Event Report: Print Making Techniques in Book Illustration

After the winter holiday, Yvonne Lewis shares what she learned at Krystle Attard Trevisan‘s Book History Seminar in December.

Curiosity about the holdings of the National Museum of Malta aroused my interest in this seminar. I’ve been to many talks on print techniques over the years, so was expecting to come away as baffled as ever about how the ink ended up on the paper in most cases. It is very difficult taking someone’s spoken or written description and turning it into images of how the processes work in your head. Letterpress I can imagine, but it gets more complicated when the speaker is trying to describe the various different offset techniques.

I was pleasantly surprised to come away feeling much more enlightened. As background introduction, Krystle took us clearly, but rapidly, through the many centuries of printing history, from Chinese woodblocks, through the various hand-presses, to modern photographic printmaking. Each phase was accompanied by close-up images of the finished product, plus supporting material on individual techniques. Both were extremely useful in showing the difference between copperplate and intaglio for example.

In her day job, Krystle is in the process of cataloguing c. 4,500 prints. As she demonstrated, use of a microscope or the zoom feature on a modern phone allows her to investigate the images more closely in order to identify the technique used. This must be invaluable as many of us have struggled in the past to be confident in our assessment of images when the maker has been a master of their technique. I do hope that Krystle will do more talks or seminars on printmaking techniques. Although images of her slides are imprinted on my brain, I’m sure a refresher will be required at a future date. One day, perhaps, a good excuse to visit Malta.

Yvonne Lewis

Making Manuscripts (Book History Seminar)

Last week saw the first of our Book History Seminars, led by Sara Charles (Teaching Manuscripts) and I took the Chair’s prerogative to write the event report.

Sara is part of a growing number of researchers who unite their love of making and their love of research by using historical remaking in their academic work. From Alan May’s experiments in making printing presses through Joumana Medlej’s Inks and Paints of the Middle East (and her forthcoming Wild Colours: Seasonal Inks and Paints) to Jessie Wei-Hsuan Chen’s Hortus Floridus Iessi, people are finding more and more imaginative methods to engage with the ways in which early books were made.

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Making Manuscripts with Sara Charles

Announcing the first of our Book History Seminar Series.

In this online seminar, Sara will explore the physical relationship between the animals and the human hands that made medieval manuscripts, and how our natural environment can produce all we need for the creation of a book. She will also talk about how going through the processes of manuscript production has enabled her to codicologically ‘read’ a manuscript much more effectively, and offer pointers for ways into historical remaking.

Sara Charles (Teaching Manuscripts) is a qualified librarian who is completing a PhD on Usuard martyrologies at the Institute of English Studies. Having first studied Codicology during her MA Library and Information Studies, she further developed her skills during her MRes in Book History, and began historical remaking as part of her PhD methodology in order to gain a deeper insight into the conditions under which the manuscripts she is studying were created. Since founding Teaching Manuscripts just over a year ago, she has given demonstrations and led workshops for schools, universities and the general public, and this year received funding from the Being Human Festival to deliver an online seminar and workshop on making iron gall ink.

Full details and registration.