Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Close to the Edge

Over the holidays I received a handmade card that had a double-colored hand-torn deckle edge. I liked the presentation of the colored deckle, and it suggested a typographic approach for a visual poem. (Now printed and shown above.)

I had some offcuts of Rives BFK which, as the deckle edge is relatively uniform, was the ideal paper for the job at hand. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough offcuts for the entire job, so I had to tear down some sheets by hand; but even those loaned themselves to the desired effect.

Part of the effect I was looking for was degrading of letterform as the type prints on the deckle. Encouraging me to do this is the fact that legibility studies have shown that the upper part of a letter is the most important in character recognition. As it turned out, however, degraded letterform did not come into play as much as I had anticipated.

For the baseline I used 8-Didot Inserat Grotesk—as it fit the deckle perfectly—and 12-Didot Permanent Headline for display, both original foundry faces from Haas and Ludwig & Mayer.

Appropos of these comments I offer this poem from A Printer’s Dozen.

The Truth About Margins

In the 20th Century we trim
To bleed. How unlike the ancients,
Who gravitated toward
The center of things. Now,
How close to the edge?
In this houseful of objects
Other men have made,
I recall Fairbank’s love of letters:
“Because he lacked facility
to draw.”
The generosity of genius,
And the anonymity of type—
Where to stop with other men’s ideas?

reprinted from A Printer's Dozen
Courtesy of The Bieler Press, Los Angeles.

©1992 — Philip Gallo

No comments: