There had been talk of a Master Class sort of thing with Lisa Rappoport at one of the Co-op Meetings, then this announcement came out:
Special Bookmaking Workshop
We begin our summer/fall classes on Saturday July 30th; a day-long printing workshop with book artist and letterpress printer Lisa Rappoport. Lisa has been producing beautiful work at her Littoral Press for over two decades in the East Bay, and is one of the veteran instructors at the San Francisco Center of the Book. The class will learn how to print a particular form of small book in a variant of the single-page folded book, or maze book. This one is intriguing in that it opens and reads like a standard codex; unfolded, it is revealed to be a single page, with a center cut. The content may be images, text, or a mixture of the two.
Students will typeset a short text (50 words or less for beginners), then plan the sequence of pages by making a dummy. Images from the shop’s extensive collection of printer’s cuts and ornaments can be added, then the booklets will be printed on the Vandercook press. We’ll finish by folding the books and exchanging with fellow students. Everyone takes home 12 copies.
Which sounded a little different from what had been discussed at the meeting, and the picture looked like a form I’d done before, but the time fit in my schedule, and Lisa seemed like one of those people who you’ll learn something from no matter what the actual subject matter of the course is, so I let Eric know I was interested, but if the class filled up from outside interest I didn’t need to take a spot. It turned out that there were 9 of us, with 3 being Co-op members – the thought was the more the merrier, and the Co-opists could help out, and always print another day if necessary.
Even so, it was a little full in the shop, but it was pretty amazing how Lisa and Eric shepherded the group – some of whom were complete beginners(!) through the entire process and got them to finished books by the end of the day. Lisa had a clear template for the set-up on the press, which was awesome. And she’d cut paper to size to end up with a square book. Huh! In the ones I’d done I hadn’t thought of it from the end page size and worked back to the sheet size needed, but started with an existing paper size and ended up with what came from the folding of that.
There were some other neat tips along the way, and it was great to hear Lisa’s story of getting in to printing from a book project with another author – along the lines of It would be great if this were letterpress printed. Oh, that’s going to be expensive. Well, I’ll do it then… And, she’s been at it since 1997. She does a mix of artist’s books, poetry broadsides and commercial work, and also has a subscription series which gives her a chance to do more playful things.
It’s always amazing the variety of things that gets produced in a class like this. One I particularly enjoyed was the story of Fred the Giraffe, which had been written by the student’s 3-year old son. Likewise I always enjoy the chance to be in the shop with natural light, and to spend some time with day crew folks from the Co-op. Quite a lovely day it was.