Written by Mindy Belloff, published on the Boxcar Press Blog September 2018:
As a book artist, letterpress printer, and educator, I have sent a wide variety of digital designs of artwork, student work, and job work for plate making. A few years ago, as a new livre d’artiste was in the works, Boxcar took notice of the beginning of the work. As I ﬁrmed up designs and sent a ﬂurry of large plate orders, I was asked about the scope of this project as it had piqued their interest. I was happy to share the text, but could not stop production and take time to send images of the various pages as I was working so intensely, designing by night and printing all day. I had close to 2,000 sheets in my studio in various stages of printing for over a year and a half.
Recently, they asked me to share more about the ﬁne edition book I have released, after two intense years of work, which follows.
The book titled, “A Golden Thread” is 92-pages in a format of folios, featuring the text of “The Minotaur,” a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1853). It is composed of 100 original drawings, some with hand painting, and 200 press runs, in an edition of 40, printed on cotton rag papers with a sheet size of approximately 15 x 21 inches. It is a contemporary twist on the medieval illumination, letterpress printed on a Vandercook Uni III automatic press.
The story begins in blue and gold ink, with our hero Theseus, as a young boy. As the story unfolds, Theseus grows to be a young man and journeys to Athens to ﬁnd his father, King Aegus.
Theseus has an unpleasant encounter with the wicked Medea before he finds and is embraced by his father. He soon learns of the fate of seven young men and seven maidens, to be chosen as a sacrifice to the Minotaur, a beast housed in the labyrinth of Crete. Theseus volunteers to sail to Crete with the youths. (By now, you may recall the details of this tragic myth.)
When the ship arrives in Crete, the evil King Minos throws them in the dungeon to await their fate. Enter the heroine Ariadne, who secretly releases Theseus and leads him to the entrance of a maze.
The middle section of the book, as Theseus makes his way through the labyrinth to ﬁnd the Minotaur, is designed with typography that blankets the page. The plates for this section were of course, quite large, and many pages were printed on one side of the sheet, and then turned (plates and paper), to accommodate the sheet size. Most pages have 5 to 6 press runs each.
In the third and ﬁnal section of the book, Theseus emerges victorious, having slain the bull-headed Minotaur monster. Our heroine awaits, still holding the golden thread at the entrance to the maze. Theseus and the other 13 youths sail back to Athens where they encounter more obstacles and tragedy, as expected in a classic Greek myth.
On the ﬁnal page of the story, our hero becomes King. Below is an image of the page showing two of the four-color press runs, which includes ornamented initials, and border drawings.
The book is hand sewn and beautifully bound with a blue leather spine and gold gilding.