The Bee Charm Booklet.. completed.


Hurrahhhh, I completed the first, possibly only, version of Wid Ymbe  last week. I posted the beginning of the project here

In short it is a front opening, double sided booklet containing the Anglo Saxon text of the wonderful charm and a translation.  When fully open it reveals an original print.

The cover and inside print are printed from woodcuts and the text blocks are digitally printed.

Making the Booklet:

For something which looks so simple it was very tricky to make. Just getting the cover to meet neatly in the middle with the face properly in line was one thing. The slight movement of the text pages as you open and close the flaps is lovely but again tricky to make work perfectly.

The cover is made with 1.5 mm greyboard, the front and back are covered with images hand printed on paper, I decided to use paper rather than cloth for the cover this time. Cloth was just too heavy in both look and feel for this slight thing and not as sympathetic to the subject. I like that it looks “papery”… the down side is that it marks almost instantly.

The 2 exterior “spines” are made with strips of calico backed with Japanese tissue.

Inside, the two digitally printed text blocks are sewn onto calico strips which cover the joints. Hand printed paper covered the reverse of the flaps.

The main print is tipped into its Japanese paper protective cover.


Some Details:

The booklet is specifically designed in two halves to reflect the dual aspects of the original text and translation, and the two aspects of the charm. The action and the speaking.

The cover opens to one of the talking heads and the Anglo Saxon text. I love the mystery of this text which is why I wanted this to feature on opening.

Opening these two pages reveals the other head, the translation and the illustrations which relate to the texts ie: the foot, the woods, the speaker  the scull, the hand and the earth.

Speaking a charm was very powerful and if said with conviction would summon some heavyweight help. The speaking heads had to have some power. The boldness of woodcut was better for this than the lino. The closed and gentle eye on the final print indicates the charm is done and the bees are returning home. There is a small bee near the mouth of the head. I dithered about which way to face it. But a gathering-in of the bee just seemed more appropriate than a leaving.

The colours changed in the making, I had started with reds and russets but again they were too heavy and as bees tend to swarm in the spring the mossy spring green worked out much better. The main prints inside varied in colour as I always like to experiment with colours and papers etc.
I am not really not too interested in making perfectly precise editions of anything. I honestly don’t think it really sits well with my personality. 🙂

Proofing the print

Before I could make the booklet I had to make various thickness tests  to make sure the flaps would fold properly. Then there were paper and colour tests for the prints and the digitally printed pages.


Many tests

The digital paper had to print on both sides, be thick enough not to have bleed through of the dark images and be sympathetic in colour and texture to the book. In the end I chose a Bockinford digital. It is lovely and printed beautifully and folded OK.

The paper I printed the cover on is a cream simili paper. I have worked with this before for bookbinding and it is thin enough to fold over and make corners but thick enough to take a good print.

The digital bit…

The whole faffing about with the digital element was extremely stressful.
The images for the text blocks were first handprinted from the woodblocks then scanned and the pages assembled in InDesign, each then printed as an individual booklet. I am pretty slow with Photoshop and InDesign but eventually got it all just right.

However the printing was a huge headache as my A3 Canon printer ( temperamental and expensive) won’t print a borderless custom size print  .. Why….%$*(&^% ing … ! not? So I had to print on larger paper and trim. Not a brilliant idea but had to be done. Then the colour on the screen is never the same when printed, the printer eats cartridges and the Bockingford too expensive to waste. I did endless trials and tests. I managed to get two sets printed… only then to find a spelling mistake .. Aghhh.

At last… correct text blocks!

Why the booklet?

I sometimes wonder why I make it so difficult .. why not just make a print?  That is hard enough ..god knows.

However I really like “a thing”. With this booklet, the printed cover and inside print are there to touch and, yes,… smell. ( am slightly addicted to the smell of ink).

Lovely ink plate

The prints are not hidden behind glass. You can turn the booklet around,  open and shut it, stand it up.  There is so much more engagement than with just a print.

To be able to touch handprinted work is a delight. The slick surface of the inked parts, the matt surface of the unprinted paper, the slight indentation of the block.

Those surfaces contrasted with the fineness of the Japanese guard tissue etc etc.
Nothing of this can be experienced from a screen.

A bee on the guard tissue drying in the sun

I will have to put it away for a while before I can look at it without seeing the mistakes or could-do-better bits, but in general I like it .. and I am very glad to have completed something!

All the woodcuts will printed separately and then framed up together with the texts… something I still have to sort out. That is one of this months jobs.

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  1. I get where you’re coming from with regards to print and this booklet (although that doesn’t seem a big enough word) is beautiful. I used to work in a graphic design studio for a small printers in Lymington in the 1990s, and to go downstairs into the print room, listen to the clunking of the presses (not digital then) and feel and smell the sheets coming off the machines, was a feast for the senses that I’ve never forgotten.

    Have you ever seen Elementum magazine (produced in Sherborne where they also have a gallery)? I can’t help thinking your work would fit perfectly with the content they feature – they have a page on FB and a website if you don’t know them.

    • Hi Jane .. Awww you are very kind. It has been a long stretch to get this done. when I am feeling less than creative too. I will def check out Elementum!Thank you.
      PS: bee box nearly full.I had a peep very early this am. The half full sectioned each contained a little snoozing bee waiting for the sun… Ahhh….

  2. What a treat for the eyes! I just love your creation – it’s beautiful. I know so much gets lost on the computer screen so I can only imagine how wonderful it is in real life. Congratulations on such an undertaking – you are the only one who will see any flaws. I too have issues with scanning/printing and never getting the colors even close to the original. I have a great scanner, an even better printer but Photoshop eludes me even though I’m fairly techy. So unimaginably frustrating! Anyway, I love your beautiful booklet – you should be proud!

    • Mary you are so kind.. Thank you! The printer/scanner issues had me near to tears. I am not sure why it all has to be so difficult. But anyway I learnt quite a bit along the way.
      Unfortunately I will probably have forgotten it all by the time I do another project! 🙂
      I really want to try to do more combined digital handprinted projects…which allows for some creative text additions ..BUT…..

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