September 30, 2008
I recently completed my first full-fledged project on my home letterpress setup.
I made a greeting card with an excerpt from Virgil’s Aeneid. On the inside of the card is a translation of same excerpt, an homage to translator Robert Fagles, who died recently. The text is from book VI of the epic poem, where Aeneas is wandering around the underworld and receiving wisdom from his father, Anchises. The verse I used is spoken by Anchises. I find it an interesting passage as it has a metaphysical, modern feel to it.
I also chose the passage because it reminded me of a friend whose birthday was coming up, so I worked extra hard to get these done and packaged for that birthday party.
I also enjoyed setting Latin text because I have “ae” ligatures (and “oe”, though this passage did not require it) in my new Caslon. Setting the drop caps (48-pt. Excelsior Script) required tin snips to make my own unique, custom leading, as the letterforms stick out into the surrounding areas. The front, Latin bit is set ragged right (as it’s in verse form).
The red fleuron (ivy-shaped icon) was the last step of the project and the one part where I went for pretty deep impression. The rest of the piece doesn’t show much impression, though even with my gentleness I managed to break the serifs off of not one but two ‘f’s. Yeep.
Note that the interior, English translation is justified. This is the first time I’ve ever set justified text. I think it worked out all right.