The Art of Photo-Engraving

From the introduction to The Art of Photo-Engraving, 1929: “In these days of hustle and bustle and in a land accustomed to the translation of visions and dreams in terms of steel, concrete and marvelous machinery, a jaded army of sophisticates was thrilled by the appearance of a most unusual book. A book utterly devoid […]


Crossed-posted at Meanjin’s Spike, 1 March 2011. Over lunch at Mr. Tulk some time back, former Meanjin editor Sophie Cunningham, writer Caroline Lee, designer Stuart Geddes and printer Carolyn Fraser – all friends – discussed design ideas for the jacket of the limited edition of Lee’s novel Stripped, which Cunningham published in installments in Meanjin during 2008-2010. Concepts were discussed; practical matters […]

The last telegram?

It is turning out to be surprisingly difficult to work out when the last telegram was transmitted in Australia. The Powerhouse Museum suggests that it was in 1983. I received this telegram however from my cousin (and his wife, baby son and dog) in 1988. For a Gen Xer, there’s nothing like telling a young person […]

New workshop dates, 2011

January 22 & 23 March 12 & 13 May 21 & 22 July 16 & 17 September 24 & 25 November 12 & 13 More information here.

Idlewild Press, relocation 2010

Dorian, inspired by the TV show ‘Monster Moves’, suggested the following plan for the move between the old and new studios: Move the Nicholas Building to Collingwood. Unload the presses. Return the NB to the CBD. And this is (almost) how it happened. There’s a story to be told, but in the meantime, I am […]

Rare Book Summer School Day 5

Rare Book School Days 3 & 4

Printing letterpress can feel a bit like the ascent up the steepest grade of an old-school roller coaster. A slow ratcheting up and up, until finally, the momentum of printing itself takes over. I find myself needing to encourage and reassure through what can seem like painfully slow steps: typesetting, proofing, correcting, proofing again. This […]

Rare Book Summer School Day 2

The story we are printing is Cate Kennedy’s Chiapas, 1965. It is a story about first contact between Westerners and the Lacandon Indians in Chiapas, Mexico. At first, it is lyrical, incantatory, disorienting. The last part of the story reads like whiplash, stops you dead with a sudden blast of shameful recognition and indictment. There […]

Rare Book Summer School

Four or so years ago, I was asked if I’d be interested in teaching a week-long letterpress workshop for the Rare Books Summer School. I said was, contingent on my finding a studio. In the years that followed, I’d occasionally run into the organiser, who, in his enthusiasm, would scare me into thinking the workshop […]

Don’t Carry Inflammable Articles (Your Lucky Number 6)

I wasn’t sure what these machines were when I first saw them on train platforms in India. Carnival games? Fortune-telling machines? Neither: they’re weighing scales. As was pointed out to me in Mumbai when I went to set my bag on the ground, there is a handle on which to hang your stuff as you […]

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