Mid-Term book plan

Since we are working with writing that is not our own for this project, choosing the work obviously had to be the starting point. I began to think around what would be well suited to a short form and, even though I am not a poet, I kept on coming back to poems that I love. Then two ideas collided: I thought of Ezra Pound’s poem, The River Merchant’s Wife, his free translation of Chang-gan Xing by Li Bai, and I immediately thought that the back-to-back, dos-a-dos book form would be perfect to show both the original poem and its translation.

The design will clearly lend itself to something that has an Asian feel to it. I will print the books on parchment paper, and although I plan to use the written-out Chinese for the original poem (Sho hatsu sho fuku gaku…) rather than the Chinese characters, I will use the characters as design elements to accompany both the original poem and the translation. I am toying with typefaces; although I want to have a sense of uniformity in the design of the overall project, I think there needs to be a clear definition, dictated by the language, for each of the two booklets, and typeface is a way to suggest that.

The poem/s fall quite naturally into three sections, so I will print them out on three recto pages, with Chinese graphics on the verso pages. With those 6 pages, the half-title, title, copyright and colophon pages, and two blank pages, each booklet will have 12 pages. I’m thinking of a kind of watermark effect of the original Chinese characters for the book cover, with the title on the front and back to demarcate the two separate halves of the book.

The materials I will need for each book:

  • 6 sheets of Southworth fine parchment paper @ 1 cent per page
  • fine parchment paper for the front and back covers @ 1 cent per page
  • stock card for the two end covers @ 1 cent per page
  • stock card for the three-part dos-a-dos cover @ 1 cent per page
  • (I may affix separate pieces of parchment paper for two titles on the outer covers @ 1 cent per page)
  • embroidery thread

Time allotment for the mock-up book = about five and a half hours:

  • 2-3 hours for the design and layout, and to work out the pagination
  • half an hour to do the printing
  • an hour to measure and cut the materials
  • an hour for the sewing, gluing and assembly

Time allotment for the subsequent 10 books = about ten hours:

  • 2 hours for printing and collation
  • 4 hours to measure and cut the materials
  • 4 hours for the sewing, gluing and assembly
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