During the summer of last year, you probably remember a lot of posts about the book that I was producing with Cat Snapp, a close friend, book artist, and printmaker. We are finally ready to release the book to the public tomorrow (yay!) and with that, all the information about how it came to be made. Today's post will cover starting the project through the residency stage, and give you a little background into how Cat and I worked. We will also be sharing more photos of the process!me and Cat at Frogman's, 2012
I first met Cat while I was in graduate school at the University of South Dakota in a very small town called Vermillion. Every summer, my school hosted the Frogman’s Print and Paper workshops, and Cat was there one year with her beautiful prints and artist books. I immediately loved the intimacy and secrets that they seemed to at once present yet deny. I worked with the same kinds of topics, so when Cat saw my prints, she recognized and understood the work I made. We formed a kinship over our similar ideas, and when Cat said, “Why aren’t you making books?” I simply shrugged. I had no answer for this really wonderful concept.
Over the next few years, Cat and I would keep in touch as she graduated from the University of North Texas and I eventually finished my MFA and moved back to San Antonio, Texas. She ended up moving to the Pacific Northwest, though she has family and friends here in Texas. In the summer of 2014, I drove up to see Cat and chat with her while she was in Austin for a visit. While we talked and caught up, we discussed the idea of collaboration on a project together. Ever since Cat put the thought in my head back in graduate school, I wanted to see how a book would look if we made it together, especially as we had individual styles yet similar feelings about nature and spirituality.
In our preparations for this collaborative project, we discussed how our overlapping interests brought about the need for a small book, full of meditative drawings and internal thoughts on nature. The ideal way to bring our voices together was the creation of a collaborative book. I remember being at first excited about mimicking the idea of a nature book or field book, yet using this project as something like a guide for the world. The collaboration with Cat allowed me to open up my personal writing to someone else for the first time and to enjoy the challenge of making my intimate thoughts more concrete.first ideas I sent to Cat in a mockup, 2014
In December of 2014, Cat was in Texas to visit family for the holidays, so we reserved an entire day of her trip just for studio and collaboration time. Drawing, sharing, and working on the same problems in the same place helped us make great strides. Though brief, we accomplished a lot, and decided to apply for a residency to further our time together to finish to project. We were awarded two weeks to create the book at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio during the summer of 2015. Before the summer arrived, we continued to send each other drawings or mock-ups back and forth, chat online, and use online document sharing programs in order to prepare for the residency.working with Cat in my studio, December 2014
Cat and I kept a calendar of all the work that needed to be completed by certain dates in order to maximize our production schedule once we began our residency. We needed to have a lot of images created and finished quite quickly in order for Cat to vectorize them and turn them into polymer plates ahead of our residency time. We also knew early on that the look of typewritten text was important to us, so I needed to service my 1959 Smith-Corona Galaxie typewriter and make sure it was in proper working order. Cat sent ahead a lot of supplies that she has from being a book artist, including papers that we ordered and she pre-cut on her large paper cutter.
Our residency began in July of 2015, but Cat arrived a few days early so that we could work in my home studio on preparation for production, including finalizing the text and preparation of the bookboards. I will forever associate the song “This Is How We Do It” by Montel Jordan
with our sessions of cuttings text blocks out of our writing and images, making up our mock up for the book. Everything that we had been planning for was starting to come together!creating the first mock up
In the studio, we began by figuring out colors for the different parts of our book, including some really lovely endpages. Cat mixed colors while I took apart the mock-up and sorted out measurements for each page to type it by hand. Fossils & Whispers has alternating translucent and opaque pages, so the images and text on each page interacts with adjacent pages. It was important that Cat and I worked together on images and text to make sure that each page coordinated exactly as we had planned in our mock up, which we jokingly referred to as “the bible” during this process. As I typed, Cat set up plates on the Vandercook and printed the images, and we worked back and forth over the next week to finish all the printing and typing by our target.sorting out colors to test for platesCat testing a split fountain for an important imageour all important mock up!
Once the pages were finished and stacked, we checked them all for quality and consistency. We then went through and began collating stacks into text blocks. This was one of the most exciting times for me, because we were about to transform flat prints into dimensional objects. Over the next few days, I followed Cat’s lead on a lot of these new experiences, as I had only ever made a few books before, and never editioned anything so brilliant. We sewed book blocks, created covers and insets, and finally glued the book blocks into the covers. This was really an anxious experience after all the work we had done, but after drying overnight, the books turned out great!final assembly of book blocks into the covers
Tomorrow, both Cat and I will publish posts with more specifics about the book, including what kind of paper it's printed on, what size it is, and our statement for its purpose. Read Cat's posts here!