Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jan Kellett - De Walden Press

Jan Kellett from De Walden Press was the only Canadian exhibitor at the Miniature Book Society Conclave on Sunday, August 11. Her passion for miniature books is obvious in the exquisite artistry and excellent craft with which her books are created. They are small jewels in limited editions, designed, written and illustrated by Jan, printed in letterpress and leather bound.

Jan Kellett at the MBS Conclave in August 2013

Out of the books displayed, it was Storming Shakespeare that caught my attention most. It is a beautiful book of 73 mm x 65 mm x 28 mm which comes with a leather-trimmed slipcase, in a Varied Edition of 20, all numbered and signed. This means each book is unique, due to the monotype printing technique.

Storming Shakespeare springs from Jan's passion for Shakespeare, and in this book she chose to focus on the presence of storms in three of his plays: Julius Caesar, King Lear and The Tempest. The book consists of three sections: the first is an essay exploring the meaning of storms in the three plays, the second contains quotations from Julius Caesar and King Lear, while the last deals with the storms in The Tempest.

This section is the most fascinating part of the book, with illustrations and quotations printed on Japanese handmade gampi tissue, which gives it a charming surreal quality that complements the theme of the book and the mood of the play. In Jan's words, here she tried to create a "suspension of belief." She imagined what a whole stage production would look like in a book format, with stage lighting represented by the coloured background, and the volatile words and illustrations moving before the eyes of the reader.

Craft and symbolism intertwine throughout the whole making of the book. Storming Shakespeare is bound in blue-purple leather that reminds of heavy storm clouds. The illustration on the cover represents the four elements affected by the events in each play. The paper used is Magnani Pescia Book with pastepaper endpapers in ultramarine blue with gold flakes. The construction of the book is also original. The book can be closed with ribbon on one side and a silver hook and loop on the other.

De Walden Press is located on Vancouver Island and specializes in miniature books, no larger than three inches. All books are handmade by Jan Kellett using quality materials.

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