Kafka, Penal Colony, Oak Knoll XX!

Just in case you all thought I might be dead or lost or something I thought I’d get these bits out during a slow moment before ink once again rules the day. Yes, Kafka will be ready soon and those of you venturing to Oak Knoll Fest XX coming up in a few short weeks in New Castle, Delaware on October 5-7th will be the first to see it. This new exquisite translation by Breon Mitchell with six etchings by Dellas Henke is sure to please. The books are nearly ready and all the other bits necessary for trekking across the country are falling into place. Check back soon for some initial binding shots:  
If you can’t make it to Oak Knoll (going to be a great one) then I’ll have details up for book purchasing and final binding details on my return in mid October. I’ll also be attending CODEX VII in Febuary 2019 where I will have copies of the book as well as a preview of the upcoming Mad Parrot release of The Wind in the Willows as well as what is available of previous editions.

To the press soon! The Kafka progress


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Just moments ago I sent off the (I hope) final text edits and layout for In the Penal Colony to translator Breon Mitchell and artist Dellas Henke. Lucky for all of you we are perfectionists and because of that this new manuscript from Breon has undergone nine (I think) revisions in the past six months. I must say I’ve had too much fun doing this — for an otherwise usually grueling process it’s been fun sparring with my collaborators from anything from syntax to making calls on typographic “house style.”

Here is Dellas’s sixth etching for the book,”Entitled” to be used as the frontispiece.

All of the intaglio prints have been pulled and are awaiting another dampening for the text run. All but three more sets….

— We’ve decided to print an additional three special copies on some old Barcham Green “Windhover” stock saved by Dellas while he was working with Kim Merker and the Windhover Press during his graduate student days at the University of Iowa in the ’70s. I will contribute some lovely old stock Fabriano sheets from the ’40s for fly leaves or doublures. Some three discriminating individuals or institutions will enjoy these lovely folios of crisp sheets hand pulled by an iconic craftsman and paper mill and impressed with our impressions of this interesting little story.

UPDATE: The manuscript is finished! To the press soon!

I’ve not been idle while waiting for manuscript revisions. Progress has been made on my other Kafka project, The Hunter Gracchus, with completion of the last engraving and mezzotint intaglio work and adapting the other plates to the new size format. I’ll post some pictures of layout revisions soon.

Also, James Dissette and I have not neglected our Mad Parrot Press venture! We’ve brought Marc Castelli back on board to illustrate our new production of EM Forster ‘s The Machine Stops. Marc has worked with us in the past on our books under the Chester River Press imprint for both Heart of Darkness and The Chesapeake Voyages of Captain John Smith as well as other ephemeral projects. However, we’ve run into a snag with the Forster estate at the moment but hope to work it out to all of our benefit in the very near future. I’ll keep you posted of course as I’m always timely with my blog….

Looking toward fall:

I’ll once again be at the 16th annual Kerrytown Bookfest in Ann Arbor, Michigan peddling my books and demonstrating intaglio printing as I have for the past 16 years.

I’ll also be at Oak Knoll Fest XX in New Castle, Delaware on October 5-7th. Please join me and 40 other fine presses from around the world as we convene for this very special 20th anniversary gathering at Oak Knoll where the Fine Press Book Association was born.

All books convey a message through printed word and image. The fine press book is not just a vessel for an idea, but a message in and of itself. When the careful combination of paper, typography, printing, and binding accentuate the ideas contained within in a distinctive and artistic way, then the book as an object takes on special importance. How this evolving practice is viewed by artisans, collectors, institutions, and dealers is what Oak Knoll Fest is all about.

Looking forward towards 2018


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Here we are, a new year. I’ve been remiss updating this blog but I’ve not been fully idle in my absence so allow me to update you to some of the exciting projects underway here at Deep Wood.

Franz Kafka  —  In the Penal Colony

I will not attempt to summarize In the Penal Colony, it’s a brilliant and important part of Kafka’s canon. But if you are curious here’s a wikipedia link.

I am pleased to present this new previously unpublished translation by the acclaimed Breon Mitchell which will be lavishly illustrated with six etchings by Dellas Henke. This very limited edition is set at 30 copies  divided between Dellas, Breon and myself and will be sold in sheets primarily. I will bind my third of the edition and also produce some presentation bindings.

Dellas has been working on editioning the intaglio prints and is closing in on his end of the project while the rest of the paper lies here at the press waiting as I fuss with last minute layout adjustments.

The book is large a format 10×13 inch (25×33 cm) page size with the text being composed in Janson and printed on Somerset Book White, 175gsm. The intaglio illustrations are “bled print” to the edges. 40 pages. $1000.00 unbound. Advanced inquiries and sales may be made.

Here are some of the image proofs from Dellas, 10×13″ sheets. It should be noted that these are proofs – works in progress – and also were not printed on Somerset stock.

Breon Mitchell has translated major works by Günter Grass, Heinrich Böll, Siegfried Lenz and other leading German authors.  His retranslation of Kafka’s Trial received a special commendation from the American Translators Association. His other awards include the ATA’s Ungar Prize , the ALTA Translation Prize, the Kurt and Helen Wolff Prize,  the MLA’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize, and the British Society of Authors’ Schlegel-Tieck Prize. He is Director Emeritus of the Lilly Library and Professor Emeritus of Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Dellas Henke learned printmaking a S.U.N.Y. Brockport from Robert Marx. It was there that he saw his first artist’s books- collaborations Marx had made with the activist priests the Barrigan brothers. Henke continued his education at the University of Iowa where he worked with printmakers Mauricio Lasansky and Keith Achepohl and had the remarkable opportunity to learn about letterpress printing from KK Merker and Kay Amert. It was in Iowa that Henke first illustrated with etchings Samuel Beckett’s, “Waiting for Godot” – an edition sanctioned and signed by Beckett. Over the next few years there were further collaborations with Merker and the Iowa Center for the Book where Henke illustrated Beckett’s “Company” and H.D.’s “ Within the Walls and eventually making an illustrated edition of Beckett’s, “Ill Seen Ill Said”. In the intervening years Henke has been the coordinator for the printmaking department at Grand Valley State University where he continues to make prints, paint, and draw. Henke has been involved in more than 200 exhibitions and has been collected by dozens of public institutions.

I would also be remiss mentioning that Dellas was my professor for printmaking in college long ago. Great to be working with him again and his visits north have been a lot of fun fishing, hiking around with his dog Lazlo and telling stories.

Further, it is a thrill to be working with Breon on this project and a fortunate stroke of serendipity with my own project though rather mind bending to be working on two Kafka manuscripts at a time.


Dellas, working on print arrangement for the book.


  • My own Kafka project The Hunter Gracchus  is also coming along but has been completely redesigned to a larger format. More to come soon with that progress.
  • I sadly note the passing of Judith Minty in November. Judith and I produced her short Killing the Bear in 2011 with wood engravings by Glenn Wolff. In her 84 years I hope I amused her for at least one of them….

Opening spread, Killing the Bear by Judith Minty

  • James Dissette and I have continued planning our new projects for our Mad Parrot Press (formerly Chester River Press) and plan to bring you E.M. Forster’s strange and prescient science fiction story, The Machine Stops. We are also in the planning stages for the iconic childhood rhapsody, Wind in the Willows which will be illustrated by the brilliant linoleum cuts of Vladimir Zimakov. Here’s a taste of his concept art for Badger:

Badger c

Residency and Instruction

One of my distractions lately from making books has been finishing the guest house above “studio B” which is now listed on AirBnB. The space will be used to host collaborators, limited artist residencies and, of course, some additional income…

Use of the studio spaces and instruction can also be negotiated with a stay. Fully (and nicely) appointed letterpress and intaglio print spaces as well as a complete bindery. Visit my main website for much more information about the facilities here.

Airbnb pic

View On AirbnbStudio on the Cedar River ~ A Bibliophiles Dream