Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Patterned Paper

A bookbinder I know has recently introduced me to the work of some friends of his in Edinburgh making patterned paper, J & J Jeffery. As far as I can tell they have little or no web presence. They create some of the most sumptuous patterned papers I've seen. Some are paste papers, where ink is spread onto glass and patterned before the paper is pressed onto it - a little like a repeatable form of monoprinting I suppose. Some are block printed; many of the block printed ones are my favourites. And of particular note is their Dutch Gilt paper, vibrant, colourful and very rich indeed.

I have ordered my first batch of their paper and already have ideas about the project for which it might be used.

Patterned Paper Continued

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Old Stile Press in The Style Press

House and Garden is usually much more R's kind of magazine than mine but the December edition features a lovely two page spread on my friends Nicolas and Frances at The Old Stile Press. I was particularly struck by the beautiful photograph of the two of them which I may just have to cut out and frame for our 'friends and family' table.

If you are not familiar with The Old Stile Press, then first of all, 'where have you been?' and second of all get thee hence for a good snuffle round their website and blog. Their latest book is one I know Nicholas is rightly very proud of, A Christmas Sequence chosen by Benjamin Britten for an opera that was never written... now brought to life with woodcut images by Angela Lemaire
PS. While we're on the subject of small presses. Years ago I used to have link in my bookmarks to a small press who had produced a small edition of poems not by, but about Derek Jarman, and the link has been lost along with all memory of the name of the book, author or press... can anyone help?

Barnett Freedman: Faber and Faber

I'm sure I'm very behind the curve in discovering only now that Faber & Faber have a Flickr presence and some very wondeful photosets. Among which is a fascinating small set of catalogues and other ephemeral images including these two Christmas cards designed for the company by Barnett Freedman, one of my favourite "dust-jackets artists". I fear these are exactly the kind of items which do not survive well but, what I wouldn't give...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This Weekend

Well, the plan had been that this weekend I would get together the edition of A Boy's Absence that I mentioned and showed the start of a couple of days ago. But, just when I was about to give up hope, the problem I've been having with Raven 7 was resolved and the covers for the head of the edition which is bound in boards were finally delivered, some 12 weeks or more after they were needed! I have the gilt stamping on the covers done by a bookbinder and, to cut a long story short, they no longer had access to the right sized fount for the letting on the spine and had to order some new.

The upshot is that this weekend is now pretty solidly about putting books in their covers and I hope, tomorrow, to be able to make the anouncement that Raven 7, The Constant Family is published and to add A Boy's Absence as a tail on that anouncement. The photos above are from various stages in the process but all that remains to do now, after 10 hours solid work, are a few copies of A Boy's Absence and to celophane wrap enough copies of the ordinary state of The Constant Family. Then there's the webwork to do, adding them to my website, and the email circular to sort out - tomorrow...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cut Out Boy

Also from the Otto Jaros papers, this cute little card with a sillhouette of a small boy in lederhosen cut from black card stuck on white. It is dated 1939 on the verso.

The Cat has Come To Stay

Many years ago now R and I brought two cats into our lives, Curzon and Dax, (and it's probably best not to ask about the names). Through thick and thin they followed us around until eventually circumstances forced us to find another home for them.

Horror of horrors, a few years ago now, Curzon went missing never to be seen again, perhaps even worse than loosing a pet to a road accident or some other known fate. But Dax soldiers on, now about 12 years old and is owned now by a somewhat disabled friend of ours who has looked after her for a good couple of years and we all agreed that it was to be a permanent move to give the poor cat some stability for the rest of her natural.

But that doesn't rule out the odd holiday! Our friend rarely goes away, maybe once every two or three years but a family wedding up north was enough to prompt her to fight her way onto a plane so we have the cat for a couple of weeks. As I type this she's curled up on the bed between R's feet and I'm not sure if the little snoozy noises are coming from her or from him but it's all very sweet nonetheless.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Envelope Paper

Here's a curiosity. I have just bought a pile of papers relating to Otto Jaros, a young German pilot whose plane was shot down over Essex in 1940 and who spent the rest of the war as a POW and as I don't read German, it's going to take a while to work out exactly what I have. So, for the time being I shall just redirect you to the Thameside Aviation Museum's Page about his plane and confine my comments to the more obvious finds within the papers.

These small envelopes, all dating from the late 1930s are lined with lovely patterned tissue paper, a little like the way that bank envelopes these days have patterns printed on the inside to prevent anyone from being able to see the contents through the paper. I'm sure I prefer these pretty things though.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Boy's Absence - Arnold W. Smith

Hot off the workbench, this is the first in a new edition of a cycle of twenty sonnets by the schoolteacher Arnold W. Smith. It is also going to be the first new Callum James Books publication in some time since we have been having all manner of difficulties with the latest Raven monograph. However, even this title isn't quite yet available. It will be soon, but not yet.

The quote that is always trotted out about these poems is from Tim D'Arch Smith in his Love in Earnest that Smith's poems embody the highest standards of self-criticism. By which I assume Tim means that Arnold Smith doesn't try any of the rather self-serving and self-justifying arguments common in Uranian literature and the poems are all the better for it. They are simply the feelings of a schoolmaster who is missing the boy that he has something of a crush on, probably during the school holidays. This is definitely not a scholarly edition, there is no attempt to edit, interpret or introduce the sonnets it is a simple reprinting; a pretty thing rather than a clever thing.

It's one of the smallest books I've ever produced measuring only about 10cm tall. I based the proportions and design on The New Temple Shakespeares which I have always thought 'feel' rather nice in the hand. There are going to be 20 of these casebound copies and then the edition will be topped up to 50 with copies sewn into card covers to the same scale as the casebound ones.

With 20 small casebound books to make I have a few evenings work to go yet as this is just number one.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Miscellaneous Artworks

These are just a few strays I found in the miscellaneous folder on my hard drive and I thought I'd share. The top three by Augustus John (the second being a portrait sketch of Reresby Sitwell) and the bottom two by Donald Friend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Queen Victoria and Co.

This is an interesting, if a little frustrating, item. I've examined this CDV minutely and I still can't work out exaclty what it is. The faces, certainly, appear photographic and yet the backdrop, the carpet and props all appear as though this is a photo of a painting or engraving. I have known group photos on cabinet cards and CDVs where the heads have been 'stuck' on to some kind of mock up but those have always been very obvious to anyone from the age of Photoshop. The mystery is compounded by the fact that, although there are a number of very well known large pictures (photos and paintings) of the Queen and her extended family, I can't find any other example of this particular image.

The best I can think at the moment is that it's a photograph but one which has been heavily worked over on a positive print and the photographed again... maybe...

Callum James Books is Back Online

There is something very sexy about having your own!

it's the same website but somehow it just feels a whole lot more exciting now it has a proper, easy to remember name - should have done it years ago!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vintage Map of Brighton

Although its content is very different to my own, one of my favourite blogs is Ace Jet 170, a typographical/graphic design blog (oh, and a few chickens). There's a particular feeling over there that Maps are pretty cool and since my best friend from school has recently also confessed to a bit of a passion for maps, when I saw this in a box of 'stuff' I couldn't help but think of them both. I have to say that I do see the attraction.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Keith Vaughan

R has been away this weekend just gone in Bath and Bristol and he popped in on Anthony Hepworth's gallery in Bath and was treated to a show of some Vaughan's not actually on display at the moment. Hepworth is a recognised expert on Vaughan. So when R came home waving two beautifully produced catalogues full of beautifully reproduced Vaughan pictures I was put in mind of a few I have found of late that, as usual, may not yet have found their way onto the internet and so that's what you are looking at above.

From the top:

1. Woman With Dogs

2. Figure Washing at a Basin

3. Abstract Oil and Canvas Collage

3. The Medical Inspection

Obviously they all have an appeal but if I was forced to take one home to hang on the wall, perhaps strangely, it would be the abstract. I don't always have much of a feel for abstract work and would normally choose a figurative piece over abstract work any day but there is just something extremely compelling to me about the collage.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Antarctic Letter

This is a rather lovely thing that I am currently selling. A letter from Edward (Teddy) Evans, second in command of Captain Scotts fateful 1910 Antarctic Expedition. You should be able to read the letter by enlarging the photos here but what I like about it particularly is that, in offering this young chap a post as Able Seaman on the Terra Nova, Evans provides a list of things that will be provided and a list of thing, clothing and so on, that he must provide himself and the whole exercise reminds me of something like a school trip.

The particularly nice thing is the PS. The letter was to the son of William Schermuly who was the inventor of the Schermuly Rocket or the Schermuly Line, basically a safe and easy way to fire a rocket with a line attatched from a foundering ship to the shore, a life-saving device. The Schermuly device was fitted, free of charge, to the Terra Nova and we know they were on the ship when it sailed a few months after this letter was written. However, it's not clear to me, maybe to someone more knowledgable, that Schermuly junior was onboard with them. He is not listed in any crew manifest I can find so presumably something happened in the months before the Terra Nova left Cardiff.

The Website is Dead, Long Live the Website...

Please don't be concerned if you are trying to find my website at the moment. The ISP which was providing the space has decided, for no particular reason that I can see except commercial expediency, and with very little warning, to withdraw their provision of webspace to all their customers.

The silver lining however, is that it has prompted me to do something that I've been thinking about for far too long and I now own

which should be up and operational in the next week or so.

Thank you for your patience ;-)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Eric By Dean Farrar

This little chap is from my 2 volume OUP, Early Victorian History. He is captioned 'Boy of 1856: Eric, or Little by Little' and we are told that he lives at the Victoria and Albert Museum, but there is no more information about him than that and it's not entirely clear to me whether he is simply a boy doll of the period or if, for some reason, he is known to be a representation of Eric.

Eric or Little by Little was enormously popular in it's day. It is said that you can chart the journey of the Public School Novel in England with three landmarks. Eric was the good Christian boy, whose popularity was eclipsed by Tom Brown and who was finally reduced to a laughing stock by those ragamuffins in Kipling's Stalky and Co. But Eric endured nonetheless for a very long time and was constantly reprinted. My rather tatty copy illustrated here is the 1892 edition.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Call of the Past

A while ago now I was a teenager and, like a number of rather more geeky teenagers, I was a fan of the RPG (or role-playing game to you). Yes, I have played D+D (not AD+D but the even more 'original' D+D) but the game that really stirred the imagination was Call of the Cthulhu, a horror-genre role-playing game based on the books and stories of H. P. Lovecraft.

So when an old friend from school - in fact the only old school friend I'm still in touch with - suggested that we should rake over the coals of our teenage enthusiams and put together the Call of the Cthulhu game to end all Call of the Cthulhu games, of course I said yes.

most RPGers will proudly tell you that the best thing about RPGs in general is that you require absolutely nothing but some dice, an imagination and some paper and pencils but for this new game we are branching out and my role in the whole thing is something akin to 'prop master'. Which is how I come to be showing off the above. The game requires two dice, old and possibly occult looking with strange symbols on for numbers and the above were my answer to this. Made by my own fair hand from Milliput, gouged with numbers from the Illuminati Cipher and then painted I have to say, I'm rather proud of them. I'm also working on a fake nineteenth century notebook which is going rather better than expected and which may be introduced here ere long...

If the above means nothing to you at all then rest assured that your sanity is completely safe.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Sexiness of Sculpture Again

Verrocchio: David
Sansovino: Bacchus
Cellini: Perseus
Cellini: Narcissus
Bernini: Angel

So it's been one of those strange times of late when the weather, which has been unrelentingly cold and miserable for some days now, and the change of season generally, makes life seem a little harder than it actually is. That, and a number of stupid little real-life dramas, largely related to the piece of machinery I sometimes think of as our car, have made for something of a blogging gap... here's to undo all that!

One of the benefits of spending whole afternoons up to your elbows in the rather mucky possessions of someone recently deceased, trying to find the gems which might make your visit worthwhile, is that one sometimes comes up with things of no real value but which can be tucked away into the haul for their mildly diverting value. Hence I find myself going through a rather well illustrated and erudite book on Italian sculpture to bring you the sexiness here displayed.

It also led to me adding a small update to my Saint Sebastian Blog, which hasn't happened in a long time!
Who links to my website?