Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Printing Project: French Fold

First Semester of my printing class was mostly just to get us used to the processes. We had five different projects ranging in different styles of printing and as of yet I still don't have any pictures of all of them. This semester was meant to get us into larger projects and teach us how to plan several elements at once.

The relationship between text and image, letter and letter, baseline and baseline is a delicate, complicated balance between white space and legibility, readability and optical alignment. I've read all kinds of essays, papers, and chapters from old typographic style manuals explaining how all the different styles of type faces interact or fight against the reader. In any project where you have a body of text, more energy goes into the planning than into the printing. You spend hours pouring over the text not only looking for typos but line spacing, letter spacing, how many words are in a line, how many lines are in the paragraph, where the text lies on the page, how does the text interact with white space, does the text belong on the recto or the verso, how close should the text lie to the fore edge, how close to the gutter? Hours and hours of planning...

French Fold Assignment: Our first project this semester is called a french fold wherein everything is printed on one side of a sheet of paper then the paper is folded twice. I chose to make a traditional french fold, like the birthday cards my brothers and I printed out from the family computer back in the good old days of dot matrix printers and Prodigy. Anyone remember that? Anyway, in terms the kids from day care would understand, you take a piece of paper and fold it hamburger style, then fold it again hot dog style and you've got yourself a traditional french fold.

For the text I had boy write a short short (a short story aboout 200 words or less) and I created the images.
The images are the nutmeg tree and the nutmeg seed. I found the images online, traced them and transferred them onto a linoleum block. The linoleum block is then carved around the image, leaving a relief block to be printed. First I printed the lightest color, in this case white. Then I carved away all that I wanted to stay white and printed the next darker color. For the cover the next color was light green. Then I carved away all that I wanted to stay light green and printed the last color, dark green. This exact print cannot be printed again, because by the end you only have the darkest color of the block left to print from. This process is called a suicide block. This process is incredibly time consuming with all the carving and multiple press runs, but incredibly fun and exciting. I personally love the raw, jagged lines. Its almost like a wood cut, but not quite :)
The inside image is made in the same process. You can only barely see the white in this photo (an argument for artists books in person, not online). I printed the red next, then the brown.
In the long process of planning the text, I had the crazy idea I would have this display letter at the beginning of the text. So I had to figure out just how much room to make for this O, what size font to use and just how to place it so it looks optically aligned. I printed the text first. I struggled soo much getting that damn little O in just the right place. But finally I got it right!

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