I am entranced by the physical manifestation of bookness: the graphical presence and interaction of the text and imagery on a page, the subtle and overt messages that emanate from the words and images, the choice of paper substrate, the traditional or innovative binding structure, the marriage of cover art to content, and the potential integration of all the aspects of the book.
When I was young, I loved drawing letterforms and writing with a dip pen. When I finished my M.A. in mathematics in 1971, I took my first calligraphy class at UCLA Extension. I started collecting in 1974: a calligraphic piece in gold leaf by Donald Jackson, Queen Elizabeth’s Scribe, with whom I was studying. I started purchasing directly from the maker when possible, so I have calligraphic works, fine bindings, finely printed books, and I collect pages from medieval and early printed books.
When I quit my job in 1980 to get my M.F.A. at UCLA, I studied fine printing with Andrew Horn, paleography with Dr. Rouse, and designed books for University of California Press. Starting in 1986, I taught for thirty years at the Scripps College Press, so I have all sixty of those books in my collection.
Tim Ely. New York: Self-published (one of a kind), 1991.
Tim Ely is a remarkable artist bookmaker and a skilled draughtsman who has made magical books using his own code system for over forty years. I invited him to the Scripps College Press to give a workshop for the Goudy Lecture Series. He was always sketching; when I saw the “impossible bindings” sketches in his journal, à la Escher, I asked if he would make a book for me: the first book I ever commissioned.
Donna Westerman. Newport Beach: Self-published (edition of 40), 2006.
Donna Westerman is a consummate artist and printmaker who taught at Orange Coast College for thirty-two years. She particularly is drawn to natural imagery, as shown in this remarkable wood engraving of the skeleton of a whale found in the San Juan Islands. Her daughter Johie took the first class that I taught at the Scripps College Press in the fall of 1986; inspired, her mother took the class as an auditor the next semester.
Shakespeare, In Heaven and Helle.
London: Ann Hechle, calligrapher (one of a kind), 1976.
My first course in illumination and gilding was with Donald Jackson, Queen Elizabeth’s Scribe, in 1974. Donald and I arranged a two-week-long class with Ann Hechle and Wendy Gould in London for 1976, which was attended by 30 calligraphers, the first “calligraphy tour.” Ann Hechle is a major figure in calligraphy, known for her artworks which explore the deep meaning of texts. The exquisite calligraphy in gouache is on calfskin vellum with raised gold lettering.