Discover more from Ampersand Book Studio
A Next Generation Printer & Book Artist
Part One: Our New Production Associate
This is the first in an on-again/off-again series that introduces some of a new generation of book artists, printers, papermakers, and other young people who are embracing the techniques of the past, keeping them alive today, and defining their future.
Emily Kray, MFA
With the overwhelming support for our edition of Master and Commander, I knew I needed some help. After all, I would need to run more than 100,000 pages though the printing press. Paper would need to be cut, sorted and stacked… plates prepared… ink run up… lots of printing, and the press cleaned up. All of it had to be both beautiful and organized. Fortunately, Emily Kray has stepped into the role of Ampersand Book Studio’s new Production Associate, helping will all aspects of the printing and binding of our book.
Last month, Emily graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona where he spent a great deal of time working on projects in the School of Art’s Book Arts and Letterpress Lab, demonstrating great talent in both printing and bookbinding. Of his work, Emily says,
My body does not forget and through dreaming, I revisit many warped and maze-like iterations of my childhood. These intangible moments that surface from my unconscious show me that the longing I feel towards my past is linked to my sociopolitical upbringing, my gender and sexuality, and my relationship to my mental health. By layering my personal experiences with larger theories about how the body processes and reformulates memories, my artwork combines both fact and fiction to simulate the slippery process of remembering.
I make artist books and design games to explore the mechanics of how we remember. I collage photographs, paintings, and stories together to create dissonance between memory, reality, and dreams. Visually, I utilize repetition to represent the stages of remembrance in decay, and the comparison of repeated elements emphasizes the differences between the recalled, the real, and the imagined. Within my installations I raise questions about the complexity of how our bodies create, store, and reflect the past.
Although Emily is an accomplished book artist, printing of fine press editions such as ours is new.
My experience working on books prior to this project was mainly focused on their production as art objects. The book has always been very special and nostalgic for me, and it easily became a vehicle by which I could deliver my research about memories and dreams. I printed mainly small editions on either a Vandercook proof press or a pedal operated clamshell press. And although my prior experience is definitely helpful when approaching this larger project, I’ve had to learn techniques that are unique to printing larger editions of fine press books. Printing Master and Commander has introduced me to the Heidelberg press. This is the first fully automatic press that I’ve operated, and was definitely intimidating at first, but is an essential production mechanism for this project. It allows us the speed and precision to print the large quantities required for these editions of books, and the rhythmic hydraulics of the machine become hypnotic as the day goes on. Although we’re in the beginning stages of printing, I know that patience and a positive mental attitude can take us far, with the destination being a wonderful edition of beautifully bound books!
I have been delighted to bring Emily onto the project. His commitment to the book is inspirational, and his hard work – inky fingers, sore back, and long, hot days – is key to making our edition possible.