Category Archives: Book Arts

First Hundred Sheets for The Natural History of Raleigh

Above are the first hundred sheets of ONE THOUSAND I will eventually make for the covers of my new book, The Natural History of Raleigh, which will arrive from the printer soon and be out by Mid-November 2018. The sheets are made of high quality scrap and cotton linters, with bits of dried oak leaves suspended in the pulp.

The sheets are 12 1/2 by 20 inches, formed on wove screens of medium coarse silkscreen. I use two screens for extra draining time before couching (laying off on to the wet felt) each sheet.

When I’ve got a stack of a dozen or more between felts, I slide my hands under the stack and lift it into my big press, which is framed by 4×4 lumber and powered by the lovely jack you see (another story sometime). After a good sqeeze and another later, the sheets are ready to lay on boards – or in this case, washed glass.

They dry with the pieces of dehydrated oak leaves down on the glass, which makes that outside cover surface extremely smooth and perfect for printing. Each sheets uses up a good sprinkle of oak leaves and I add pulp and fresh oak leaves between each sheet. I pick a batch of dark un-scarred leaves, sandwich them between screens in a 105 degree dehydrator for a couple of hours, then shred the pieces with my fingers. The project will require many, many pieces of oak leaves.

The Natural History of Raleigh will be published by The Paper Plant Press and includes over 30 line drawings by me, the author. I have worked on this book for over a decade and can’t wait to share it with you!

Folded cover with letterpress block for back

Cover with scored spine and polymer block for front

The finished project is HERE!

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Making Wasp Nest Paper for E. Lily Yu

My friend Richard Butner runs a science fiction conference every summer just an hour north of me and last summer he brought a prominent up-n-coming SF writer, E. Lily Yu, to meet me and see the Paper Plant studios. She was very intrigued by the collection of wasp nests in my display of fiber materials, and I explained that the wasp was truly the first papermaker. When I investigated her online writings, I discovered the reason she was so interested in the wasp nests – her story entitled “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees.” I emailed her, saying I would probably make some wasp nest paper soon, and she asked me to letterpress print the first line of the story on some of it for a museum exhibit she was helping to curate.

E. Lily Yu at the Wing Luke Museum. pic by Amanda Chen

The show, at the Wing Luke Museum, is called Worlds Beyond Here, and runs through October 2019. I have already been inspired to make a different kind of hand-laid paper piece for Ms. Yu, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading her work. I’ll keep you apprised!

DIY Intro to a Sinewed Monster – blank book project

I created a book celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s publication of Frankenstein for a show at Asheville Bookworks.

The inside has pockets with body parts exemplifying major systems.

Asheville Bookworks show info here.

Book Arts Display at Asheville Library

It was an honor and pleasure to provide a display window full of objects, images and information about the art of making books for Buncombe County’s North Asheville library, where I am a regular patron.

Papermaking, letterpress printing and bookbinding were all featured, with interesting specimens of the final product.

A special love of mine is books as objects of art, and several examples were on display.

All posts on Bibliophilia

Screenprinting Again After 30 Years

Meander prints

Screenprinting is easy and my kind of slightly crude; it was the first printing process I used on my hand-laid papers in Greensboro in 1977-78. The last screenprint I did was in 1983, when GG and I screened an image for some anti-war group she was part of.  Now I have screenprinted a souvenir to hand out at the Black Mountain College conference in Asheville.  The theme of the conference is craft, and my image is a detail from Anni Albers’ fabric artwork entitled Red Meander.  Her work,in turn, is based on an ancient motif that appears on early pottery around the world.

after Red Meander by Anni Albers.  silkscreen on hand-laid paper.

after Red Meander by Anni Albers. silkscreen on hand-laid paper.

To make this, I blew up the original image (from the book  Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay, by Christopher Benfey) until the lines were about an inch thick.  then I darkened the dark areas and taped the image to the underside of a silkscreen.  I cut roughly one inch strips of masking tape and filled in the dark areas I saw through the screen with lines of the tape.  All this flipped and reversed the areas of print, but with the meander, that doesn’t really matter!

Meander screenand inks

I picked up some red screen printing ink at Askew-Taylor’s and added a little aquamarine and yellow to get the brick red I wanted. I had whipped out 50 extra sheets of our hand-laid 6×9 card stock over the weekend. Laying the sheet on a registered spot (with a new scrap larger sheet under each lay), I then set the corners of the silkscreen on register corners and lay it on the paper.  Spooning a generous dose of ink along the top line, I pulled my blade tool over the screen, running the print (which was slightly larger than my sheet) to the edge of the paper.  Lift, separate, and lay to dry.  There is a letterpress credit on back done with our small brass stamper.

Meander page ready to print

Meander screen printing

I look forward to more screen printing as my new schedule allows for some projects like this one.  And three cheers for Black Mountain College and the amazing presence it continues to have in the arts of our land!

pulling a Meander

credit

Mark the New Year with a Good Book!

library entranceway

John Dancy-Jones had the honor of providing the lobby display this month for Cameron Village Library, showing his large collection of bookmarks.

bookmark display

These bookmarks were collected over a lifetime of book gathering, both personally and as bookseller in downtown Raleigh for ten years. Many famous bookstores and authors are represented, but you can find unusual objects that served as bookmarks as well.  Some seem to tell a story.  There are miniature books on display as well.

bookmarks and minature books

Children's side of bookmark display

Children’s side of bookmark display

book beautifulMany of the bookmarks cherish or celebrate reading and books.

statue and bookmarks

Mark the new Year with a Good Book!

Mark the new Year with a Good Book!

New line – mini collage books

These little books have 10 same-sided sheets inside – 40 pages!  these collage covers are by John (larger book covers are done by Cara) Enjoy!

(click to enlarge)

These books are available for $15 plus shipping.  Order here.  Or catch us at the Boylan Artswalk Dec 2nd.

Our blank books at Etsy

See all blank book posts.

Book Arts Display Project

I put together a book arts display for the local library and was able to show it at my school as well.  Pictures below.

Above is the display at Cameron Village Regional Library in Raleigh, NC.  Below are images from a similar display at The Fletcher Academy in Raleigh.

 

John Dancy-Jones Book Arts Biography

contact John at paperplantpress@yahoo.com

 

Having developed a large book collection and an intense interest in books, I went to work at UNC-G’s Jackson Library in 1977.  As adminstrative assistant my time was flexible, my activities highly varied.  I gravitated to the Special Collections Department, headed by Emmy Mills, and became friends with Charles Adams, Library Director Emeritus.  Dr. Adams taught me how to use the Washington Press owned by the department and encouraged my early papermaking experiments.  By the end of 1977, I was producing good quality recycled papers and had ordered my first press – a versatile flatbed with high and low block positions, a type chaise, and a forgiving hard rubber roller.

My papermaking developed out of a backyard project with my first wife, Nora.  we used screens from her silk screen course and dried the sheets right on the screens.  I was immediately captivated by the possibilities. Early on, most of my paper was board or glass dried – essentially an Asian technique.  I contacted numerous paper mills in North Carolina, sending them samples of my paper and inviting input.  Several answered back and sent large samples or scraps of various felt materials. I obtained lye and worked with some natural materials, but settled on developing a process for making utilitarian printmaking paper out of high quality scrap.I began ordering cotton linters, building equipment, and building up stock. I bought a laid mould from Bartram & Green in England for 35 pounds.   About this time, I ordered fonts of 10 and 18 point type – Palatino, Stemple type from Germany (ordered from NYC).  I prepared to do some serious letterpress projects.

In 1980, I left Greensboro and Jackson Library to return to Raleigh and get into the bookstore business. I managed one for two years, then bought their shelves when they closed and opened The Paper Plant in downtown Raleigh, NC in 1982.  Used books in the front, papermaking and letterpress in the back. Over nearly nine years, The Paper Plant became an unofficial book arts center and a home for Raleigh’s alternative arts as well. Early in its history, I picked up a Kelsey 3×5 letterpress from a local print shop who had used it with a tiny mechanical matrix to print numbers and emboss serration on to football tickets!  Once The Paper Plant was established as a community resource, the studio gained a wide variety of press equipment and type.

Starting in 1983, I edited and published a series of broadsides, folders, and chapbooks, mostly involving the local writers emerging in our open mike series.  After The Paper Plant bookstore clsoed in 1990, I established residential studios for most (but not all) of the book arts equipment I had amassed.  In 2001, I culminated my use of those studios with the production of Snapper, a book physically produced by the author.

author’s personal bio

my book arts display at Cameron Village Library