Monday, February 20, 2012

Rare Book Summer School: 4

I left you hanging there, didn't I?

You know, we worked so hard last week, and everyone achieved what we set out to do: print an edition of letterpress poetry broadsides in essentially 4 days. I was so happy on Friday night, and then started fading on Saturday. By Sunday I was home and transformed into a floppy pile of lacklustre. I managed to drag myself to a movie, purely to chaperone Bumblebee and his new GIRLFRIEND, and I also managed to mostly get myself together to prepare for my first uni class of the year, but it was all like swimming in porridge.

Today, I am much better. I had my second class of the year, because YAY, my typography course is running! Tomorrow, with a sleep-in, I'll be tip top.

The Rare Book Summer School class was a wonderful experience, predominantly because it was full of people who knew enough to be able to contribute to the week in their own way -- this is usually the case in my classes, because I always frame the class as a 'pool of knowledge' rather than a teacher/student pyramid. So we pooled our experience, discussed things equally, and as much as they listened to me, I listened to them and we all learned.

At the beginning of the week we were told about the last Melbourne summer school on 2010 (they are on every year, but they alternate between NZ and Australia) when Carolyn Fraser of Girlprinter and Idlewild Press fame taught the letterpress component. The class set a complete short story as a book, and one of the participants, the equally famous wood-engraver Rosalind Atkins, carved a block for them, and they had so much to do that by the time the end-of-school reception was held on the Friday evening, the class turned up an hour late, hot and sweaty, clutching one still-damp copy of the book to show the rest of the RBSS.

We all laughed at this admiringly, and joked that if we finished on time, we should go to the pub and still turn up an hour late, pretending to be stressed and clutching our wet prints.

So imagine our shock to find at the end of Friday that even though we'd finished, and we'd pretty much cleaned up, that we were still collating and folding a 'belly-band' for the folio at 6:15pm! The reception was to be at Kay Craddock's antiquarian bookshop in Collins Street, and we were at least half an hour away by train and foot at the Monash Caulfield campus. Our programme said that it started at 6.30, but someone mentioned that they'd heard it was starting at 6pm! Eek!

We gathered ourselves and our wet prints, ran for the train, charged up Swanston Street and into Collins Street, and rushed, hot and sweaty, into the cool elegant bookshop where everyone was swanning around in a clean we've-been-looking-at-rare-books-with-academics-o-wot-fun sort of way, clutching our folio of brand new wet prints. Only to find that no-one believed we'd come straight from the studio and instead they made jokes about coming from the pub! GAH.

There we are, caught at the hot sweaty apologetic moment, with me clutching the prints. (That lovely tall man on the left is the epic Robert Heather, who not only works at the State Library of Vic but also administrates Artist Books 3.0.)

Serves us right for being cocky, eh?

There are lots more photos here at flickr, and I'm hoping the others will upload their photos too.

Many, many thanks to everyone who stayed and played, and also to Des Cowley, Librarian and Superhero. It was great fun.


PS: Sandy blogged about her RBSS experience too. She not only did my course, but also one before mine on artist's books. What a great two weeks! She's slowly putting together her own letterpress studio, and my small contribution (besides the training) was to spot a gorgeous and clean type cabinet for her in a second-hand shop in Fitzroy on Saturday. She haggled with the owners and now it's hers! Huzzar!


Elephant's Child said...

My goodness. Exhausting. Exhilarating (or however its spelt). No wonder you were fading. What an amazing week. And congrats on the typography course.

Julie Russell-Steuart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Russell-Steuart said...

Hilarious! Guess you got your comeuppance. (I like to use words that have largely retired or never heard of in my small Midwestern town, but I know I'm preaching to the choir here!)