First page of my wayzgoose signature

Wayzgoose Season – and my ‘magnum opus’

I often sing the praises of the Grimsby Wayzgoose, the annual celebration of printers, book artists, printmakers, paper marblers and book artisans held on the last Saturday in April each year in Grimsby, Ontario.  It’s a wonderful and welcoming book arts fair, where one gets to meet old friends and make new friends as well.  The Wayzgoose is approaching its fortieth anniversary (2019) – and it has become a mainstay in the letterpress and book arts community.

An added pleasure of the Wayzgoose is its anthology. Each year since 1981, the Wayzgoose organizers publish an anthology – a beautifully bound edition of signatures created by several participating artists. The edition usually consists of 115 copies; thus artisans who choose to participate must register in early January and then produce at least 115 copies of their signatures by end of February.

I’m an occasional contributor to the anthology – and I can usually delude myself into thinking that, having done this a few times before, this time it’ll be easy. But having once again overestimated my skill and stamina, I find myself racing to finish the last few impressions of my signature in time for the deadline.

I’ve outdone myself this time – having written and printed a nine-page (!) signature when I really only have enough type to set and print two pages at a time. Unlike those job printers of olden days, I’m still not very good at estimating quantities of type for a work-and-turn approach to my print job.

Pages 4 and 5, constituting virtually ALL of my 12-point Caslon type
Pages 4 and 5, constituting virtually ALL of my 12-point Caslon type

Still, I believe it’s a worthy effort. Not because of my superlative printing skills (hardly that), but because my signature this year is about the Wayzgoose itself.  A meta-wayzgoose, if you will. A Wayzgoose about the Wayzgoose.

Maybe it’s because of my background in library work, but I’ve always felt that the Wayzgoose anthologies were important in tracing the development of the modern Canadian private press and book arts renaissance. I was always a little perplexed as to why the anthologies had never been indexed, since they contained such a vast selection of beautiful artwork by some of Canada’s finest printers, paper makers, book artists and allied artisans.

A few years ago, I began a little project to index all the anthologies and put them online as a little research database.  To date, 32 of the Wayzgoose’s last 35 annual editions have been indexed – and from the information there, I’ve gleaned some valuable insights into the history of the anthologies and the many artists who contribute to them.  I decided that my signature this year would be the means by which I’d share these findings with the wider Wayzgoose community.

Despite my rigorous self-editing, I still ended up with nine pages’ worth of Wayzgoose details to share – by far my largest undertaking to date.   I swear, all that setting-printing-dissing and setting-printing-dissing nearly killed me.  Still, the printing is done.  The fabulous Caligo Inks will dry for a couple of days.  Then, folding, trimming – and “the mark of the printer” before I pack them off in the mail.

Magnum opus consummatum est.






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