Showing posts from December, 2009

Café Wall illusion

Returning to work on the Florilegium I decided to use details or elements of the scanned leaf prints to create geometric patterns. After a number of experiments exploring the possible variations I discovered I had created an image that was creating optical illusions. Horizontal rows appearing to coverge on alternate rows! I printed it out, but the illusion had dissapeared. It worked in InDesign, but not in print. Returning to the InDesign document I realized the on-screen version was displaying the image box strokes. Changing these to a colour that represented a midpoint in the image, it worked in print as well. Further investigation revealed I had re-created what is known as the "Cafè Wall Illusion", as described by Professor Richard Gregory .

Cooking and book making

You never forget how to ride a bike. But first, you have to learn, and then you can explore the world. So it is with cooking and book making. As a boy scout I learned how to scramble an egg, to make "benders" and "twisters", and how to bake potatoes in a "biscuit tin oven" (they ended up with an exquisite smoked flavour that I can now attribute to the oak wood fire I built around the "oven"). Today I scramble an egg without thinking, adding more butter and creamy milk and aromatic fresh ground black pepper than before and stirring all the ingredients together in the pan as I start to cook. I still recall the direction to remove the eggs from the heat before they finish cooking, otherwise they will separate. Like riding a bike, there are elements of cooking you never forget. But, as they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to scramble an egg. And so, more often than not I find myself searching for a n

Christmas Greetings

With best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year. David ************************************************* Download the card as a pdf and turn it into a Christmas ornament.

What format should I use for the Florilegium?

Early on in the creation of a book I begin to think about its format: the page size, dimensions, layout and design. And . . . my advice in Inside the Book is to also consider the best medium. For example: would the work be better suited to being printed letterpress (from photopolymer plates); or printed digitally (inkjet), in house; or sent out to a POD company; or produced as an e-book; perhaps a portfolio of prints; maybe an audio book, or perhaps a video? I also ask the question who is the intended reader, what is my market? I will write more on marketing in future posts. This begs the question, what is this book? At present Florilegium Solmentes is a growing number of digital “flowers” inspired by Luca Pacioli’s account of nature printing and the idea for a book. The book will begin with Pacioli’s text, in Italian and English with my commentary and a description of how I print from leaves etc. Included will be actual leaf prints, together with other impressions and interesti

Creating (dissecting) the digital flower

1 One leaflet was dissected from the blackberry (back) leaf image. 2. The image was modified in Photoshop. 3. The modified image was placed in an InDesign document 280 x 280 mm (11 x 11 inches), then duplicated and rotated around a central axis. 4. The "petals" are grouped together. 5. The group was duplicated, rotated and scaled down 6. The scaled down petals were pasted over the first group of petals 7. This procedure was repeated some nineteen times to create the finished flower.

Blackberry and Raspberry leaf prints

Blackberry (back) Blackberry (front) Ra spberry (back) R aspberry (front) The leaves of soft fruit printed very well. Prints from the back or underside of the leaf were generally more more detailed. Printing was messy and it was difficult to get sharp impressions. More scans to come . . . in the next post.

Luca Pacioli De Viribus Quantitatis

Opening from Pacioli’s De Viribus Quantitatis, folios 259v-260r, Biblioteca Universitaria, Bologna, codice n. 250. I began with this account of nature printing by Luca Pacioli from his De Viribus Quantitatis (On the power of numbers) and started printing from leaves. To learn how to reproduce single leaves, chiefly those with veins That is, those which have ribs or veins, such as the leaves of violets, lesser celandine, grapevine, sage, stonecrop, ox-tongue or roses. Take finely ground charcoal, or lampblack which is used to print books, and is much better. Mix it well, adding common oil, then with a sponge or brush spread it on a clean surface in a thick layer. Then take your leaf, well cleaned, put it vein side down on to the inked surface, and put a clean sheet of paper carefully on top of the leaf. Then press the paper with your hand or fingers, but not too hard, as the leaf should not be broken. Once the leaf is coated with black, put it on to another white sheet of

Solmentes Florilegium

David Way, Head of publishing at the British Library asked me to design Roderick Cave's new book Impressions of Nature: a history of nature printing. Consequently I was inspired to try my hand and this lead to the idea for a Solmentes book . . .

Ideas for Books

Books start life as ideas, when that idea develops it becomes work in progress. Ideas for books: Eighteenth Century British Essayists Parking Ramps Sunflower Sumatra Ode to Typography Portraits of printers Horace Odes Stockausen Jimi Hendrix Contemporary essayists [Bruce Whiteman] Work in Progress Solmentes Florilegium (Nature Printing) e-books: digitizing existing titles Inside the Book: revised second edition The Missing Pages

About David Esslemont

David Esslemont is an award-winning British artist, designer, printer, bookbinder, and publisher now living in America. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1953, Esslemont studied Fine Art (painting) at the Central School of Art and Design in London (now The University of the Arts). Among his tutors were Blair Hughes-Stanton and Cecil Collins. After leaving college he established his own press in Newcastle, where he printed, bound and published a number of books with wood engravings, including several with engravings by the eighteenth-century wood engraver Thomas Bewick and his contemporaries. To see David Esslemont's artwork . Fine printing in Wales From 1985 to 1997 Esslemont was Controller (managing and artistic director) of the Gregynog Press in Wales. At Gregynog he designed and printed several prize-winning books including Giraldus Cambrensis for which he won the Felice Feliciano Award for Book Design in 1991. He commissioned artists to illustrate the books a

About Solmentes Press

Solmentes Press and Solmentes are imprints of David Esslemont, a British artist, designer, printer, bookbinder, and publisher living in America. History Esslemont began publishing in 1978 and his books were issued with the imprint ‘David Esslemont’. The name Solmentes Press was created in 2000 and first used for Inside the Book. While appearing to have a higher meaning, Solmentes is simply an anagram of Esslemont. Letterpress His first books were hand-printed from metal type on a Columbian press, today they are still printed letterpress, but from photopolymer plates on a Heidelberg cylinder press. The letterpress books are generally categorized as ‘fine press’ and printed in limited editions of around 200 copies, sometimes less. Digital Inkjet printers are also used to make digital books and these tend to be classified as ‘artists books’. The subject matter of Esslemont’s books range from bibliography to poetry. My Fellow Citizens , Barack Obama’s inaugural address, is a new departu


This is my first blog. Welcome. I am an artist, I make books. It is my intention to give you, the reader, the collector, the curious, an insight into my creative thoughts and processes. Over thirty years ago I started to record such things in a series of notebooks with fanciful titles such as: "Notes, Theory, Experiment, Speculation on Art: a diary of my 'artistic' experiences". This blog is a continuation of those notebooks, with the focus now on the conception, writing, design and production of books. I hope you find something of interest.