Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A Summer Affair in the Cotswolds

Up and down the country the summer brings forth the village fete. Morris dancers, dog shows, biggest vegetables, most delicious cake. A hog roast, hoopla and bric-à-brac stalls, bouncy castles for the children, donkey rides, and afternoon teas on the lawn.
However, this Cotswold village fete has one very big difference, separate from the many fete attractions. The Manor House opens it's doors to the public along with it's very fine Printing Press in the outbuildings. It shows off its latest work with displays of printing and typecasting.
In the gardens scattered around under a canopy of trees are an array of visiting printers, binders, marblers, wood and linocut engravers and handmade paper-makers from all over the country; displaying the myriad skills that go into the production of a handprinted, limited edition book. Stalls of these fine books sell their wares. However, a big fat wallet is required to secure a limited edition, hand bound book in leather. It is a mecca for purists from far and wide seeking something rather special from under these ancient bunting clad trees.
Most of the Private Press stalls had their latest prospectus of forthcoming books. One pamphlet revealed a book by our sons, poems by eldest son, illustrated by youngest son. The finished book could still be a long time in the pipeline. Youngest son's linocuts use 3/4/ or 5 colours each having a different linocut. The Victorian Press needs to be reset for each colour just to produce a single illustration. The book will be a limited edition of 200 copies.

40 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary:
    This all looks to be absolutely magical and so very English to hold such an event in a beautiful Cotswold garden. What fun too it appears to be, and so very, very colourful. We should have loved it.

    And how thrilled you must be that your son is to have his poems published in a limited edition with illustrations by his brother. What talented children you have. There is so much about you, Rosemary, that we do not know, but how we love gleaning these snippets.

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    1. Dear Jane and Lance - it is a very special occasion which the Manor house has been generously hosting for the past 43 years. The family own the whole village so it is a very old fashioned English affair.
      The book could be a long time before we set eyes on it. These private printing presses operate on a different time scale to everyone else. They all know each other, have a tremendous camaraderie, and meet at the big book fairs in Oxford, and London. There are many enthusiastic collectors of these fine books especially in the States.

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  2. This is so special! You must be so very proud of your sons. A very special fete as well. We don't have any fetes like that over here, not even the 'regular' ones like you described.
    Looking forward to see a little bit here(???) of the poems and illustrations in a book that will be cherished by you more than any other book I'm sure.
    Bye,
    have a nice day,
    it's pouring rain over here, so your summer fete pictures brightened up the day a little bit ;-)
    Marian

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    1. Dear Marian - thank you very much for your very kind comments.
      I suppose every country has its different ways of doing things. These summer village fetes happen every weekend up and down the country, and must have been going on in some form or another for hundreds of years.
      Once the book is finished, which hopefully will be 2013, I will give you a glimpse of it. We are really looking forward to seeing it ourselves.
      At the moment we are enjoying what we call an Indian Summer, so I will send a little bit of it over the water to you.

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  3. Dear Rosemery,you must be so proud for your sons!Amazing shots,lovely village!Have a nise day!
    Dimi..

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    1. Thank you Dimi - it is a lovely village, and fortunately it was a lovely warm day.

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  4. What a fabulous setting for the village fete, we used to enjoy taking part in our local one when we lived in the UK. Yours is rather special though being in the manor house grounds and have the private printers involved, how exciting that your son has a publication in the pipeline.

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    1. We shall be excited to see the book, and hope that the wait is not too long. It is a lovely village and the owners are very generous hosts to everyone.

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  5. This is no ordinary village fete; what a treat to see such originality and creativity! In your montage of printing and typecasting photos, the girl in the red dress playing the trombone with her foot, very funny :) Congratulations to both of your sons, and to your future purchase of a very special, limited edition book.

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    1. Dear Rosemary I am so pleased that you noticed that illustration in particular. The print press at the Manor house are in the process of producing a book showing that illustration. The book is called Vance Gerry & The weather Bird Press and is about Vance who died in 2005. Vance Gerry was considered to be one of the most remarkable of American illustrators and printers, and the book is a tribute to him.

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    2. That is going to make a very lively-looking book. I would like to thank you Rosemary for the time and care you take to answering each and every comment :) I look forward to your replies as much as I do your blog posts!

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    3. That is a very kind remark Rosemary for which I thank you very much.

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  6. Hello Rosemary, In these days when poor book production values seem to be accelerating the overall decline of printed books, it is heartening to hear about this book fair celebrating quality craftsmanship. The results will enhance your sons' book in ways that a book lover can truly appreciate.

    When I was in college there were lots of small print shops scattered around the campus, and which produced noteworthy work. Today, I understand, many have closed, and these manual arts are being sadly forgotten.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Dear Jim - I think that there will always be a place for these handmade books. There are many collectors, and especially so in the States. In the UK private presses are following in the tradition of William Morris and his Kelmscott Press, and the movement seems to be very much alive.

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  7. Very cool! The fete looks like fun. I've read a couple of books (fiction/cozy mystery) that mentioned a 'village fete', but unfortunately there weren't any pictures. Thanks for showing me what they look like. Great photos.

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    1. Was the book something like Midsummer Murders? Unforeseen happenings going on behind the summer madness!!!

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  8. An article full of collages. Very nice.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  9. Oh, the village fete photos and comments at the start brought on homesickness (even after 47 years). How wonderful for your sons to be producing the book of poems. Did I understand that your family own the whole village?

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    1. I hope it was a good homesickness feeling, I would not want you to feel sad.
      The family that live at the Manor House own the whole village, and all the farms and land around - not us I am afraid, sorry if you misunderstood. We were just visitors to the fete.

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  10. What a lovely English summer fete with such a difference. How the gardens have been transformed with the wonderful displays of printed material. How fantastic that your sons are involved in eventually producing a beautiful crafted book.
    Sarah x

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    1. Dear Sarah - it is certainly a special occasion, and to a certain extent is in two parts. Those that like the fete side of things, and those that are serious book collectors who get there very early in order to be the first under the trees to see what little gems they can find.

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  11. Dear Rosemary,

    Just this week, I was listening to our National Public Radio, and there was a big discussion about digital books eventually becoming a greater percentage of library stock. It made me despair a little because for me books have always appealed to and stimulated all of the senses, and I just can't imagine curling up with a blue screen. I've used hotpress type myself, and even set it by hand, and recognize that it is a beautiful and high art form. Maybe that's why I like all that marbled paper!

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    1. I loved watching the marbler. He was letting youngsters choose the colours they wanted and helping them to marble the colours. He then hung the paper to dry for them to collect later and take home. I remember doing it as a child at school and then we made the paper into lanterns.
      My daughter-in-law was very keen to watch him and take it all in, and I am sure she will be giving it a go.
      The marbler runs weekend courses in a lovely big house in Herefordshire, and I am tempted to book the whole family in next year - seriously thinking about it.

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  12. Hello, Rosemary ~
    What Cotswold village is this? I visit the UK twice a year and have, unfortunately, never been to a village fete :( One day....
    The marble-ized paper remind me of a visit I made to a paper atelier in Florence.
    Cheers,
    Loi

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    1. The village is called Whittington and is about 6 miles east of Cheltenham, or 40 miles west of Oxford. From mid-April to mid-September the fetes happen every weekend. This one is always the last weekend in August, next year 31st August.
      The marble paper does have a touch of Florentine designs, you are right Loi.

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  13. Afternoon tea on the lawn is very British! I was caught by the prints which look like Japanese “suminagashi” originating in the 9th century. (And I learned it is called marbling in English just now.) The swirling patterns caught in the moment is unique and never be duplicated. The collaborated work of book by your two sons is fascinating. When the book is printed, let us have a look.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - I love the way you describe the suminagashi style of covering paper - the swirling patterns caught in the moment is unique - great description. That is what is so glorious about marbling, you pop the colours in the tray swish them around and you never know quite what design will emerge - great fun.
      Once the book is ready, I will show you a glimpse.

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  14. I love those printed pieces, and what a lovely village! Hasn't the weather been lovely?! I'd love to invite you to 'Blogger's Tea' in London - it would be great to meet you! Pop over to my blog for details :)

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    1. Yes, the Indian summer is wonderful, the air so still and the sun smiling everyday - great.
      I shall pop over to your blog and have a look, thanks for your kind invite.

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  15. so happy and colourful this village fete! lovely presented with the beautiful collages you have made...how great that your sons have their own project too:-) happy&sunny rest of the week from me!

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    1. These occasions really require a good sunny day to be successful, and luckily the day was good. Thanks for your visit Jana.

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  16. Indeed this sound so very English!
    This is my kind of thing Rosemary. Participating, as a visitor of course,
    is the most relaxing and at the same time, exciting experience for me

    You must be really proud of your sons. Hope will hear more about their book!

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    1. It is strange how we just take for granted things that happen in our own country without giving any particular thought to them, but you are right I think perhaps it is a British thing.
      We await the book with anticipation. Thanks Demie.

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  17. What a lovely post celebrating the joys of the village fete. :-) I'm particularly interested in the focus on the Private Presses, since in Wales we live near Gregynog where there was once one of Britain's finest private presses. The library in which I worked had a complete collection of its publications and they were a joy to behold.

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    1. Dear Perpetua - I know Gregynog very well, and have stayed there lots of times. I am sure you know it now belongs to the University of Wales. I wrote a post about Gregynog in November 2011.
      I am pleased to tell that the Gregynog Press is very much alive and well, and still considered to be the crèmè de la crèmè in the country. I agree with you that their books are a joy to behold, and wish I had a few.

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  18. Dear Rosemary
    A wonderful event with people , books , colours !You must very proud for your boys !
    I would like to be there to stay and look all the books and I could saw your eyes and your big smile !
    Olympia

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    1. I am sure you would love it Olympia, so much to see and so much to do. Learning to marble paper, yes, looking at all the special books - great day out.

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  19. You have a very talented family... congratulations!
    My dad would have loved to see this... he was a type setting printer by trade, starting out as an apprentice in the 1950s. In his lifetime he saw great changes in the industry as technology advanced...

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    1. He would certainly have been amongst lots of other enthusiasts Nat.

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