(Photographs by Michael Jones)
Bernardo Soares was an assistant book-keeper, and one of the things I’ve tried to incorporate into the project is office stationery. This is a carbonless receipt book (Portuguese as it happens, bought from a little stationers yards from the Rua Douradores in Lisbon) which I blind-stamped: “printed” with no ink. From the front it looks more or less unused, open it up and the text is there, in ghostly form.
Top tip if you find yourself doing this: the packing on your press needs to be as hard as you can make it. I expected soft packing to work best (so the type could sink right into the paper) but hard packing meant greater impact between the two leaves, I suppose.
(Photographs by Michael Jones)
Another short section: you could call these giant lollipop sticks if you like but I think it’s more in the spirit of the thing to call them tongue depressers.
The text here is 12 point Bodoni ultra italic, always good to find a use for such a jaunty font. The image is a block bought for pennies at a print fair, I don’t know its origin. I anticipated printing on wood would be very challenging but it behaved like thick, hard cardboard, which is to say it required just the right amount of pressure to make a decent impression – pressing too hard led to the wood smooshing unpleasantly.
The Book of Disquiet is made up of hundreds of (what I call) sections, or fragments, which vary in length from a line or two to three pages or so. This edition will consist of sixty sections. I wish I could tell you that I arrived at that number for some logical – or numerological – reason, but the truth of the matter is that I thought sixty would be enough to be a lot, enough to dip into and find something different each time, but few enough that I had a chance of completing the project!
The process for choosing the sixty – such a small fraction of the total is a fairly brutal abridging job – was a loose one. I re-read and re-read the book, and whittled down the sections I chose according to two factors:
- sections which I loved or enjoyed or found particularly affecting or interesting
- making sure as best I could that some of the key themes in the book are at least covered
I also had to bear in mind that I don’t have any typefaces which have those characters which appear in Portuguese and not English (ã and ç and so on) so I had to keep an eye out for anything which might be spoiled by the substitution of (say) a for ã.
At the time of writing this – March 2016 – I have been working on printing the book for a little more than a year, and I am about halfway through the project. I hope to have completed it in another 12 months. By way of illustration, I recently took a ream box and filled it with the sections I’d done; here’s how it looks:
I reckon you can see twelve sections there, of the thirty I put in the box; I should add that the box we finally use will be nicer than this one, that was just to have an idea of what the end product might look like.
(Photos by Michael Jones)
This is as straightforward as it looks: an eBay find of slides from someone’s holiday (to Scandinavia in the late ’60s); I had to measure and print this very carefully but I’m happy with the results. Each slide has a different image, naturally, which I hope adds to a sense of uniqueness and mystery in the eventual box.
Here’s how this story ends:
Rest of the tale below the cut…
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I love the thought of the little bits and pieces of Bernardo Soares’s thoughts being written across the detritus of an everyday life; some things beautiful and others scrappy and miserable; some things genuinely everyday and others unusual or mysterious. I am not trying to create something that looks like it was made in the 20s and 30s – I’m not sure how I would, certainly without it looking kitschy – but hopefully a little bit out-of-time. I have tried to avoid anything too obviously twenty-first century, too heavily dot-matrix printed or with URLs or email addresses all over it. I can’t really justify that, it just feels the right thing to do.
Selecting materials to print on
I am using a mix of found stuff, everyday bits of paper and so on, and things I am making to be printed on. The tricky thing is finding enough of any given thing to make an edition of 80: I pessimistically assume that I will spoil one in four sections of what I print, which means I need to find a hundred of any given thing, each of the same size and consistency (roughly, at least). This can prove a challenge, but is one of the interesting challenges involved in this whole project. I have found myself, upon entering any given space, looking around to see whether there are any bits of paper which might be useful and available in amounts of 100 or more…!
Here’s how it turned out:
(These photos by Michael Jones)
Recipe for the making below (warning: lots of images).
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