Mission [B.C.]: Barbarian Press, 2000. Quarto, 27.2 x 19.8 cm. Cased in quarter burgundy Japanese silk and printed burgundy paper over boards; the covering paper is decorated with a repeating white line floral pattern engraved in wood by Brender à Brandis. Paper label to the spine, with lettering framed by two vertical double rules printed in burgundy. Pale violet endpapers. Top edges trimmed, others untrimmed. Unpaginated [pp. 84, comprising: pp. 24 of front matter (+ ll. 1, tipped frontispiece), followed by pp. 48 of engravings and pp. 12 of end matter, including a catalogue of Brender à Brandis’ books and exhibitions (+ erratum slip tipped to the recto of the last rear blank)]. A few barely perceptible spots to the paper spine label and top edges (a minor defect observed on other copies of this title); mild fading and discolouration to the foot of the spine; and a few very minor adhesive spots along the upper cover joint. Internally clean and bright. A near fine to fine copy. The text was set in Joanna type, with Libra and Augustea used for display. Zerkall Mill Silurian paper was used for the text matter, while the engravings were printed on Zerkall Book White Wove. From an edition of 200 copies, the present copy being one of 150 copies comprising the regular state. The regular state copies were bound by Rasmussen Bindery Ltd. Inscribed in ink by Brender à Brandis to his father on the half-title: “for Dad, with love, Ger.”. Item #435
“Gerard proved to be the ideal subject with whom to start. He was patient, enormously kind, organized, & willing to give advice. Many engravers never use presses themselves, but ink the block & then use a burin or other implement to rub down the image on to the paper. This means that the blocks they use do not have to be type-high, nor need their surfaces be even. A great advantage of working with Gerard was that he himself printed his blocks on an Albion press, and was therefore able to understand the problems of presswork. This was just as well: his blocks had been sent from Ontario, with its warm, humid summers and cold, dry winters, to the west coast marine climate of British Columbia. They reacted predictably by opening at laminations, warping, & being generally disruptive: wood is a living substance, and reacts to such changes. Gerard was able to suggest a way of closing open laminations so they would not show as white lines through the image: wrapping the block in dampened cloth & placing it overnight in a sealed plastic bag magically closes most checks and laminations. We learned a great deal.” — Jan & Crispin Elsted (Hoi Barbaroi, A25)
“I decided to become a wood engraver one afternoon in either 1963 or 1964— I cannot remember the year, but the moment is otherwise very clear. I was studying the history of fine arts at McMaster University and was in a course on printmaking. As a teenager I had become very interested in things Japanese and had tried woodcut & linocut, but found the inherent coarseness of the media frustrating. Then I had begun to admire etchings. […]
One afternoon the instructor, George Wallace, handed out small blocks of boxwood and a few burins, referring to wood engraving as ‘a rather precious Victorian medium’, and he left us free to do a design of our choice. I did a fern plant in just a few white lines, and shaped the outline of the block into a Roman numeral ‘one’. I thought it a wonderful medium. The directness of cutting the block by hand rather than the chemical process of biting a copper plate with acid was entirely agreeable. The clarity of the impression, and the fact that even the smallest cuts into the block would print, delighted me. And to work with wood rather than metal was a joy. By the end of that afternoon I had decided that I would try to be a wood engraver. […]
Some years ago I visited the cathedral at Chartes & there, high on the capital of a column, was a carved representation of a craftsman working at a lap-desk. Beside him, on the wall, is a little rack of tools that look like burins. The intentness of this bent figure reminded me so much of my own attitude at work that I felt as if I had met my former self, my twelfth-century incarnation. I was able to buy a photograph of this sculpture at the cathedral shop, and this photograph hangs in my studio today. It is this awareness of myself as a member of a tradition that is the main wellspring of my creativity. My subjects may come from the events of my daily life or from the results of research, but my reason for going on from block to block comes from the knowledge that, wherever or whenever I happened to be born, this is what I was meant to do.” — Gerard Brender à Bandis, An Affair with Wood, Ink & Paper.
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