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Meet the Presses, Part 2

July 19, 2012 5 comments

Continuing from last week, we now take a look at three more of the exhibitors at Oak Knoll Fest XVII.

Deep Wood Press

While Chad Pastotnik was earning a BFA in printmaking from Grand Valley State University, one of his professors showed his class a book structure. One thing led to the next and in 1992, a few years after graduating, Deep Wood Press was born. Its books and broadsides include some of Chad’s own works, stories and poetry from other present-day writers, and literary classics such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The Deep Wood Press is located on the banks of the Ceder River in Mancelona, Michigan.

Incline Press

As a history teacher in the late eighties, Graham Moss acquired an interest in paper conservation and book repair and in 1990 acquired a small printing press to print labels. Soon after learning about the differences in typefaces and designs, he became inspired to try more. When an Arab press was offered for sale, he bought it, and transformed his backyard shed into a print shop. Since those days, the Incline Press has grown and has published over fifty books. The Inline Press’s latest home is a three-story building from the 1820s located on one of the oldest streets in the heart of Oldham England.

Fine Press Book Association

The Fine Press Book Association was formed by a group of individuals sharing common interests in the art of printing, the matching of worthwhile texts with significant images and artistic expression through the structure of a book. It had its genesis at the 1996 Oak Knoll Fest and had its first official meeting in 1998. That year also marked the release of the first issue of Parenthesis, their journal devoted to fine printing and book-making. Today it has a worldwide membership of those interested in the fine book and contemporary fine printing, and continues to promote the appreciation of fine books and encourage their production.

Meet the Presses, Part 1

July 11, 2012 6 comments

As Oak Knoll Fest XVII draws ever closer, we’re going to take a short look at each of the exhibiting presses, covering about three per week. So without further ado…

21st Editions

21ST Editions started in 1998 as 21ST: The Journal of Contemporary Photography, with the idea to broaden the dialogue of contemporary fine art photography by bringing together a wide variety of modern photographic work with the finest international writers. In 2000 the press expanded its offerings to include fine press, handmade monographs on the work of various photographers to complement its Journal anthologies. In 2009 the press established its Legacy Editions imprint, which surveys the broader horizons of history, art, and culture. 21ST Editions titles have been acquired by museums and special collections libraries from all over the world. They are located in South Dennis, Massachusetts.

Boss Dog Press

An interest in fine printing, sparked by the work of Roy A. Squires, led bookbinder Don Rash to do some letterpress printing when he had the time and equipment available. In 2003 he acquired the press of his dreams and soon after founded the Boss Dog Press. A relatively young press, they have produced one book, Rules for Bookbinders by Fritz Eberhardt, and have several others in the works including a catalog of bookbinding tools and equipment previously owned by Loyd Haberly. They are located located just outside of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Caliban Press

After studying letterpress printing with Red Ozier Press and bookbinding with Timothy C. Ely, Los Angeles native Mark McMurray began printing under the Caliban Press imprint in 1985. Among his books are a narrative poem about one of John Coltrane’s last concerts, shaped poetry written during WWI, an elegy to jazz great Miles Davis, and a light-hearted look at French and English printers in Paris. He now lives in Canton, New York and, when he’s not printing, works as both special collections librarian at St. Lawrence University and as a teacher of book and printing history.

Oak Knoll Fest—Save the Date!

February 29, 2012 1 comment

It’s not too early to mark your calendars for October 5 through 7 for Oak Knoll Fest XVII. Covering various aspects of the fine book in the 21st century, the fest will consist of fine press printer exhibitions, a special symposium, and educational talks by Jerry Kelly and Carol Grossman. It’s sure to be a great time, so we hope you are able to join us!

Registration will open soon. Continue to stay tuned for more information.

Oak Knoll Fest: A New, but Familiar Experience

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment
Sanjay

Sanjay Kulkarni

I’m Sanjay.  I’m a medical student.  But I’m taking some time off from that right now, and while I do, I’m here at Oak Knoll shelving books that need shelving and finding books on the shelf that need finding.  A weekend or two ago, I had the pleasure of working at and attending my first Oak Knoll Fest.  While I am pretty clueless about the world of bibliophilia, something about the fest felt warmly familiar.

Now, besides being an aspiring med student and book shelving technician, I’m also a webcomic writer.  For three years, I have drawn a comic every day and put it on the internet.  In doing so, I became part of a pretty fantastic community of comic writers.  By taking to the web, we can self-publish, explore the form and content of a comic in ways that would be impossible on paper, and reach niche audiences who appreciate it.

And though private presses are celebrating and expanding everything that can be done with print, while webcomics are silently eroding the medium, as I listened to the Sunday speakers, I was struck by similarities.  Martyn Ould’s talk about his misadventures in printing got plenty of laughs about things I don’t understand in the least.  It worked because Oak Knoll Fest brought together like-minded people in the same way the internet does.  While most people wouldn’t understand why dampening certain types of paper before printing on them is a terrible idea (I don’t), that doesn’t matter when you have a room full of private press printers to laugh at such foolishness.  And when Russell Maret talked about finding a perfect marriage of type and content in the face of big commercial presses that don’t get it, it reminded me of the same explorations of comic form that are possible when you ditch the big comic companies.

I only wish there was a webcomic parallel to sneaking to the Thames in the dead of night to dump all your typesetting equipment into a river, forever saving your type from being commercialized.  Amazing.

I had a great time at Oak Knoll Fest.  Most of the time I was sitting in the bookstore, listening to blues music, waiting to help a customer.  I even had time while I wasn’t helping any to draw my comic for the day.  It was a fantastic weekend and my only regret is that I didn’t have more time to get to visit the exhibitors.

Thanks for reading.  Maybe I’ll find a book for you one of these days!

-Sanjay, Book Shelving Technician

Danielle Intern!

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment
Danielle

Danielle Ellis

Hello everyone! As a senior English major at The University of Delaware, I am pleased to be sitting at my first internship desk and writing my first Biblio-Blog entry at Oak Knoll. I’ve only been traveling into Old New Castle for a week, and already I have been exposed to more of the book world than ever before.

Luckily for me, I came in at the most exciting time of the year—Oak Knoll Fest. I had never put much thought into how intricate the process of creating a book could be, but as I witnessed the creativity and the quality of materials used throughout the exhibit hall, I was blown away. I’m so used to reading my favorite stories, like “The Yellow Wallpaper,” in dull, chunky textbooks, and there it was in front of me, a unique and delicate copy of the book with beautiful pages of yellow wallpaper placed throughout. If only every story and its book could be so inspiring.

Although I was reluctant to place my favorite copy of “The Yellow Wallpaper” back onto the table and walk away, I will always look back to it when I think of how beautiful a book can be.

Like the artists and their books displayed at Oak Knoll Fest, I am sure Oak Knoll has a great deal of pleasant surprises and learning experiences in store for me, and I am sure that I will take in and come to love every single one.

I look forward to our time together, Oak Knoll family!

-Danielle, Intern

First Fest Down

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment
Danielle Burcham

Danielle Burcham

Being one of the newest Oak Knoll members, this made Fest XVI my first fest, and what an experience it was! A great experience, of course—with lots of work, lots of books, and lots of people! You could have fooled me that rare and antiquarian books are such a niche market with the large numbers of rare book connoisseurs running from table to table in an effort to see and admire every book on display.

As assigned photographer for the event, I was able to join those crazy book lovers moving from table to table, where I took a photo of each exhibitor standing next to their fine showcase of books. It was such a neat affair to be able to talk to each of the exhibitors, really find out about their work, and feel like I was a part of such an extraordinary event.

Even with as much fun as I had as taking photos and making sure everything went in sequence, still Bob’s party was one of the best events of the weekend. Flowing wine, never-ending appetizers, and the chance to enjoy the beautiful New Castle scenery was every minute splendid.

Check out some of the pictures I took!

Friday Symposium

Fest Exhibitors

Saturday and Sunday Talks and Author Signing

-Danielle, Publishing and Marketing Assistant

Oak Knoll Fest XVI

Oak Knoll Fest XVI

 

Books about Books Part 9: The beginnings of Oak Knoll Fest

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Another new idea for promoting Oak Knoll occurred in the fall of 1994 when we sponsored the first Oak Knoll Fest, using the second floor of the New Castle Opera House (more about this later). We thought that a good way to emphasize our specialty area of books about books and fine press printing would be to host an event that combined speeches, a shop sale, and tables of private press books with their actual printers standing behind the table.

That first Fest attracted ten private press printers. John Randle, the noted English private press owner of the Whittington Press, gave our key-note address on Saturday evening. We have held a Fest every year since and now attract an average of 40 private presses each year to this two-day event. Hundreds of presses have participated over the Fest’s fourteen-year history. The Fests have provided an excellent venue for customers to view our publishing titles and for Oak Knoll to solicit new publishing manuscripts. The Fine Press Book Association was founded by printers sitting in my living room during our Fest and has become the premier organization of private press owners.

Quickly jumping ahead to 2000, I must show you a picture from our Oak Knoll Fest VII in which Gloria Stuart of Titanic film fame came to New Castle. I’m sure that many a publicist would have died for this opportunity. Gloria Stuart had won an Oscar for her role in the 1997 movie Titanic, but not many of her movie fans knew her as a letterpress printer. She came to New Castle this year and “held court” in such a sweet and gentle manner that she captivated the hearts of all who met her. Our publishing sales went up during that Fest!

Bob with Gloria Stuart and Henry Morris at Fest VII

Bob with Gloria Stuart and Henry Morris at Fest VII

We published the seventh edition of ABC and Oak Knoll’s first reprint of Gaskell’s New Introduction to Bibliography in 1995, which completed our trilogy of the three most important bibliographical manuals, which also included McKerrow’s Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students and Bowers’ Principles of Bibliographical Description.

However, there were the beginnings of troubled waters in late 1995. An unfortunate marriage to an American girl had made Paul’s life in America very difficult, so he took a leave of absence and traveled home, and in early 1996, he announced that he had decided to resign and return permanently to England. His resignation left us with a big void to fill. We interviewed many people in hopes of finding just the right person who could fit into our small publishing/antiquarian business (and do the work for as small a salary as possible!). I hired a young man who met these criteria, but he immediately proved the old adage of you get what you pay for. He was a disaster. Meanwhile, Paul had already returned to England. I then interviewed and hired John von Hoelle, one of the great decisions I have made in my life.

Check back next week to hear how the Press fared under “the good ship von Hoelle”!