Celebrating the Handmade at the Logan Elm Press with Pink Paper, Linzer Cookies and a Chili-Infused Keepsake

The reverse of Bob Tauber's business card, on paper made from jeans

After a long Wednesday strategizing about knowledge and issues related to disability retirement, I bolted for an open house celebrating the new home of the Logan Elm Press and the Ohio State University Libraries’ Center for Book Arts.

While Lucy grazed under a tree shading the easiest parking place I’ve ever found at Ohio State, I marveled at some extraordinary examples of craftsmanship inside.

The Logan Elm Press publishes handmade, limited-edition books and other printed works created by those affiliated with Ohio State, while the Center for Book Arts preserves traditional book arts by providing teaching and learning opportunities for artists, writers and craftspeople. Their new home is on Kinnear Road, in the former location of Columbus Wood Products, where an abundance of natural light made all the difference in appreciating all the fine things that were on display.

Making watermarked pink paper with a deckle and mold

Making watermarked pink paper with a deckle and mold

Inside the door, an exhibit case filled with artists’ books set the tone for the unique items on view. At the back of the room, a student made striking pink-hued paper in a small mill. She sifted the slurry through a deckle and a mold that had bent wires attached to its surface, creating a watermark of the Logan Elm name on the paper.

Bob Tauber, the creator of my souvenir from the “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World” exhibit, showed me some limited-edition letterpress broadsides commemorating writers’ visits to Ohio State during 1993 and 1994, as well as some current offerings from the Logan Elm Press.

Solche Sensationen: Food & Philosophical Reflections of Chef Hubert Seifert, is a distinctive work about Seifert, the native of Aachen, Germany who owns the Grandview restaurant, Spagio, and is the father of Nicole, a CSG classmate of mine. Bob designed the book, which features hand-calligraphed initial letters and twelve illustrated menus printed from copper plates on an intaglio press. The book is limited to 26 numbered copies (only eight copies remain for sale), all signed by the chef, author, artist, calligrapher and designer. Each book is housed in a drop-spine box covered in black Italian linen with one of the original copper intaglio monoprint plates inlaid into the cover.

My tactile nature took over when I saw a small book in the most wonderful shade of red. Measuring just 4 ¾ by 3 ¼ inches, Forty Starr Chili, by wood engraver Dale Starr, is hand-sewn, wrapped over boards with handmade paper infused with the aroma of chili!

limited-edition letterpress broadsides commemorating writers’ visits to Ohio State during 1993 and 1994

Family connections led to my third favorite item on display. As my grandmother delved into our family tree, my grandfather didn’t need any genealogical research to prove how proud he was of his first cousin once removed, Philip Cochran. A colonel in the United States Army Air Corps, Cochran received awards for his distinguished service as a pilot in World War II. Besides dating Betty White, our cousin’s other social accomplishment was meeting Milton Caniff while the two attended Ohio State. Cochran served as the model for characters in Caniff’s comic strips, Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon.

So, of course, I was drawn to Milton Caniff and “Now In My Day,” a keepsake printed for the centennial celebration of Caniff’s birth. The frontispiece features a woodcut portrait of Caniff by Sidney Chafetz, professor emeritus of art at Ohio State, while an original essay by Edward Brunner reveals Caniff’s contributions to American popular culture. The work concludes with personal commentary by Gordon Gee. Limited to 150 numbered and signed copies, this edition comes with a color poster of Caniff’s “Now in My Day…,” which he wrote in 1968 for an alumni edition of Ohio State’s student newspaper, The Lantern.

Harry's work table, filled with “Dick Tracy” artwork and other Special Collections items being conserved

Across the hall from Bob’s domain, my new friend, Gay, and Harry, my friend of a longer duration, gave me an interesting tour of the rest of the Ohio State University Libraries Tech Center. In this part of the building, the libraries’ cataloging, conservation, digital imaging, bindery preparation and other collection maintenance activities take place. After I saw where Melanie, my library school classmate, coordinates authority control and database maintenance for the libraries, I came upon some original “Dick Tracy” artwork and other Special Collections items in various stages of being cared for by Harry, the libraries’ book and paper conservator.

Before I left, I treated myself to a heart-shaped Linzer cookie, one of a lineup of treats for guests to enjoy. What a perfect end to a great party!

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