Ever Wondered How Books Are Made? Some of Rose's Arrival 2018...
(Currently working on uploading the book production videos for Clunk & Jam second edition 2019.)
First stage of going to print is to check and sign-off on the proof sheets provided by the printer. Things like image clarity, placement, page order etc are carefully poured over. Once this is done the printer makes the aluminium printing plates (below).
Unlike digital printing (using a powder that is heat set 'onto' the surface of the page like photocopying), offset printing uses real ink (which soaks 'into' the page). Good printers use environmentally sound vegetable based ink and it's this ink that creates the delicious sniff factor book lovers nuzzle into.
Rose begins her 'time travel' through the big offset printing press.
The first sheets off the press are for testing purposes and are re-fed back in through the press as we work up to desired ink saturation levels. Mechanical 'feet' feed the paper in.
At the other end I work with Glenn and John to push the ink levels up to achieve the rich depth of black which is Rose's signature dress code. John and Glenn have spent their lifetime printing - it's their passion and a privilege to work so hands-on with them both. The printing begins!
Throughout the entire printing process Glenn continually pulls sheets from the press and runs them through a scanner to check that an even distribution of ink is consistent over the entire page. He also looks for any smudging or marks.
A very noisy process.
Rose comes to rest quietly on the pallet to dry.
With one side of the paper printed and dried, it's time to turn the page - giving a very new meaning to the term. In the 'olden days' this of course, was done by hand. Once both sides of the page have been printed, the pages are left to dry for a day or two.
With internal pages drying, next step is printing Rose's cover. The cover was printed on an older, smaller style offset printing press operated by Mike, who has been printing for 33 years.
The other row of Roses on the cover pages was the clever idea of John to make use of the excess edge space on the specialty stock to make bookmarks - reducing paper wastage.
Guillotining, folding and binding still to come ....
2012/2013 Wisdoms of Rose
She begins to come to life on the page - and then she pours ....
Rose began to arrive on my page late 2012. Initially the images arrived along with a short string of words. Then another voice line emerged which, on reading, sounds much like a dream school report. At the time, Mum had been Spring cleaning and found my old school reports. They were littered with ... 'poor effort', 'Janine is easily distracted'; 'needs to concentrate more', 'very disappointing results this term', 'has not handed in homework set for her', 'is working way below the required level' etc, etc. So I think this may have sparked the offbeat out-pour of report like stories that support and value qualities in ourselves often not given credit to.
December 2012 Robin Small
Robin began arriving on my page a few days after Christmas 2012. Think I was feeling alot of apprehension and anticipation about the year ahead. So I began to sketch in a very light, barely there way and this sublime boy began to emerge. Then slowly, over a period of a few weeks, 5 more arrived. He has a Robin Hood quality about him, perhaps due to my love of this ancient crusader.
2011/12 Clunk & Jam
I created Clunk & Jam over a period of 3 years. At the time I wanted to create something that brought elements of all my work together in one place. All of the poetry and stories in the book have been typed on an old typewriter. The name 'Clunk & Jam' represents the sound of the typewriter and a poem I wrote about it... "Through the Clunks & Jams and carriage returns of the dusty old beast that rides my desk. I slap silence with letters on waving arms. Clunking out truth on a black rubber roll, as jams slow the rush, and errors have a say". I like the fact that you can't erase mistakes using an old typewriter. It also makes the 'writing' engaging and interesting.
Initially I made some home printed copies and bound them using wing nuts spray painted flat black. From here it evolved and was printed, bound and published locally in Western Australia. Here's some of that process ....
Pictured are the pre-press proof sheets from the printer hanging up for checking prior to going to print.
The book was printed using a method called 'offset printing' by a local printing company. The paper is raw, toothy, uncoated and recycled and goes by the name of 'Stephen'.
The ink used is soy based and we used the maximum ink saturation to create the rich inky effect. Using so much ink means the pages require a few days drying time before going back through the printing machine to print on the reverse side. During the drying time they are wrapped to keep the dust off. The paper comes through the machine landing straight onto a pallet (pictured) which is then moved around using a forklift. Each page contains about 12 individual pages so after printing, the pages require guillotining - done using a computerised machine with a massive blade that cuts through thousands of pages at a time.
Then the machine vibrates and shakes the sheets on a tray to remove any air trapped between the pages and pushes the edges together before cutting - a big version of shuffling a pack of cards.
The book is bound with a traditional method known as, 'section sewn'. It's the strongest form of binding where the pages are grouped and folded together, (by 'real' people too which was a nice surprise) - then thread sewn so can you see and feel the thread in the fold...
Below you can see how the individual sections are bulldog clipped above the sorting machine so the folding people can ensure each book contains all the sections.
Then the book moves on to the sewing part ....
Although it's done by a machine, a craftsman who's spent a lifetime in the bookmaking business watches over every step of the way ....
Below, the sections picked up by the machine and moved along the 'saddle' ....
...and the books come out the other end together in blocks below. From here the blocks are separated into individual books and the covers are glued on.
Usually glue is applied to the spine and a cover is 'drawn on', wrapping around the spine. But I wanted the sewing work to be left uncovered as a point of interest, to show its making. This meant the front and back cover had to be printed separately, folded and individually hand glued onto the front and back of the book. Not having a wrap around cover also allows the book to open more freely and open out flat (so you don't have to wrestle with the book to keep it open). Easier for displaying your favorite page or writing on it like a journal which is why each page is accompanied by a blank page throughout the book.
2007/2013 Rock The Boat (A very slow boat)
Rock the Boat is a beautiful handmade book full of 23 Army of Ink characters and their stories. These characters began to arrive after I'd published my first book, 'In My Room', a personal memoir. But I discovered, telling your truth....rocks the boat. So the characters helped me hold on to my truth - despite all the turmoil going on around (and within) me.
Making books and book bags.
The book is handwritten by a good friend. This came about from meeting a young girl who had stopped writing because she'd been told how messy her writing was and how bad her spelling was. I thought her writing was beautiful. It was a perfect fit for the 'inks' and their delightfully defiant stories. And I thought it conveyed a healthy message to encourage others to write despite the fear of it. So I asked her if she'd kindly hand-write the stories for me.
Over a period of a couple of years we'd meet in parks, libraries, cafes and a friend's farm. I'd bring the stories I'd written, along with paper and ink pens - and she'd write. I think the slowness of this process helped nurture the book into its current form. You can really feel the preciousness in it. And a great friendship developed through this too. It was a very special time creating 'Rock The Boat'.
To hand make the book, each page is printed, folded, trimmed and gently glued to form a loose layer effect - air was important. This also means each page opens with no gap in the centre, so the words can flow across the middle uninterrupted - also important. Structurally, this allows the book to open flat on each page - easier to read and display this way.
I use clothes pegs to hold pages together while drying - depending on weather. Winter requires pegs - Summer not.
Each book is numbered for cataloguing and date stamped on the day it was made.
This particular page is typed on an old typewriter so you can feel the braille like texture of the print on the reverse of the page...