The Making of Caterpillar Portraits
In February 2017 a collaborative project began that would grow into an exciting and enduring creative venture: Penrose Press.
Brianna pitched the idea to Joyce first: let's make a book. You'll write. I'll illustrate and... make the book. It'll be awesome. And Joyce thought that that would be pretty okay. Then there was a grant available through the Ada Slaight Committee and things got serious. Brianna reached out to Egor to handle the digital design, luckily he was a pro and completely on board. The trio got their grant in excess of what they had requested. The stars were aligning and one piece was left to fall into place. The story was nearly finished and had oodles of potential. There was only one person to bring it out and make it shiny: enter Natalie, editor extraordinaire.
Joyce and Natalie laughed and cried through numerous late-night editing sessions while Brianna got to work on the images. The production was very traditional. Brianna's arsenal consisted of a Vandercook Proof Press No. 4, a book press made by her wonderful father, and sheer obstinate determination to make something beautiful. It was a pretty good arsenal. The illustrations were all carved from linoleum and printed off the same blocks, one at a time. 16 images on 8 blocks x 2 layers each x an edition of 100 plus extras for misprints = roughly 1800 impressions split between OCADU and Open Studio Vandercooks. The book cover production was executed with the help of Working Title Press, a summer residency at OCADU. Each cover was marbled and dried, and torn and repaired, and printed, and embossed, and printed, and printed, and embossed again.
In the meantime, Egor had taken Natalie and Joyce's carefully constructed sequence of words and poured it into a beautiful digital mould. He made sure the fonts for the English and Korean words were just right and made margins, page numbers, tables of contents as if by magic (never-mind the pagination).
Natalie printed out the polished manuscript and she, Brianna and Joyce inserted 452 illustrated pages into as many signatures. 3 616 awl punches and many yards of thread later. 113 books had been sewn (100 for the main edition and 13 extras for artist and studio proofs). Each book was then glued along the spine for support and was sealed with a one-of-a-kind cover.
The next day (or seven months later) was the launch. Our book team was welcomed into Crimson Teas, Toronto and we celebrated with everyone we knew and had met over the course of the project. It was a good thing that all of the books had been finished because they sold out half-way through the second day. We did something right.
So Brianna and Natalie are taking their half of the profits and doing it all over again for as many times as we can. We're looking for more authors whose work is as inspiring as Joyce's because we're passionate about this and we just can't stop.
by Brianna Tosswill
(as if the numbers didn't make it obvious)
Micropublishing Blog by Brianna and Natalie of Penrose Press