New special bindings and the Manhattan book fair


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I will be in Manhattan next Saturday across from the NY Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory. Our Fine Press Book Association (FPBA) Shadow Fair venue is the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, 869 Lexington Ave at 66th Street. Saturday April 29, from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Come see all the beautiful books and people from around the world!

There will be 40 presses showing this year, here is a link to the list. I remember the first fair in 2014 and all the wonderful experiences associated with the event, the city, art and food along the way. Each time finding new inspiration and ideas – looking forward to another visit.

No new book for the table this year, I’ve been busy binding deluxe and presentation copies of books since the completion of The Wind in the Willows. These books are already sold and most of this type of work I do is commissioned from my current and previous titles so it will be nice to show a few examples of some of my presentation bindings before they disappear into private libraries.

Only another six or so bindings to go before I’m caught up and get to be a printer again! Some really delicious poetry coming soon from James Bernard Gross via the charming volume The Liquorstore pomes (not a typo) and we continue to refine The Machine Stops for the Mad Parrot Press imprint.

Spring is finally near here in the Deep Wood. A few crocus and daffodils making the appearance along with wild leek, trout lilies and fern poking through in the woods. Spring peepers and wood frogs came out earlier in the week, turtles crawl out of the muck to sun themselves on logs and geese honk all night long in their efforts to perpetuate the species. These clear cold spring nights are good for some things beyond our sphere as well.

Spring 2023 – France, NYC & more presentation bindings


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The past year has been a full one. A vast amount of my time has been spent working on presentation bindings, a few of which as yet still backlogged on my bench. In addition, I spent a month in the fall in France where I made a connection with the Foundation Louis Jou in Les Baux de Provence. That connection led to an invitation to join the Foundation board and I am honored and pleased that I was elected by fellow members this spring to help guide the organization forward.

Louis Jou (1881-1968) was a prolific fine book printer, wood engraver, type designer and book binder. He was born in Catalonia but moved to Paris in 1906, attracted by the growing artistic scene and by 1921 he was designing his own proprietary typeface, having it cast in Spain and releasing his first imprint – Machiavelli’s The Prince. In 1939 with most of his staff leaving to join the war, Jou moved his studio to Les Baux where he began the restoration of the Hotel de Brion, though he could not move the presses to the location until after the war. Of the 167 books he created, 95 were printed on his iron hand presses. In 2017 the Foundation was created and work began to restore the workshop, museum and make Jou’s work more accessible to the public. I immediately felt a kindred relationship with Jou as I too do every step of the book creation process “in house” and am drawn to the classical ideal of a fine press book.

The studio is well equipped with three Stanhope iron hand presses, a wood framed intaglio press, book presses, Jou’s gravers and other tools. The composing room doubles as a workshop space and the walls are lined with type cabinets full of Jou’s proprietary types. Upstairs is an apartment for workshop students and staff with a small kitchen, dining space and 3 bedrooms. Across the street is Atelier du Livre where François and his daughter Marie Vinourd, book and paper conservators, ply their trade. As you can imagine, I immediately felt right at home despite the frequent language barrier.

My partner, Madeleine Vedel, lived in this region of France for 20 years before we met in Northern Michigan. She and her former husband had a noted cooking school and B&B in Arles and after their separation the opportunity to establish a goat farm creamery and make cheese brought her back across the ocean with her sons. Her goat adventure behind her, she has recently created a small but thriving chocolate business. Madeleine concurrently taps her connections with artisans and locations in France to offer specialized tours (often centered around food and wine) through her Cuisine Provencale. All this back story is a lead-up to the individual who in fact made the connection for me with the Foundation: Madeleine’s friend and goat mentor Claudine, now retired from cheese making, is a docent at the Jou Foundation and encouraged us to visit. Not expecting much from this visit I was blown away by the legacy of Jou and the possibilities the space had to offer. I immediately made contact with the Foundation offering to make some needed repairs which turned into a brilliant working holiday where I became good friends with another board member and was introduced to many other printmakers, bookbinders and printers during my stay.

Madeleine and I somewhere in Provence

From my position on the board I am tasked with developing international programming for a workshop series, helping restore the equipment and composing room and to be “ambassador for the book.” Other goals include creating a book with some of Jou’s unpublished wood engravings (in his type) and bringing graduate level book arts students to Les Baux for extended workshops and internships. More information to come on these latter goals in future blog posts.

I am pleased that for this inaugural year I have lined up two instructors so far. Richard Wagener (Mixolydian Editions) will be teaching wood engraving in September and Joanne Price (Starpointe Studio) will also teach a wood engraving class in October. I will teach a type composition class in October as well. When the schedule is set I will offer more information here but if you are interested in any of these workshops and want to travel to an amazing location this fall in the South of France mark your calendar now!

Book binding:

Before and following the release of my last project, The Wind in the Willows, I have been inundated with the creation of presentation bindings for that book as well as a back log of special bindings, slip cases and solander boxes for some of my earlier editions. I will confess, I’ve never had a best seller before where special bindings were sold out in advance, these usually trickle in at a manageable pace. This is solitary work, each binding is a work of art in itself and – they take time. I’m not complaining, I’m thrilled that my bindery work has achieved such recognition and desire but I am ready to get back on the press again and create new books! Below you can see some of the bindings I have completed in the recent months.


Work on The Machine Stops and my Mad Parrot imprint with James Dissette is progressing slowly and I have another commission for a book of poetry, The Liquor Store Pomes (not a typo) by James Bernard Gross who had an earlier book (Fingerings for Words: selected poems) produced by Chester Creek Press in 2016. Along with a couple other small projects that need to get on the press it will be another busy year in leather and ink.

I (and Madeleine too!) will be at the eighth annual Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair next month on Saturday, April 29th from 10 AM to 5 PM. Our event is at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, 869 Lexington Ave at 66th Street across the street from the NY Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory.

I hope to see you there!

Before I left for Europe I had a visit from Dave Seat who helped me replace all the heaters on my Linotype machine with modern solid state controllers. A little more work and the machine will once again be producing beautiful type for future books.

Future projects and printing in France


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Last week I visited Les Baux-de-Provence and finally made face to face contact with the Fondation Louis Jou along with the Bibliothèque nationale de France to begin a relationship with both organizations for when I will eventually live here on a part time basis with my partner Madeleine Hill Vedel at her home in Avignon just 40 minutes away. Covid had delayed the trip a couple years but now we are back on track. The initial visit was wonderful giving me a chance to assess the current condition of the three hand presses on location and to visit with Atelier du Livre François and Marie Vinourd – book and paper conservators, across the lane.

This weekend and through next week I’ve been invited to stay with Jean-Louis Estève at his home and workshop in the Les Gorges du Verdon region and then we will make our way back to Les Baux where a wood engraving workshop will be given (hopefully I will be doing intaglio if a spare plate is to be found) where we will stay on premise and, with luck, do some initial basic repairs that are needed on the large Stanhope press that Louis Jou printed a majority of his wondrous books on until 1967.

I’m currently moving about Provence until November 7th. I still receive email but my phone is non-functional here until my return and I neglected to update my voicemail before leaving. Apologies to anyone who has tried to contact me for any urgent matter.

Upon my return to the comparably frigid Northern Michigan I will be right back at finishing the backlog of deluxe and presentation bindings that are lingering on the bench, continue layouts for The Machine Stops with James and interviewing a couple of potential apprentices for the 2022-23 season. Thank you to those who have been patiently waiting for your books, it was not my intention to leave you in expectation for so long.

It is possible that the book is the last refuge of the free man. If the man turns decidedly to the automaton; if it happens to no longer think that according to the ready-made images of a screen, this termite will end up not reading any more. All sorts of machines will make up for it: he will allow his mind to be manipulated by a system of speaking visions; the color, the rhythm, the relief, a thousand ways to replace effort and dead attention, to fill the void or the laziness of the search for the particular imagination: everything will be there, minus the spirit. This law is that of the herd. The book will always have followers, the last men who will not be mass-produced by the social machine. A beautiful book, this temple of the individual, is the acropolis where thought entrenches itself against the plebs.

Excerpt from L’Art du livre by André Suarès, written in 1920, printed by Louis Jou in 1922