Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Arts: Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France, besides being the capitol of the European Union, has a wonderful history relating to crafts and craft guilds, which includes a strong connection to Johannes Gutenberg. Gutenberg lived in Strasbourg for a time, and is commemorated in various ways:

Here is a statue of Gutenberg that resides in the Place Gutenberg:

The decorations on the statue were very interesting. They focus on the symbolic value of the printing press -- how it opened up a world of music and literature and ideas:

In the historic centre of Strasbourg, I visited the Palais Rohan, which houses the Decorative Arts Museum, Fine Arts Museum and Archaeological Museum:

There are some finely worked bindings made by local craftspeople there, including this one made by Johannes Beck in 1731:

After stopping off for a bit of refreshment at a wonderfully mad little cafe full of birds (artificial) and fairy lights.....

....I went on to the Strasbourg historical museum, located at 2 rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons.

They have information about Gutenberg's time in Strasbourg, and about the history of printing in the city. Strasbourg had a number of printing establishments in the early days of the printing press. There are also some beautiful books from the late 1400s on display:

If you know of any other interesting book arts-related places to visit in Strasbourg, do feel free to share them in the comments.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mini Halfwood Press

I bought a Mini Halfwood etching press a while back, and am really loving it. The bed of this little press is 6" x 16." I'm planning to use it to make miniature books, so it's just the right size for me. I've had huge fun using it, and I must confess I've gotten embarrassingly attached to the little beast -- almost to the point of giving it a name. I haven't done it yet. But.

Printmaker Bill Ritchie invented the Mini Halfwood, as well as other tabletop presses. He says on his website that he wanted his presses to have the feel of a sailing ship interior, and his presses are wonderfully elegant looking, as well as functional.

I've been playing around with different tools to see what kind of drypoint marks they make. Above is one of my scribblings, printed on the Mini Halfwood using Arches 88 paper. I've found that some of my bookbinding awls make interesting lines.

Below, I printed the same plate on handmade paper: