Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Punctuation Coasters

Historically known as 'beermats', coasters first came into use in the 19th century and were originally used to cover drinks to keep out bugs and debris in dirty bars. Now, everyone knows coasters as the objects you set your drinks on to protect a table surface and they are often covered with advertisements for restaurants, bars, beverage companies, etc. 

Last fall, I made a coaster project of my own. Here is a sampling of images from throughout the making of the project, interspersed with my artist statement. For images of the complete finished project, check out the gallery on my website

Punctuation Coasters is a functional book arts project; meaning that it acts not only as a work of book art to view, but also as a set of functional tools, coasters, intended for use by the possessor. Despite having a cover and colophon, this book is not bound in the traditional sense, but rather it exists as eleven coasters that break down and celebrate the building blocks of a sentence: punctuation. 
Every project begins with make-ready, as in, making the press ready for printing. Despite it's simplicity, I knew this was going to be a detailed project with a lot of press changes (due to the size difference, the wood images and smaller lead type could not be printed at the same time if I wanted the best impression from both) so I started by cutting a set of new tympans for the best quality printing throughout the project.

Each punctuation mark; ampersand, colon & semi colon, comma, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, period, question mark, quotation marks; has a coaster of its own to showcase its importance.

This project was letterpress printed using a tabletop platen press in the autumn of 2014. All text is hand-set Stymie lead type of varying sizes and styles. All punctuation is wood type. This book was made in a (sold out) edition of 25 with 3 Artist's Proofs. 
The colophon was hand-set and made up on the spot. It took over an hour to set and only about 5 minutes to breakdown and redistribute after printing
Randomly going through the wood type collection at the San Francisco Center for the Book and finding a drawer full of punctuation, is actually what prompted this project
So much Stymie! It is one of my favorite fonts and I'm lucky to have had this collection to work with

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