Passion for Excellence
Keough Update #19: LABYRINTH SUBLIME
Deja Vu or Climbing Mt Fairweather — May 29, 2011
I’m quite proud to say that the production proofs of LABYRINTH SUBLIME are truly beautiful volumes. Pat received one copy at our home on Salt Spring, while I received the second here at Friesens. It’s one thing to conceptualize artwork for cover dies, select the custom colour for the leather, design page layouts on the computer, manipulate image files to ensure the integrity of the original photography, etc.... and then quite another to hold the finished book in hand, the physical reality, the synthesis of all the ideas and effort, the presentation of all the imagery... it’s so satisfying!
Having received our two courier packages within minutes of one another, despite that Pat and I are some 2000 kilometres apart, we unwrapped the production proofs while on the phone with one another. We’re ever so pleased and we know you’ll be too! I presented the first copy to Curwin Friesen, a gift from Pat and I, and a tool to be used by the company when building the linen presentation boxes. As should be the case, the proofs also brought to light a few tweaks that are yet required of the brass die maker and our binder.
I have had a very full week, which is why you haven’t heard from me through to today. It has felt a bit like climbing a mountain, which is why I entitled this missive Deja Vu or Climbing Mt Fairweather.
Monday, May 23rd, at precisely 4:53 p.m. I reached a major milestone. I completed the inspection of the initial printing of LABYRINTH SUBLIME, reviewing some 250,000 pages to select the best 110,000 required. What an immense job this was! I’m quite relieved to have it behind me and to have it done well.
Friday morning 2:45 am was yet another milestone with the completion of the lithography and aqueous treatment of the “rework.” We reprinted 36 pages using all 14,000 sheets of custom-milled paper we had brought in to address issues of scratches and colour evident in the initial printing. This week was a little deja vu for certain, working with Friesens’ pre-press expert, then several shifts with the pressmen on the ManRoland for the colour work, followed by two part shifts with the pressmen on the Heidelberg for the aqueous sealing. Days were long and fatiguing. Friday late afternoon the sheets were cut, and yesterday through early afternoon, the flats were folded into pages.
All the staff at Friesens are now cognizant that LABYRINTH SUBLIME is unlike anything they’ve printed in the 104-year history of the company. Through my example of dedicated attention to the project and through my request to take additional care with our pages, operators handling our work are extra conscientious.
Ed Heppner, cutter, wears gloves and face mask while working on our sheets. Ed greeted me with a sunny, “Dr Ed is in, and I’m going to look after your baby.” The little things that help in a big way include: wearing gloves and changing them after handling equipment; putting a waste sheet (from another project) above and below each of our piles on the cutting station to guard our pages from scratching when slid on the table and handled; checking with a flashlight for kinks.
David, the folder operator in the following photos, invited me to direct the fine adjustments required to exactly position the fold. This isn’t so simple. Where an image comes to the gutter (where the sewing is), the fold must be knife edge along the image. A 1/16" over results in a sliver of image on the wrong side of the fold where it will be visible in the book as a dark vertical strip between two totally different pages; a 1/16" short means that a sliver of white from the reverse page will be an unwelcomed, visual interruption smack in the middle of a large double-page photo. No one setting of the folder is applicable to all sheets, because there are slight variations incurred during printing and cutting. Thus we set the fold position to optimize the number of good folds, and minimizing the percentage that will be out-of-tolerance and discarded.
For our project, Dave wears latex gloves and changes them frequently after handling his machine. Above he is positioning the four-page “flats” on the folder belt. And below he receives the folded pages.
David grips a bundle of pages which he’ll place on a pallet. I’m quite grateful that this time around there will be minimal fingerprints for me to deal with.
I’m happy to have the final pages already delivered and organized at my workstation. Yesterday I did a pre-sort so that this morning I can recommence the inspection process. I’ve only some 28 thousand new pages to check and insert the best into the book blocks. I’m optimistic that I’ll soon have approved pages ready for shipment to the bindery allowing me to fly home and rejoin Pat and our son in a week’s time.
Fortunately last afternoon’s tornado warning for southern Manitoba was lifted without drama. I learned that Friesens has two double-wall-concrete tornado shelters otherwise used as a shipping dock and the other serving as washrooms. Employees were instructed to proceed to the shelter if five blasts of the air siren were heard, and not to leave me behind. From blizzards, to floods, and now the potential of tornado... this has been quite the six-month period. Soon time to go home to the Inside Passage!
Best wishes to everyone!!!