That’s a really good question. I’m so glad you asked.

Well, I’ll tell you.

I got to do a lot of really cool, space-related things this summer. Not because I’m cool. I just got lucky. For example, I got to go to Houston and visit the Johnson Space Center on an all day, behind the scenes tour. I got to attend the Space Academy for Educators at Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which is really just Space Camp for teachers. While I was there I visited the Rocket Center’s archives and sifted through box after box of Wernher von Braun’s personal papers. I got to visit the “suit morgue” where they keep all the space suits that aren’t on display in the museum. I just got really lucky.

While all this was happening, I was also falling love with a girl I’d known for years. I won’t tell the whole story here but basically I didn’t think she liked me as anything more than a friend. She’s the one who invited me to go on the special tour at NASA. I knew she was special, but I still didn’t think she liked me. We spent four days together in Houston and then I left to go to Space Academy and she left to go to Europe.

My thesis is all about parallel stories and what goes on under the surface of things.

Al Shepard page

 

The main text is black. It’s all about the space-related things I did that summer as research for my thesis. The red text in the margins is all about what was going on in my head the whole time. It’s all about my confusion and self-doubt and I hope it comes off funnier than the way I’m describing it here. I wanted it to be funny, but I also wanted it to be very personal. This is without a doubt the most personal piece of art I’ve ever created. Only my proofreader and I have read the text in its entirety so far, so I’m a little nervous about the public presentation I have to give. My girlfriend, the girl from the story (oops, I just ruined the ending!) hasn’t read it because she wants to be surprised.

I hope she likes it and I hope people want to buy it. I don’t want to be stuck with fifty copies and have to use them to level tables and whatnot.

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I just wrapped up printing the text for my thesis and now I’m moving on to the images. Which is good because my defense is in APRIL. April 8th, actually. But my show has to be set up and open to the public on the 4th. I’m having my show in the university’s observatory. I’m pretty sure this is a first for both the history of book arts AND The University of Alabama. (Roll Tide)

Yesterday was my first day printing any images so I took a few pictures.

The Prints

Al Shepard page

This spread features one of the 4 color prints. It’s the first American in space, Alan Shepard. Let’s light this candle.

Al Shepard plate

This is one of the polymer plates for the Al Shepard image. This is the black layer. For more information on photopolymer plates, please see my “Award Winning” post on photopolymer plates!

moon1

This is one of the images of the moon that will be in my book. I was having paper problems, so Sarah Bryant suggested I “ink the hell out of it”, and I did. And it’s beautiful. There’s so much ink on this print that you can actually feel the moon’s craters. Which is an added bonus.

moons

moon plate

The Charts

If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to talk to me for five minutes, you’ll know that I love hand-drawn, needlessly complex, multicolored charts. I love them so much that I show them to anyone who will look. I figure this is a good opportunity to show the whole world.

standard deviation

This is my standard deviation chart. Don’t be fooled into thinking I have only one of these. If you look closely at the top you’ll see that this is the “OVERALL” standard deviation chart. I also have separate deviation charts for the text portions and image portions. I like to know how many I screw up and this helps me visualize that. For another “fine” standard deviation chart, you should probably look at this other post.

print settings

This helps me keep track of all my settings. Unlike the standard deviation chart, this one is actually quite useful.

color distribution

This is my color distribution chart. It tracks how many times each color appears throughout the book and how much of that color appears on any given page. Usefulness rating: 4 out of 10.

best chart ever

This is quite simply the best, most useful chart I’ve ever created. It shows the front and back of each spread in the book. I constantly use this as I’m printing to make sure I’m printing the correct thing on the back of some other correct thing. It also helps me keep track of which portion of each page I’ve completed via a complicated series of color-coded marks below that page. This book has 3 different colors of text and four different colors for images, so things can get pretty complicated pretty fast. Anyway, I love this chart. After this is all over I’m having it framed. Or maybe bronzed. Or both.

Al Shepard

finally started working on the images for my thesis book!

Apollo 11 is a small book I printed to honor the greatest achievement in human history. It consists of five 2″x3″ linoleum carvings on five folios and a handmade paper cover.

I printed these while visiting  Austin Peay State University last summer, using their Vandercook SP-15 press. I have a few left, so let me know if you want one. sadlarkpress@gmail.com

Below is the original drawing for the last page compared with how it turned out when printed. It’s my favorite page in this book.

These are the pages from my book project The Avatar’s Apprentice: Excerpts from the Scroll from the Ninth Dimension. It contains excerpts from all five of the Demon Princes novels by the inimitable Jack Vance. I won’t go into too much detail in this post since I’ve already talked about this book a lot here, here, and here. In fact, if you’re around me for more than five minutes I’ll probably mention this book.

I just sold the last two of these that I’m going to sell, BUT I am putting together a pre-order list for my next Jack Vance related project, Liane the Wayfarer, which I will be printing this fall. Email me at sadlarkpress@gmail.com if you want to be added to this list.

Creature is a science-fiction story written by me. And letterpress printed, illustrated, bound, and all that other jazz. If you read it, let me know what you think.

If you read it and you love it, why not buy one for you and your mom? I’ve got a bunch of them just sitting around on my shelf. Hit me up at sadlarkpress@gmail.com

buckets of pulp

I bought about 10 pounds of t-shirts from America’s Thrift and cut them up into tiny squares. I ended up with three 2 pound beats of three different colors: teal, yellow, and dark blue.

Imagine a Hollander beater filled with pounds and pounds of scrambled eggs. It would look almost exactly like the above picture! I beat yellow fibers in the morning and this made me strangely hungry. Also it smelled like swimming shorts, which is even stranger.

blue pulp draining out of beater

GLORP!!

Official JMPMBBAP badgeThis is the Official badge I designed for archivists involved in the John-Michael Perkins Memorial Bankhead Broadside Archive Project. What exactly is the John-Michael Perkins Memorial Bankhead Broadside Archive Project, you ask? And why is it “Memorial” when I’m not dead?

Well I’ll answer the second question first. I’m not dead YET. Now for the first question. Here at the University of Alabama we have the Bankhead Visiting Writers series which brings amazing writers from all over the place to the university to read from their works (http://english.ua.edu/grad/cw/bankhead). For a long time the book arts program has been letterpress printing broadsides to commemorate their readings. One fateful day, when I was trying to come up with an idea for a Bankhead broadside I was supposed to be working on, I realized that there weren’t any around for me to look at and be inspired by. This is because we usually give them all away to the English department to hand out at the readings. I decided it was high time we began keeping an archive of these broadsides because the work we all have done for the Bankhead series is beautiful and deserves to be properly cataloged and stored. I decided to name it after me because everyone wants to leave a legacy behind and this is the one I have chosen for myself. I made it “Memorial” because someday (probably) I will be dead and I want book arts students in the year 2112 to be like, “Who WAS this guy?” and everyone will shrug and go about their business. Ahhhh, what a legacy! I’ll be dead (most likely), but the archive will live on!

I’ve been the head (and only) archivist for the past year. Now I’m not going to be around forever (This isn’t more “being dead” talk. I mean that I graduate next year and I’m pretty sure they’ll force me to leave.) so I have decided who will take my place. I know she’ll do a great job (just as good, if not better than I did), and then pick someone equally as awesome to take over when she leaves. But I’ll be in charge for one more year and I plan on making some big changes. First of all, we recently (as recently as just the other day!) expanded to include Farmer’s Market broadsides printed by book arts students. This caused me to have to upgrade to a bigger cardboard box on my shelf. Also I plan on scanning them at some point. Big changes in 2012, I tell you!

Anyway, the above badge can only legally be worn by official archivists working on the project, but since I put it on the internet for all to see, how could I possibly stop you?

A Game of Thrones in chemise and SlipcaseA Game of Thrones in chemise and slip caseA Game of Thrones with its chemise and slipcase

Today I finished printing the text for my latest book project, Creature. It’s a science fiction story I wrote that recounts a strange adventure from two different character’s perspectives at the same time. This is accomplished by having one character’s story in the black body text and the other character’s story in red text in the margins. It was pretty heavily (and shamelessly!) inspired by some of my favorite science fiction authors (Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, HP Lovecraft, and Frank Herbert). I’ll put the full text on here soon along with some scans of the completed spreads.

This is the reduction linoleum for the center spread of the book. It has a fold-out flap which, when lifted, will show the two little, yellow figures (sitting on the greenish hill) have moved farther away from the viewer towards the mountains in the distance. There are two colors left for me to print on this linoleum: a darker yellow, for more sand, and a reddish brown for the mountains and figures. But I’ll have to wait a couple of days for this latest layer to dry.

This is the first page of the book. You can see the two parallel stories happening. The red text is Century Gothic and the black text is Caslon

Fun Fact: The word “mercury” is used 7 times in this story!

Getting the red text to line up with the black text was a REAL hassle.