~ Zōzan ~
Nearly a year ago I wrote a blog post alluding to a project I was working on with artist and writer Ian Tadashi Moore. Ian had contacted me in late 2014 asking about the feasibility of letterpress printing an illustrated children's book. Letterpress, as some of you probably know, is a labor intensive process with high materials costs, so producing an entire book, which was also meant to be hand bound, can be prohibitive on many levels.
I really enjoyed my email chats with Ian, however, and I immediately believed in his project and wanted to figure out how I could help. We discussed multiple options, including using only small sections of letterpress on an otherwise digitally printed book (though digital printing didn't seem all that appealing), or reducing the scale and scope of the project (which didn't feel right). Somewhere in our discussions I decided to contact an offset printer I knew of through a friend, and a new path was hewn. Charles at Eberhardt Press gave us hope that a larger, more affordable edition could be produced, using real ink, not toner! In turn, the larger, more affordable edition could help subsidize a small letterpress edition with a handmade hard case binding.
Thus began Ian's dedicated process to finish his book, which I could tell was drawn directly from his heart and was sweetly inspired by his two young sons. Through this process, the book grew from being a short series of illustrations and a Japanese folk poem, to a fully developed tale written by Ian, inspired by the poem. I wrote a little about it last spring.
Almost exactly a year after Ian initially got in touch with me, the final letterpress printed pages came rolling off my press. My margin of extra sheets was small, so I packed every single one in a box to ship to Ian, who in turn shipped them off to the binder. For this reason, I never got many good shots of the finished prints. Early November, when I finished printing, was crunch time for me, setting up shows and printing production work for sales, that it took all of my concentration to do good work and get it out the door on time that I took very few shots in progress.
Throughout the next few months, Ian would post updates on the progress of the bindery, and I could see that the finished product would be beautiful. I was so envious of the lucky recipients who had contributed to the Kickstarter campaign to receive their own copy.
And then, just last week, I got the most beautiful surprise in the mail. Look! My very own copy of both the offset and letterpress edition. I nearly cried. This book, in its whole, complete form, is exquisite. The bindery by Windy Weather Bindery is perfect, and so perfectly suited to the story.
As an extra act of making this book the most special thing ever, Ian watercolor painted end sheets for each individual book. They are beautiful.
Also, I'm happy to report that Ian is busy working on his next project, which I'm sure will be every bit as amazing as Zōzan!