EVERYTHING IS STARTING
With a three-colour etching by Louise Kohrman
Kat Ran Press, 2002
Designed and printed by Michael Russem at Kat Ran Press.
Published in an edition of 50 copies, of which 4 are deluxes, plus a further 15 not-for-sale standard copies reserved for participants in the production of the booklet.
And so the inevitable has happened: there is a new entry in my Top Ten Books, and one that, if pushed, I’d probably have to say is my favourite volume of all!
I’ve owned a standard copy of this stunning publication for a while now, and that very nearly made it here. It certainly made for an instant stand out addition to my Books of the Moment section. Now, with the arrival of this deluxe copy, Everything is Starting has finally been promoted to my top ten.
Being just one of four copies beautifully bound by master book binder David P. Bourbeau at his Thistle Bindery, this is a rare beast indeed. The colophon and prospectus made no mention of these deluxe copies and I only learned of their existence when reading the entry for Everything is Starting in A Kat Ran Checklist. Although it instantly made my ‘most wanted’ list I never really thought I’d be fortunate enough to happen across a copy. But that is just what happened recently, and now I have one I’m thrilled to bits as it is most special indeed!
But just how special? Well, let me start by talking about the content, ignoring for now the deluxe binding. Being as passionate as I am about fine press makes me most particular when it comes to all things letterpress, and it is actually a seldom occurrence that I find a piece with which I can find very little, or even nothing, to fault. Everything is Starting is one of those rarities. All the elements are exceptional and come together to make for a rare gem of a book. The poem, by an author previously unknown to me, is a brilliantly crafted piece that I’ve read time and time again. The way Eleanor Wilner successfully manages to weave such a broad scope of themes into a poem as brief as this is extraordinary. It makes for a first-rate introduction to her work and I shall be looking into more. Then there is Louise Kohrman’s frontispiece illustration; a gorgeous three-colour etching printed by her from three separate copper plates created using drypoint and spitbite aquatint techniques. The resulting image is almost watercolour-like with its delicate, soft tones. As much as I love the poem, I have to admit that this etching is the highlight of the publication. It is an utterly exquisite piece of artwork that I am most spellbound by.
But to the binding. Now if I’m honest, I have to admit that giving a slight booklet such as this a fine binding treatment is, on face value, somewhat over-the-top. A handful of pages don’t need a hardcover binding, nor the green silk solander box with gold lettered spine label to contain the whole. But then fine press has very little to do with need. This edition is all about the want to create something at its most beautiful, and as such this binding, although unnecessary, is a suitable casement for such beautifully produced content. Besides, it doesn’t actually look over-the-top as the binding is an understated one, with its vellum spine and fore edges and sides of Fabriano Roma handmade paper. The front features a square cutout with a smaller inset label lettered and tooled in gold. Inside, the endpapers are a lovely cream Barcham Green laid paper, with the free front leaf featuring a small device created by the binder for just these deluxe copies. The care and attention to detail that Bourbeau clearly took is exemplary. Even the solander box that the book comes in is particularly well designed and made to the highest quality. It is certainly the finest example of such I own.
The printer of this book, Michael Russem, is a most talented bookmaker, and his typography and design (barring the deluxe binding which was entirely down to Bourbeau) on this edition are first rate. The colour palette, in particular, could not be more to my taste. It is a publication where the very best of all things have been chosen and brought together with no expense or process spared. Yet it has all been done unobtrusively. Despite a clear use of highly skilled, finely executed production techniques using only the finest of materials (the Twinrocker handmade paper is beautiful to the eye and to the touch and takes Russem’s typically clean and crisp impression from freshly cast Centaur type very well), this is a book of understated style. Even in the special binding it still retains a restrained elegance without so much as a hint of garishness. I’m particularly fond of the subtler side of fine press production, and this edition is a benchmark example on my shelves.
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