since devoting my hours and table space to book making books is even more absorbing, challenging and fun than puzzling; and eventually might I end up with a finished book that I am really pleased with and sometimes other people admire and even want to buy... jigsaw puzzles lost their place in my life.
However typesetting, to my delight, turns out to have bit in common with putting together jigsaw puzzles. Just as important as getting all the letters to print in the right order is arranging the white space around the words. And that means filling in the chase (frame) with blocks of wood and strips of metal of varying sizes and shapes, wedging them so tightly that there is no chance of a slippery little lead letter shifting about during the printing.
As I sat there Friday afternoon, trying different pieces to see if they would fit around my LANGUID text, I finally felt that I had something to show for all my years of jigsaw puzzling: a well tested capacity for the patience, persistance and patterning inherent to typesetting. Not to mention being able to find it an enormously pleasurable activity.