ONE OF HIS IDEAS not only took root, it split into two conceptual and visually-driven book projects. This is the first one : How Ink Writes Poetry.
RAY ONCE WON AN EBAY AUCTION for some 48 point Onyx metal type. It probably weighed 30 pounds and was held together with cellophane tape. It had no chance of staying together during shipping (see the photo above). Carefully removing the type sort by sort (a sort is an individual piece of metal type), Ray filled a galley, letter by letter in the order he removed them. The galley sat around the studio for several weeks until he finally decided to record the typographic melee with a broadside print entitled, How Type Writes Poetry, shown below.
FLASH FORWARD TO 2015. After printing you have to clean all the ink from the press in preparation for the next run. It helps to get most of that ink off the press efficiently and quickly, and every printer has their particular method.
Typically on our Vandercook Universal III, Ray woud squirt solvent onto the rollers and run a sheet of whatever paper was available through the inking rollers. Some of the resulting abstract images would grab his attention, looking like a landscape or a lake with hills reflecting on its surface. He started saving them. Sometimes he ran a sheet through a second time with a new color.
Ray then hit upon the idea of running 2 sheets through together, which doubled the output and kept the back of the sheets clean. He started using heavy weight paper and collecting the good prints in a cabinet drawer until he had a few hundred of them.
A FEW YEARS LATER there sits this mountain of what Ray had dubbed "ink pulls" in a couple of deep drawers. The Upper Chesapeake Book Artists Group (Elkton, MD) planned a members' show for late 2017, and Lead Graffiti wanted to make a splash. It was almost inevitable that Ray would use these dramatic, highly textured ink pulls to produce his new book project and title it How Ink Writes Poetry.
Executed on white paper with typically black ink, each copy of the book contains a final spread with 2 or more accent colors—a burst of visual energy and nonverbal joyful enthusiasm. This is how ink would write poetry.
LEAD GRAFFITI OFTEN UTILIZES spontaneity as a design component. As mentioned earlier, Ray's idea for his visual book has a twin. He is working now to expand the ink pulls into a series to help explain some of society's important questions along the lines of science, language, music, and more. Book #2 using these ink pulls uses its polar opposite of white ink on black paper and is entitled, Electric Fire From the Clouds, based on Ben Franklin's experiments on electricity.
How Ink Writes Poetry
This book is currently available in our Lead Graffiti store.
Edition : 20 books intended, numbered and signed by Ray Nichols, printed in 2017-18
Size : 22 pages, 8.5" x 17" overall
Binding : Bound by hand in a flutter book format with glued foredges
BELOW IS A SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON of spreads from Artists' Proof 1 and 2 of How Ink Writes Poetry.
We couldn't wait for the Manhattan Book Fair in March of 2018 to get some face-to-face reactions of people and their comments on the books. We actually only sold 1 copy, but a new twist to the project should make it more desirable.
Next entry : Chesapeake Meander