Let’s See That Printed: Mindy Belloff of Intima Press’s ‘Minotaur’

We keep tabs on the many wonderful and intriguing designs that come through doors here for our custom-made photopolymer platemaking services. One that we’ve been following for quite some time is Mindy Belloff (of Intima Press)’s highly detailed illustration and creative typesetting designs in her latest fine edition book project.

As a book artist, letterpress printer, and educator, I have been a loyal fan of Boxcar Press, having ordered plates since the beginning of Harold’s enterprises. The staff have always been helpful, especially when polymer platemaking and digital spec instructions were still in their infancy.

During this time, I have sent to Boxcar a wide variety of digital designs of artwork, student work, and job work. A few years ago, as a new livre d’artiste was in the works, they took notice of the beginning of the work. As I firmed up designs and sent a flurry of large plate orders, I was asked about the scope of this project as it had piqued their interest. I was happy to share the text, but could not stop production and take time to send images of the various pages, as I was working so intensely, designing by night and printing all day. I had close to 2,000 sheets in my studio in various stages of printing for over a year and a half.

Recently, I was asked by Boxcar to reveal more about the fine edition book I have just released, after two intense years of work, which follows.

The book is titled, “A Golden Thread.” It is 92-pages, in a format of folios, featuring the text of “The Minotaur,” a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1853). It is composed of 100 original drawings, some with hand painting, and 200 press runs, in an edition of 40, printed on cotton rag papers with a sheet size of approximately 15 x 21 inches. It is a contemporary twist on the medieval illumination, letterpress printed on a Vandercook Uni III automatic press.

The story begins in blue and gold ink, with our hero Theseus, as a young boy. As the story unfolds, Theseus grows to be a young man and journeys to Athens to find his father, King Aegus.

Theseus has an unpleasant encounter with the wicked Medea before he finds and is embraced by his father. He soon learns of the fate of seven young men and seven maidens, to be chosen as a sacrifice to the Minotaur, a beast housed in the labyrinth of Crete.  Theseus volunteers to sail to Crete with the youths. (By now, you may recall the details of this tragic myth.)

When the ship arrives in Crete, the evil King Minos throws them in the dungeon, to await their fate. Enter the heroine, Ariadne, who secretly releases Theseus and leads him to the entrance of a maze.

The middle section of the book, as Theseus makes his way through the labyrinth to find the Minotaur, is designed with typography that blankets the page. The plates for this section were, of course, quite large, and many pages were printed on one side of the sheet, and then turned (plates and paper), to accommodate the sheet size. Most pages have 5 to 6 press runs each.

In the third and final section of the book, Theseus emerges victorious, having slain the bull-headed Minotaur monster. Our heroine awaits, still holding the golden thread at the entrance to the maze. Theseus and the other 13 youths sail back to Athens, where they encounter more obstacles and tragedy, as expected in a classic Greek myth.

On the final page of the story, our hero becomes King. Below is an image of the page showing two of the four-color press runs, which includes ornamented initials, and border drawings.

The book is hand sewn and beautifully bound with a blue leather spine and gold gilding.

Mindy received a fine press book discount for her entire project for the plates Boxcar Press created.  We appreciate her giving us a sense of her book “A Golden Thread” with words and photos.  Mindy Belloff produces fine letterpress printed book and broadside editions at her Union Square studio under the imprint Intima Press. Her artist’s books have been included in many publications and she received an award for Excellence in Book Design.

You can visit Mindy’s website for more on the Minotaur edition at Intimapress.com.

CBAA: Broadening Book Arts Opportunities

Boxcar Press is a proud supporter of letterpress printed short-run books.  We offer a 10% discount for fine press work and encourage all printers to explore projects like this.   Many printers are first introduced to book printing through their academic experience at college.  It is very likely their instructors were members of the College Book Art Association (CBAA).  Bridget Elmer, President of the CBAA,  provides an overview of this organization and the numerous options to members and those interested in the printed fine press book.     

A relatively new art form, artists’ books constantly defy a clearcut definition, as do their makers. While some books incorporate letterpress printing for text and image, others might incorporate screen printing, hand lettering, digital printing, or no printing at all. Similarly, their bindings may be in a traditional codex format, a series of broadsides, or a one-of-a-kind altered book. Teaching students both the history and methods of making artists’ books is a unique and evolving challenge.

The College Book Art Association (CBAA) is a non-profit organization committed to the teaching of book art. The association strives to support education about book art, including both the practice and analysis of the medium. It welcomes as members everyone involved in teaching and all others who have similar goals and interests. In addition to the educational community of teachers and students, CBAA’s over 400 members include academic librarians, curators, independent scholars, museum professionals, international private collectors, and practicing artists.

CBAA membership has many benefits, including project assistance and travel grants that are awarded to artists, teachers, and scholars, as well as scholarships for students and recent alumni that are co-sponsored by a growing list of partners including Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Mills College, the Morgan Conservatory, Wells College, and Women’s Studio Workshop. CBAA fosters book art visibility and community engagement by organizing member exhibitions and regional events. CBAA also cultivates the expansion of book art criticism by publishing the scholarly journal, Openings: Studies in Book Art, and facilitates dialogue on the Book Art Theory blog. Finally, members have the chance to convene in person every year by attending CBAA’s annual meetings and conferences.

In 2019, CBAA will hold their biennial meeting in Tucson, Arizona from January 4–5 at the University of Arizona. Themed The Photographic Artist’s Book, this meeting is an interdisciplinary landmark for CBAA—keynote speaker Christina de Middel will discuss the ways her work blends documentary and conceptual photographic practices, and discussion sessions will explore topics including Printing Photographic Images Using Letterpress. Participants will tour the UA Book Art and Letterpress Lab and a multi-venue exhibition of photo-based artists’ books will be on display at the Joseph Gross Gallery in the UA School of Art and at the internationally known University of Arizona Poetry Center. Registration opens soon for this exciting opportunity to learn more about CBAA and the history and contemporary practice of photo-based artists’ books.

CBAA’s 2020 biennial conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from January 2–5 and hosted by a dynamic collaborative of academic institutions and community-based organizations, including Tulane University, Loyola University, Baskerville, and Paper Machine, among others. With a theme of Intersections, the conference program will aim to expand the discussion of book arts and foster an inclusive field that embraces both academic and independent educational programs, welcoming ideas that come from all races, classes, genders, and levels of education.