Sara Langworthy, “New Patterns in Old Style”
Artist: Sara Langworthy (Iowa City, IA)
Title: New Patterns in Old Style
Medium/technique(s): Letterpress printed from photopolymer plates on Kozo, Kitakata and handmade papers. Bound in a modified limp paper binding, housed in a clamshell box.
Edition size: 24
Number of pages: 34
Dimensions, open: 9.5 x 17.5 x .25″
Dimensions, closed: 9.75 x 8.75 x .25″
I want to call attention to beauty in unremarkable places: the grey of wet concrete seen through worn out holes in a leaf on the sidewalk, light reflected on the wall in midafternoon. A highly restrained palette gives emphasis to differences between closely related but separate things. The artist book format provides an inherent two-sidedness. For every page, each front is also a back. The only way to view the entire piece is to relinquish a part of it. With print, I am most interested in edges; where two color blocks overlap or nearly touch, the areas where ink saturates the paper, making you aware of both the printed surfaces and the paper acting a as mediating substrate between the pages. The ease and immediacy of printing on a Vandercook press creates a circumstance where experimentation exists concurrently with the editioning practice. My process is more akin to collaging with printed elements at the press than to strategic letterpress design and production. Spontaneity exists alongside a thought out page and careful presswork. I work back and forth between written words and pictorial elements; images are inspired by a text, and texts grow from images.
New Patterns in Old Style depicts an attempt to inhabit two opposing states at once. The text is reconfigured from the dual definition of the homonym “cleave,” and language used in tatting instructions. Images are built from layers of printed leaves, using both the positive and negative shapes formed when leaves were blown up to 400%, and cropped to rectangular frames. The long rectangles and overlapping leaf silhouettes reference sewing instructions clipped from newspapers, pinned on pages of an abandoned workbook. New Patterns is composed of two sections. The first signature is printed primarily in grey, and introduces the word “cleave” as an element. The second signature is printed using a saturated pink and orange palette, and presents the binary instructional language found in sewing instructions (join, shuttle, tie, cut, etc.). A formal constraint of the project is to use only papers I have in my collection, and to revisit previous half-started prints and book ideas sharing a tie to themes of duality and opposing forces. The number of these prints and half-starts determined the edition size of the book. Image and text are printed from photopolymer plates, with additional hand-brushed sumi-e ink washes, on an assortment of Japanese and handmade papers. Types used are Dante and Bulmer. The book is sewn in a modified limp paper binding and housed in a clamshell box.