Monday, October 22, 2007

Dishes Done

Tomorrow is the postmark deadline for submissions to 'Fresh Impressions: Letterpress in Contemporary Art', an exhibition at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. I really really wanted to include my book Do the Dishes in my submission but I literally only finished it this afternoon, snapped some photos on a borrowed camera (thanks Lulu) and burned them onto a CD to put in the post on my way to work tomorrow morning.

By nature, I am not inclined to finish things at the last minute. I generally try to have a generous margin of several days between completion and due date. Not for me, the pulling of all-nighters, late delivery of work or the slipshod proofreading at the 11th hour, so this experience has been a little stressful.

This book has been gestating for two years, since experiencing the epiphany described in the poem. First I wrote the text, then I imagined the book and always knew it could only be letterpress printed, so then I had to find somewhere to learn letterpress and then get enough skill to come close to manifesting my vision. Oh, and I had to learn die cutting (and get the necessary equipment made for that).

Actual work on the books that I finished today began a couple of months ago, with the covers: first a pattern, then text, then realising that the pattern overpowered the text, I had to learn how to soften if with a colleographed tint and assemble the tools for that (thanks Ruth).

Then with Jim's help I laid out the text margins justified to a circle shape and die cut the pages into circles. Last weekend I spend a whole day in assembly line attaching the pages to the spines: it is tricky to get circles lined up straight!

That's when I realised that I had forgotten to get the silver paper I wanted for the end papers (actually boards) and removable spines. Whangarei being the art supply wasteland that it is, I decided it would be just as quick and certainly less expensive to pick up the necessary paper when I was visiting Hamilton this weekend for a party, rather than mail order it. Saturday afternoon at Gordon Harris did the trick (and for once I resisted all temptation and didn't buy anything not on my list!). I drove back to Whangarei early, early this morning, so as to have a full day's work on the books at the Quarry. Unfortunately I quickly realised that I had underestimated my silver paper requirements and only had enough to complete three books. ARGHHH!

Fortunately I just as quickly remembered that I only needed one book finished to photograph and I managed to do that in the fading light of the rainy afternoon. Thank goodness for digital cameras: of the seventy or so photos I took, about four were good enough (though embarrassing to put on the same disk as the superlative photos by Mags). The drama continued with some difficulty in figuring out how to get my laptop to communicate with an unfamiliar camera, but a phonecall to my tech savvy daughter (every poet should have one) and a reboot eventually did the trick.

As well as hoping this book will travel to Oregon next year, I intend it as the centre piece of my upcoming solo exhibition, Domestic Pilgrimage. Finishing Do the Dishes means I have now made more than half the pieces for the exhibition. With less than four weeks until the opening and three books left to make (all big and complicated) I expect posts here will continue to be sparse. Bear with me, dear readers, I promise not to completely abandon Bibliophilia.


elizq said...

Beautiful book and beautiful poem.
And please, keep on writting here!

Jane in Dunedin said...

Your travails and forward momentum left me almost breathless with this post - I could just about feel the sweat on your brow! And could sense your stress levels. Well done for rolling with the challenges and getting it done on time! Phew!!! Good luck withy getting the rest of your exhibition together - how exciting Meliors!!!! Did I say I got your paper bag proofs in the mail? They were gorgeous of course!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait!!