Swap – Cathryn Miller, “L is for Lettering”

L is for Lettering by Cathyn Miller

You might remember that when I first finished “absences“, I offered to swap it. This post is about another book that I received in return: L is for Lettering by Cathryn Miller.

The bookblock is handbound (presumably without support) and then glued into the thick hemp paper covers that you can see in the picture above. The book block has been laser printed; each spread has one page that shows some scanned hand lettering.

L is for Lettering by Cathryn Miller

Unsurprisingly L is for Lettering is an alphabet book. In the photo above you see page “B”: The first word on the left starts with a “b” – “because”, and on the right hand side you see an example of the Baskerville Typeface.

Throughout the book, the lettering is being commented on in red pencil, remarking on flaws in the setup, like “uneven fill” or “untidy serifs”.

On the front flap of the cover, a little piece of the original lettering is included:

L is for Letterpress by Cathryn Miller

The text on the other pages tells the story how Cathryn, seeking to be educated as an artist, ended up in a design and lettering class with “Mr. M”. For good reason she deemed most of what she learned in that course useless, what with computers being used in the printing industry more and more. On the “V” and “W” pages, however, you can find her writing “I never imagined that I would one day use the skills that I learned that year, that I would actually use lettering and design and even layout to produce my artwork.”

L is for Lettering by Cathryn Miller

I love this book for many reasons. The first impression I had: I think I am in love with hemp paper! It seems strong, yet flexible. The paper used for the cover has about the thickness of cardstock, but has this textile quality that amazed me when I touched cotton paper for the first time. (When I first tried cotton paper, I thought I would never use any other paper ever again!) But compared to cotton paper – at least the one I usually use –  this is coarser and a bit stiffer. I love this roughness, and the grain this paper has… Well, I could keep on talking but I don’t want to bore you.

Then: I love alphabet books. As apparently does Cathryn because this is just one of several alphabet books she made. I count eight at Vamp and Tramp only. My husband M. is the one in the family with strong opinions on different typefaces, on how to set type and all that sourrounds text design. But like many things and ideas in a marriage, even out, I learned a great deal from him, and once you know about kerning for example, you cannot ignore faults anymore. So this book also feeds this part of me in a pleasant way.

And it was a pleasure to read a bit more about Cathryn’s artistic background, and her writing is entertaining and funny. Thank you very much for this fabulous book, Cathryn!


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