The submission date for the Grimsby Wayzgoose signature is looming – and it seems with each passing day, I’m cranking more desperately. An intensive session on the press this weekend has yielded some good results, and a few hard lessons (more on that later!). For now though, I can report that I’m nearly finished, with only the covers left to print. In the meantime, I’m taking a few moments away from the press to reflect and to take stock.
The project is a little tale called Entre Deux Saisons by Richard St-Laurent, a writer from Val-Joli, Quebec, whom I had the pleasure of meeting only last summer, a few months after I first heard his story read by Carole Trahan on Radio-Canada’s Éspace Musique. It was a cold and windswept morning in March last year, and I was driving through a very bleak-looking countryside east of Ottawa. The ice-huts on the frozen Ottawa River were starting to take on the lopsided tilt typical of the end of winter: the river slowly starting its long thaw. The temperature that morning in March was deceptively cold. The flurries turned to freezing drizzle – and as I drove along the river road, I became convinced that Spring would simply never arrive. With the end of a classical musical piece, Mr. St-Laurent’s tale seemed to match the mood and the moment perfectly.
I was struck by its simple eloquence, the sympathy of the characters – and intrigued by the personification of Spring itself, a liquor-soaked ne’er-do-well whose current hangover imperilled the very arrival of Summer. His crankishness appealed to me on several levels.
I knew that this short, lovely story would make the perfect project for a Wayzgoose submission – and with the assistance of Radio-Canada, I contacted M. St-Laurent to request his permission to print his fable. We exchanged a few emails and I was delighted to have made his acquaintance – and to have his permission to print Entre Deux Saisons.
And so planning – and learning – began in earnest: my house font is Caslon, and I knew I needed a set of French diacritics (ordered from M & H type). Will Reuter (Aliquando Press) shared his knowledge and suggested Strathmore Writing as a good basic commercial paper for a starter project. As for ink, I was thrilled to learn about Caligo SafeWash inks – an environmentally friendlier alternative to rubber-based inks. (My thanks to the folks at Pomegranite Letterpress and Design for this suggestion.) These wash up with soap and water (no solvents!) — an important advantage when your press shares space with a pilot light in the furnace room. I spent a lot of time packing and re-packing the cylinder of my Reprex…learning a lot about hard packing and soft packing. And I learned how to use the roller gauge properly and was able to calibrate the rollers so that they printed evenly, just brushing the type.
For the tale itself, I suggested (perhaps too amibitiously) an edition of 165. This would ensure 115 copies for the Wayzgoose anthology and an addition 50 copies to be shared between M. St-Laurent and myself. Design started in September, with layout and some “dummy” copies developed last October. I had new cause for cranky as I was bedevilled by setting diacritics that were upside down and backwards; if minding one’s Ps and Qs were tricky, accents aigue and accent graves almost did me in! And then I was proofing, proofing, proofing! I had clearly underestimated the time and effort involved in setting and proof-reading texts in a second language!