Chesapeake Meander


Chesapeake Meander


a collaboration between Jill Cypher & Deborah Arnold

THIS ARTISTS BOOK CAME ABOUT as the result of a challenge to members of the Upper Chesapeake Book Artists Group (Elkton, Maryland) to do a collaborative project culminating in a members' exhibition in October 2017. Jill Cypher partnered with Deborah Arnold, book artist and writer of West of the Press, for their first ever joint venture.

At their initial brainstorming session, Jill stated her interest in doing some hand rolling and printing over some sort of preprinted imagery. Deborah was keen to focus more on writing and to try the meander format for a book. It was a match made in Lead Graffiti heaven. With the Chesapeake Bay as the subject, Jill dove into looking for suitable maps, and Deborah zeroed in on navigating the Chesapeake with meandering words.

The dictionary defines meander as a rambling, winding, indirect course or journey. The meander binding format for this book became the point of departure for the theme of the poem, as well as the arrangement of the words and illustrations. Before you open the book, take in the sunshine-and-shadow watery surface of the paste paper cover. 

Inside, large hand-inked wood type spells out the poem's title and spills out over a digitally printed mariner's map of the Chesapeake Bay, courtesy of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Sewn within the paper valley of each spread, tissue-thin Sekishu paper forms a virtual misty haze over the map of the Chesapeake, focusing your eyes on what is near at hand and visible: reeds, crab, oysters, fish, shark teeth, and birds.

The surface of the water on the opening pages is transformed into birds on the wing by the close of the poem. Each time you amble through this watery journey, you see something new in this handsome book of visual and physical textures that is definitely touch-worthy. 

Production details

Chesapeake Meander

Edition : Edition of 25 books, signed by Deborah Arnold and Jill Cypher and numbered; printed in 2017 - 2018

Size : 46 pages, 4.25" x 6.25" overall

Binding : Bound by hand in a meander-fold-book format with additional handsewn pages

  • Removable cover boards wrapped on the outside in hand-painted paste paper with a letterpress-printed title, and wrapped on the inside with letterpress-printed Canson Mi Tientes wave green endsheets; with a removable, parchment spine lined with matching paste paper and decoratively stitched with gray linen thread

  • Removable text block composed of a digitally-printed NOAA mariner's map on Somerset Velvet, folded and torn by hand; with additional letterpress-printed Japanese Sekishu paper with hand-torn foredges sewn in with linen thread

  • Pages include title and colophon

Production  :

  • Designed and handset in Melior metal type, with a variety of additional printers borders and ornaments, and non-matching orphan wood type. Colophon and endsheet logos are digitally composed and printed with a photopolymer plate.

  • Printed slowly & patiently via letterpress in blue, green, and metallic charcoal inks, on a Vandercook Universal III and SP15. Map is overprinted with hand-rolled wood type in 2 colors. Poem and illustrations on Japanese Sekishu paper are printed via letterpress in the same 2 colors.

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