The concept might seem simple; the book features rhymes about cats, mice, an orange fish, a bicycle ride in the depopulated city at night and a workbench cluttered with tools. But Gill didn’t just write the rhymes; he literally made the book – illustrating, carving, typesetting, printing and binding 100 copies.
“Literally making a children’s book—writing the rhymes, drawing the pictures, carving the wood blocks, setting the type, printing the words and blocks on a manual letterpress machine, stitching, and binding an edition of 100 copies—has been many things: a labor of love, a learning process, a blow stricken for the Old School,” Gill writes in his blog. “It’s also been a manufacturing job.”
Gill has made other books like this before; he often gives unique books as gifts, and has made the books Clam Boy and Big Sister Kitty Liberate the Tree and the Sun and Moon and the Entire Landscape and Clam Boy and Big Sister Kitty Begin, or The Forty Ounce Puddle of Glass, in a similar fashion.
But he calls this his most ambitious project yet, with each copy of Common Household Rhymes for the Modern Child needing 74 wood blocks, eight linoleum blocks and one block cobbled together out of wood and copper wire.
Gill said he chose to build the book this way because of the connection it allows him to then build with everyone who reads a copy.
“For kids learning to read in the early 21st century, holding a book manufactured entirely by one person using mechanical processes is an exotic experience,” he says in his blog. “When my kids and yours read this, I hope they connect with the fact that one person did it, from start to finish.”
Gill’s book will be officially released Dec. 2 at William Busta Gallery in Cleveland (2731 E Prospect Avenue Cleveland). A book release party, with wine and hors d’oeuvres, will take place from 6-9 p.m. The woodcut illustrations from the book will be on display.