Book of Days November 14 2013, 566 Comments

My Aunt Iva kept a perpetual calendar for most of her 99 years. She noted births, deaths, weddings, travel, and so many of the significant moments that filled her long life. Her own record inspired me to make a Book of Days, a perpetual calendar book designed to be kept from year to year to record those moments of our own.

When we visited my mom & dad in Iowa in August, I came across Pop Steele's personalized 1969 YMCA pocket calendar. He was my great grandfather, and the proud director of the YMCA at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It looked simple enough: a tiny leather book with his name in gold on the leather cover. A few small lines for each day of the year. The pages of January were filled with simple appointments. Then:

Sunday, February 16: "Marge pass away 2:50 a.m."
Monday 17: "Purchased Flight ticket".
Tuesday 18: "Left for Newark, N.J. Flt 12 United via limosine / Bud [my grandfather Bud] & Fred James met me at airport".
Wednesday 19 (Ash Wednesday): "arranged for Funeral".
Thursday 20: "called several friends, Funeral date & time / snowing"
Friday 21: "Met Captain Bob Steele [my great uncle] at Morristown Hotel / light snow"
Saturday 22: "Marge's Funeral. Boonton, N.J. / many old friends attended. Rockaway & Boonton / helped Bob & Bud shovel / light snow"

I never knew my grandfather's parents. My mom talks about the joy & delight Pop & Mimi brought to her life. But here we are, that week in February when Mimi died. And as far as I can tell my grandfather wasn't there when she died. I read this page and felt like I watched his life change completely.

Along with a few photos, a personalized fountain pen, and some jewelry, these little notes from 44 years ago are what's left for me to know these people, my family. I read these notes and try to see who Carl & Marge Steele - Pop & Mimi - were, how my grandfather felt, how my mom felt, and how families weather these unbearable losses. Without these notes about death and funerals and snowfall and sons and the when and where of it all, I have nothing.

These days, I keep my own Book of Days, with notes just like the ones in Aunt Iva's & Pop's calendars. I'm not always faithful about recording every detail, but I do write things like, "October 2, 2009: Charlotte Willa Campbell-Raw was born at 12:05 p.m." I'm lucky that most of my book is joyous beginnings for now, but there's room for it all. I am happy to have a record, however small, of all of these moments that mean so much to me.

New letterpress broadside: Moby Dick November 12 2013, 0 Comments

Last year, while I printed untold stacks of holiday cards, I listened to the entire 22-hour audiobook of Moby Dick. There was one passage that stuck with me simply because it brought back a sense memory that's so intense: coldness. Melville nailed it; the beauty of coldness is finding warmth even when you are surrounded by it.

“We felt very nice and snug, the more so since it was so chilly out of doors;
indeed out of bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The
more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you
must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is
merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you
are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be
said to be comfortable any more. But if, like Queequeg and me in the bed,
the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why then,
indeed, in the general consciousness you feel most delightfully and
unmistakably warm. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be
furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich.
For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket
between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you
lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.”

Moby Dick letterpress broadside / 9" x 13" / Letterpress & India ink wash with salt

In the '90s our family lived on a farm down in a valley along Indian Creek in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My parents have always embraced challenge and sacrifice, and so it should probably be no surprise that they chose to sleep not in the main part of the house itself, but on the unheated enclosed-but-freezing back porch. Honestly, it wasn't a whole lot warmer inside. But I'm 33 now, and now I get it. Under mountains of comforters in the middle of January they were that one warm spark. I could extend that metaphor in many ways, but the salient point is that we all understand how much more you appreciate the warmth when you've been cold to your core.

I letterpress printed this passage from Chapter 11 of Moby Dick on 100% cotton stock and have made an arc above the passage on each print in the edition–a sky and a horizon, a cold and a warm, a light and a dark–in a wash of India ink. When the ink was still damp, I sprinkled it with salt, creating a resist that leaves a beautiful and unique speckle on each broadside.

2013 is all about patience and experimentation around here. I like the directions it's taking me.

2014 Cyanotype + Letterpress Calendars November 06 2013, 1 Comment

Last year's calendars were so popular that we've reprised the same style and are once again offering a cyanotype + letterpress calendar for 2014. This year's calendars are available exclusively in our shop and from Terrain.

Our 2014 calendar, all wrapped up!

One of the 70 printed and bound calendars

Exposing and drying cyanotypes

I made these cyanotypes this September, hand coating each large sheet of cotton stock with a UV sensitive cyanotype solution. I exposed each sheet for 2-5 minutes in the sun and then stopped the exposure in a water bath. After pressing and drying the sheets flat, I printed the hand lettered 2014 calendar over each cyanotype on our Vandercook 4-T letterpress. Then, I tore the edges of each calendar to leave a feathery deckled edge.

Wet cyanotypes drying / Processing cyanotypes / Finished cyanotype before letterpress printing

The 2014 calendar is handbound as a 4.25" x 11.25" accordion fold book with natural linen/cotton cloth covers that unfolds to 11.25" x 24". It is punched at the top for easy wall hanging. While maintaining the same general composition across all 70 calendars in the edition, each calendar is unique. Queen Anne's Lace along the left side frames in a hand lettered 2014 calendar letterpress printed on 100% cotton stock.

We are proud to once again donate a portion of the sale of each 2014 calendar to the Cure Alzheimer's Fund.

Instagram & Facebook photo albums October 29 2013, 0 Comments

About a year ago I realized all my best photos were on my phone, and most of them were in my Instagram account. The best photos of our daughter, Charlotte, detail shots of new work, and sunstreaked moments from beautiful morning runs were right there...but they were only on my phone. I couldn't hold them in my hands.

This year, I'm excited to launch a new square format accordion fold photo album. These new albums are designed specifically to hold square photos - perfect for your Instagram shots!

Available in an assortment of cover patterns, the albums are made in our classic 5" x 7" size for fourteen 4" x 6" prints, and in our new 5.5" square format that holds fourteen 4" square prints. Social Print Studio makes our favorite high quality Instagram & Facebook prints.

A few of the cover options for our new square Instagram albums!

Choose your album. Choose your photos. Fill it up. Show it off!

P.S. We also carry washi tape now, which is a beautiful way to mount your photos in your brand new album!

A new site! October 22 2013, 0 Comments

Our old site served us faithfully for a number of years but it was time for a fresh start. Apart from the refreshed design, the new site is mobile-friendly so you can finally, finally buy coptic stitched handbound books while waiting in line at the grocery store.

The site is still running on Shopify, so you can rest easy knowing that your transactions are secure.

Click around a bit and let us know what you think—if you spot any bugs, don't be shy! We know the walls are a little bare and there are still a few things we need to move over from the old site. We'll be making a number of improvements over the next few days to get the new house ready for the holidays.

We hope you like it!