Jenny's Picture Book Review: 'Black & White' by Dahlov Ipcar

I recently discovered Dahlov Ipcar's books, when Flying Eye Press republished a selection of them, including 'Black & White'. Dating from 1963 the artwork has a real retro charm, and the story, about a black and a white dog who live next to each other in friendship was apparently inspired by the civil rights movement. Most of all though, this is a great book to read and share with kids with plenty to look at and learn.

The story centres on the dogs' adventures, and their dreams, introducing a miriad of black and white animals along the way as they venture into the dark jungle and the bright Arctic.

While Ipcar's style is bold and decorative and very appealing to children, the animals are accurately portrayed. The illustrations are very printerly with a limited colour pallette, and were made using a 4-colour process, which the staff at Flying Eye had to painstakingly recreate as the originals were lost. This might sound like boring technical information but the difference from modern digital full colour printing is obvious and intrinsic to this beautiful book.

IMG_4186.JPG

Importantly, this book is great to read aloud to young children, with a pleasing rhyme scheme. In addition to all the animals to point out, there are spreads covered in butterflies, birds and fish which my daughter always likes to count, and we always have to pick our favourite.

I love the final page and it's pleasing closing lines, perfect for the moments before sleep:

'And each told the other his dream
Of the arctic storm and the jungle stream
And of all the animals black and white,
White as snow, black as night'

I must also mention the endpapers which are just GORGEOUS.

Amazingly, Ipcar, at the age of 98, is still working from her house in Maine. If you'd like to find out more this article from 2014 provides a good potrait.

Visit Flying Eye here. They currently publish four Ipcar titles - and lot of other highly desirable picture books.

Bloomfield out and about: A little bit of Litho

This week has been a print frenzy for Bloomfield. After the inspiration of Small Town Ink I headed home to Leicester and enjoyed a great day learning photo plate lithography with (hugely knowledgable) Serena Smith at Leicester Print Workshop.

I've previously dipped my toes in the water with stone lithography (again with Serena), before realising the time involved and the 100 miles between me and a workshop with facilities made it pretty impractical to persue. Whereas working on a stone is a labour of love, photo plate provides instant gratification and results - you can knock up a plate in minutes and be printing very soon after. Most people in the class worked with photographic imagery, but I, hoping to replicate the wonderful textures of my previous lithographic adventures, did some quick drawings on film which I then exposed onto a plate. 

Serena inking up

Serena inking up

Ta da!

Ta da!

My arboreal themed plates!

My arboreal themed plates!

I'm thrilled with the results and inspired to return for a day soon to get an edition going. Just don't ask me to explain how lithography works... I still consider it some kind of dark magic.

Bloomfield out-and-about: Small Town Ink print day, Leeds

Just in from a great afternoon at the Small Town Ink print day at Leeds University, and writing an uncharacteristically prompt blog post while I have half an hour to spare.

It was aimed at students, designers and creatives who lack knowledge of real old fashioned print processes. There was an emphasis on letterpress with workshops where you could make your own print on some large galley proofing presses and small Adana-style presses (Richard Lawrence made derisory comments about the Adana, but the name of his press made of 'proper metal' escapes me*).

Both Print Project and Richard Lawrence  (print engineer "My kicks is getting ink to stick to paper") gave informative talks and had their presses set up for everyone to have a go. They were both a mine of information and it was great fun, I got my hands nice and dirty.  (A great warm up for the Letterpress course Rolfe and I are booked on next month!!).

There were also some tempting prints and zines for sale and I easily disposed of my designated £20. 

Richard Lawrence showing off a  precious Thom Yorke special edition sleeve he printed... only one was ever distributed to some lucky so-and-so who has remained anonymous.

Richard Lawrence showing off a  precious Thom Yorke special edition sleeve he printed... only one was ever distributed to some lucky so-and-so who has remained anonymous.

My first print.... which was, incidentally, nicked by someone when I left it to dry (students, bah). 2nd go wasn't as gloriously bright.

My first print.... which was, incidentally, nicked by someone when I left it to dry (students, bah). 2nd go wasn't as gloriously bright.

on the 'non'-Adana

on the 'non'-Adana

The actual Adana

The actual Adana

Nick from the Print Project

Nick from the Print Project

Richard Lawrence with an Artists book he printed

Richard Lawrence with an Artists book he printed

Lino and wooden type combo

Lino and wooden type combo

IMG_6890.JPG

* I've since worked out it was a Sigwalt.

Tom Frost's postage stamps

I love postage stamps, and have dabbled with large scale screen prints myself (see below bottom 2 photos) - I especially like the qualities of old stamps which were printed on cheap paper in a limited colour palette and which speak of long distances and the long lost art of correspondence. So I am rather smitten by these original designs by Tom Frost, which combine that wonderful aesthetic with fine British creatures. Bravo! http://theboyfrost.bigcartel.com/

20120612-211724.jpg

20120612-211733.jpg

20120612-212130.jpg

20120612-212538.jpg