Once again, this year’s Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose (or printer’s open house), which was held on October 20th, did not disappoint. My travel companions and I rose bright and early for the trip down to Kentville from Halifax so that we could participate in the first event of the day: a literary salon with Heather Jessup, author of The Lightning Field, and Carmine Starnino, author of Lazy Bastardism: Essays and Reviews on Contemporary Poetry.
The conversation during the salon was intriguing, but the most exciting part was at the end when Heather Jessup introduced herself and invited me to join her and a few other people (including Valerie Compton, author of Tide Road) for lunch. Heather recognized me from my recent Atlantic Writing Competition win. It was nice to chat with Heather and Valerie in an informal setting and get to know them as people rather than just as esteemed Atlantic Canadian authors.
After lunch we headed back to Gaspereau Press for the remainder of the Wayzgoose.The first thing I noticed when I walked into the publishing house was that everything had been rearranged since the previous Wayzgoose last October. This was done to accommodate the Goluska collection that Gaspereau Press received in the spring. When Glenn Goluska, a Montreal printer and a friend of Gaspereau Press’ Andrew Steeves, passed away, he left his collection of type and printing machinery to Gaspereau Press. Once Goluska’s collection is fully catalogued by the folks at Gaspereau, it will be integrated into their publishing operation.
During the open house, in addition to having Gaspereau Press staff explain and demonstrate how they letterpress print the covers of their books, Wayzgoose visitors got to cast a line of type from hot lead, print it onto card stock, and make a small chapbook.
Our newly cast lines of lead type were then printed onto card stock with a 5×8 Platen Press. This press is only a little larger than my 3×5 Kelsey Excelsior Platen Press.
For instructions on how to make a chapbook please visit my blog post “Basic bookbinding: How to make a chapbook.”
Visitors also got to print a letterpress Wayzgoose keepsake. The linocut pictures made by David Bewer and printed with brown ink were pressed by the Gaspereau folks before the start of the event, but participants printed the green and red text (separately) on a Vandercook printing press.
David Carruthers from Saint-Armand Paper Makers, based in Montreal, Quebec, was also on site to give papermaking demonstrations and tips and tricks on how to make your own paper at home, something that I’ve been wanting to try my hand at for quite some time. Once David was finished with his demonstrations, he and I spoke for a while about papermaking and determining paper quality. He gave me some great advice on where to buy supplies and told me to email him if I encounter any problems along the way. It’s so great to speak with artists who are passionate about what they do and are excited to share their experience and knowledge.
As David explained during his demonstration, paper can be made from a number of things. For example, he showed us how to make paper from old denim jeans. The jeans were first cut up into small squares and then placed with water into a Hollander beater in order to loosen the denim fibres and transform the jeans into a pulp.
Once the jeans were beaten to a pulp — literally — the watery pulp was then dumped into a sink. David dipped the papermaking mold down into the water and then slowly raised it so that the pulp was evenly distributed across the mold.
David then carefully flipped the mold over onto a piece of felt, which released the newly formed sheet of paper. The sheet of paper then stays on the felt until it dries. Each piece of wet paper is separated by a piece of felt to prevent sticking. Thicker paper is made by placing multiple sheets of paper on top of each other before laying the felt over top; when the paper is pressed each thin sheet will stick together to make a thicker sheet of paper.
The paper is then pressed throughout the drying process. This removes the excess water and allows the paper to dry flat.
Of course, even though I plan to start making some of my own paper for my printing and book-making projects, I wasn’t going to pass up on Gaspereau Press’ off-cut paper sale. I love the paper that Gaspereau uses for its books, so to me their off-cut paper sale is one of the highlights of going to the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose. I also took home one of Gaspereau’s new, beautifully published books: Love & The Mess We’re In by Stephen Marche. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but it’s beautifully written and designed.
Although Gaspereau’s Wayzgoose continued on through the evening with readings by Heather Jessup and Carmine Starnino, and a paper-making presentation by David Carruthers, my friends and I decided to head back to Halifax around suppertime. It had been a wonderful day, but we were rather tired and didn’t want to get home too late.
That night I fell asleep wondering what next year’s Wayzgoose might hold, and about all of the beautiful books that Gaspereau Press will publish in the meantime. But they don’t just publish books at Gaspereau Press; rather, they create works of art.