A Look at Shanty Bay Press

{Ed. Note: Thank you to Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler for their many replies with information and pictures. Also to Crispin Elsted for his many comments, and to Eyal Reingold and Elizabeth Bosman for their comments. Lastly, putting this article together shows me, yet again, how invaluable a resource ‘Parenthesis’ is, so please support FPBA and subscribe  to ‘Parenthesis’!}

Shanty Bay Press is a private fine press that publishes stunning livres d’artistes in which  “the texts and the illustrations accompanying them have equal weight in the design of the books.” The Press was established in Shanty Bay, Ontario, in 1996 by Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler. Mr. Bachinski does the illustrations, and Ms. Butler does the type-setting, presswork and binding. Design, editorial and publishing decisions are shared. Their published books are represented in prestigious public collections throughout Canada (National Gallery, National Library and many more) and the United States (Library of Congress, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Stanford and many more) , as well as in the United Kingdom (the British Library, Oxford, and more).

Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler of Shanty Bay Press, from CODEX 2011, Photo from FPBA (http://fpba.com/blog/?tag=walter-bachinski)
Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler of Shanty Bay Press, from CODEX 2011, Photo from FPBA

The press’s equipment includes a Vandercook SP20, Vandercook Universal 1, double crown Washington hand press (1836), an etching press, and a growing collection of type. Here is a look at their studio.

Shanty Bay Press, The Studio
Shanty Bay Press, The Studio
Shanty Bay Press, From Pastel to Pochoir
Shanty Bay Press, From Pastel to Pochoir
Shanty Bay Press, Working the Pochoir from the Pastel
Shanty Bay Press, Working the Pochoir from the Pastel

Mr. Bachinski has had a long and distinguished career as a printmaker, sculptor and painter. His work is in private and public collections across Canada, the U.S. and Europe and has been included in solo and group exhibition in galleries and museums across Canada and the world. His work often has a serious depth of color exploration with pastels and now often examines the idea of Still Life. Dorota Kozinska refers to Mr. Bachinski as a ‘classical modernist’ which, after extensively reviewing much of his work, seems to me to be quite accurate. Mr. Bachinski explores classical themes while carrying forward many artistic elements of such, but also weaves modernistic interpretations into the overall structure of his creations. The result is visually stunning, thoughtful works that successfully blend the best of both stylistic visions.

Shanty Bay Press, the tao of repetitive tasks (pochoir)
Shanty Bay Press, Walter Bachinski working what he calls “the tao of repetitive tasks (pochoir)!”
Shanty Bay Press, Walter Bachinski in the Pastel Studio
Shanty Bay Press, Walter Bachinski in the Pastel Studio

Mr. Bachinski’s art is simply fantastic, the style is one in which I love. The following are a few of my favorites.

Bouquet of Flowers, Pastel on Paper
Bouquet of Flowers, Pastel on Paper
Walter Bachinksi, Studio Still Life with Model, Sunflowers and Lemons
Studio Still Life with Model, Sunflowers and Lemons, Pastel on Paper
Birth of Venus II, Pastel on Paper
Birth of Venus II, Pastel on Paper
Standing Figure (Female), Bronze
Standing Figure (Female), Bronze

Ms. Butler has a degree in English from the University of Waterloo and has undertaken extensive studies in studio work (chiefly painting) at York University. She studied printing with George Walker at Ontario College of Art and Design, with Crispin and Jan Elsted at Barbarian Press and with Clare Bolton at Alembic Press.  She studied binding with Betsy Palmer Eldridge and Reg Beatty in Toronto. She taught studio art and art history at Georgian College (now retired), and is active as a painter. Ms. Butler hand-sets each book, letter by letter. The typological approach is influenced by early 20th century English fine press books, the American designer Bruce Rogers and the Cranach Press of Count Harry Kessler.  You will likely recognize this influence in the photos below. The presswork of Ms. Butler is simply outstanding.

Shanty Bay Press, Janis Butler printing
Shanty Bay Press, Janis Butler printing

The publications of Shanty Bay Press have revolved around classical works. Their bibliography includes Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, Virgil‘s Georgics, Virgil’s Eclogues, the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, and CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque. It is this focus on classical work, combined with Mr. Bachinski’s classically modern interpretation of the work and Ms. Butler’s skillful publication that places Shanty Bay Press amongst the pinnacle of today’s livre d’artiste private presses. Don’t just take my word for it, here are thoughts on the Press from Crispin and Jan Elsted of Barbarian Press:

One of the real pleasures Shanty Bay Press books afford lies in their having reached back to the foundations of our literature and into one of the richest parts of the history of the illustrated book to produce their work. To have such fine, beautifully printed and illustrated editions in which to read the Greek and Roman classics reminds us all over again of the cultural importance of these poems and stories. 
 
Like the Bible and Shakespeare, the classics of antiquity are often so badly printed — presumably on the cynical assumption that people will have to buy them however they look — that they are unpleasant to read, with their tiny type in ugly double columns and their badly printed and cropped reproductions from classical art. Here, in Shanty Bay’s books, we have fine type beautifully set on generous pages, and illustrations in pochoir whose vivid colours echo the sensual pleasures such writers as Homer, Ovid, and Virgil took in the stories they wrote and the language in which they couched them. These joyous effects also provide dazzling reflections of the intriguingly selected poems and prose in the two Shanty Bay books devoted to the circus. 
 
Walter Bachinski’s images hark back for their tropes to the heyday of the French livre d’artist, although their evocations of those works are not imitative, but celebratory. His illustrations share the vividness of the texts and ‘set’ them in rather the way a composer might set a poem to music: the result is complementary, the effect lucid and illuminating. Janis Butler’s presswork and binding, and the types chosen, provide a perfect counterpoint. Their most recent book, Stories from the Metamorphoses, enters a more subtle world, with striking photogravures, printed from intaglio plates, taken from charcoal and pastel drawing by Walter Bachinski, with only slight touches of red and silver for colour in the book. It is a new direction for the press, and a fascinating one. Clearly the journey is ongoing, and promises new approaches. 
Eyal Reingold and Elizabeth Bosman, two early supporters of Shanty Bay Press (and collectors with all of their publications) mention a similar theme:
We feel truly lucky to own all the books published by Shanty Bay Press. Paging through these books and viewing the illustrations is like taking an intimate journey to a place where time and space endlessly extend, and where the polluting noise of modern life fades away. This meditative journey takes us towards what endures – the classics. In what can only be described as a labour of love, Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler devote careful thought and attention into designing every aspect of the books. Having personally observed this creative process, we have seen how they carefully consider and investigate the different versions and/or translations of the text, the choice of illustration techniques (e.g., woodcut, pochoir, photogravure), the layout of the pages, the style of the fonts, the type of paper, and the binding of the book. All of these decisions are made with great care and respect. Walter and Janis always aim to find the combination of elements that produces the most harmonious and aesthetic whole possible.

Without further adieu, let’s take a detailed look at the works of Shanty Bay Press.

Stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses

This work includes a selection of 15 stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. They have chosen familiar tales including the “Transformation of Daphne”, the ”Story of Phaeton”, and the stories of Pygmalion and Polyphemus. These archetypal myths have influenced literature, music and the visual arts for many centuries. As mentioned in the preface to the book, Metamorphoses “speaks to us directly because it captures more of the ups and downs of life, the ever changeful nature of existence, and the capriciousness and darkness of life.” Also important, it “freed the artist to approach the human form in new and inventive ways and the human body was removed from its religious context to reveal the beauty of the form itself.” The translation used in this edition is the one compiled by Sir Samuel Garth in 1715, in which he used  leading poets of the era such as John Dryden, Joseph Addison, Arthur  Mainwaring, Laurence Eusden, and Samuel Croxall. This translation, along with that of Arthur Golding of 1587, remain the greatest and is an excellent choice.

This publication from Shanty Bay Press is the first in which Mr. Bachinski, whose previous works gave us generous exploration and use of color, choose to use black and white, with photogravures taken from charcoal and black pastel drawings to start each story. Originally planning on use of woodcut and pochoir, the switch in approach was done to allow Mr. Bachinski a greater ability to achieve the subtle transitional areas and tonal variations needed for his vision of this work. Jon Goodman, the world’s leading practitioner of photogravure, mentions in the preface more details about the process followed:

Photogravure is a true continuous-tone ink printing technique.   A photogravure is an intaglio print, much like an etching, engraving, aquatint or mezzotint.  The various steps of the photogravure process use technologies from the 19th century (carbon printing) to the 21st century (the latest digital scanning) to create a copper aquatint plate that has been drawn photographically. The tonal values of the original drawing, from the rich black of the charcoal drawing to the white of the paper, have been rendered into  cells etched to varying depths according to their tone. Dense ink is applied to the plate and fills the cells. The ink is then wiped from the surface and the plate is placed on the bed of an etching press. Dampened paper is laid on the plate, covered with printing felts, and passed between the rollers of the press under heavy pressure. The felts are then removed and the paper is lifted from the plate. The image in ink has been transferred from the plate to the paper.  The final image on paper  is made of a layer of ink whose thickness varies continuously according to the depth of tone of the image. When viewed under a microscope, a photogravure print is seen to be in three-dimensional relief, with a thicker layer of ink in the shadows and dark tones and thinner layers in the light tones and highlights.

Back to Mr. Elsted for some comments (further flushed out in the upcoming Parenthesis 26) on the success Mr. Bachinski achieves by his artistic choice in his work for Metamorphoses:

The richness of the photogravures is a palpable darkness, and the variations of shadow, light, and utter blackness provide a subtlety which is surely unique to this medium. I hope this book will inspire other publishers to consider photogravure in some of their projects. It is being revived by a small group of practitioners, and given the effects these pictures achieve it deserves continuing exploration.

The art is passionate, provocative and a blend of iconic and new. Look especially below at the illustrations for ‘The Story of Calisto’, ‘The Story Narcissus’, ‘The Story of Arethusa’ and ‘The Story of Pygmalion‘, all of which perfectly evoke with rich, yet subtle, imagery the emotional drama and characterizations of the stories.  The use of color pochoir for the title and initial lettering adds a nice touch, adding some depth to the overall presentation. The binding is perfectly classical in nature. In short, this is a stunningly beautiful production of one of the greatest works of literature. The art is thoughtful and evocative, the design and presswork top-notch. It is a ‘must-have’ edition!

About the Edition

  • This is a large book with a page size 36.8 by 25.4 cm (14.5″ by 10″)
  • There are 152 pages including blanks
  • The type is hand-set Bembo, printed on 200 gsm Arches Cover
  • Each of the 15 stories begins with a photogravure of a drawing to illustrate the story;  Walter Bachinski worked on the drawings over a period of a year and then had them made into photogravures by Jon Goodman who also printed the plates
  • There are 70 copies available in two states. The Regular Edition, numbered 1-60 is quarter bound in calfskin with Japanese Gampi paper over boards;  The Deluxe Edition, numbered I-X is fully bound in calf skin with a portfolio containing an extra set of the photogravures from the book
  • Both editions are slip cased

Pictures of the Edition:

Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page (Apollo, Pochoir)
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page (Apollo, Pochoir)
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text and Pochoir Initial
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text and Pochoir Initial
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Transformation of Daphne
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Transformation of Daphne
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Transformation of Io
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Transformation of Io
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Phaeton
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Phaeton
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of  Calisto
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Calisto
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Birth of Bacchus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Birth of Bacchus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story Narcissus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story Narcissus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story 0f Pentheus and Bacchus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story 0f Pentheus and Bacchus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Pyramus and Thisbe
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Pyramus and Thisbe
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press,  The Story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press,  The Story of Arethusa
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Arethusa
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press,  The Story of Niobe
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Niobe
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press,  Hercules, Nessus and Deianira
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, Hercules, Nessus and Deianira
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press,  The Story of Pygmalion
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Pygmalion
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Venus and Adonis
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Venus and Adonis
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press,  The Story of Polyphemus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, The Story of Polyphemus
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press,  Colophon with pochoir
Metamorphoses, Shanty Bay Press, Colophon with pochoir

CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque

CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque is a major and beautiful work that contains a variety of writings from late 19th and early 20th centuries loosely based on the idea of the artist and the circus. The authors include Guillaume Apollinaire, Cyril Beaumont, Charles Baudelaire, Henry Miller, Rainer Maria Rilke and Mark Twain. Shanty Bay Press explains the motivation for this work as follows:

Many artists, writers, dancers and musicians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were drawn to the theme of the circus, often exploring the notion of the artist as performer. Picasso and Cezanne, both of whom have influenced Bachinski, have made great circus paintings. He, himself, has used circus imagery in many of his pastels and the circus has fascinated him ever since he was a little boy.

The excerpts are different in both style and content: they are funny, surreal, serious and poignant. Together with the illustrations we hope to evoke the richness of the circus experience, where there are three rings of simultaneous activity, with something different happening in each one.

This content certainly allows Mr. Bachinski an opportunity to showcase his brilliant mastery of color, and the interplay of which, to perfectly represent the aura that the writing and illustrations are meant to convey (see especially his Baudelaire pochoir and the Saltimbanques linocut, both below).  Bruce Whiteman, in a review in Parenthesis 22, comments on the illustrations in Circus:

Bachinski’s illustrations are of two kinds, consisting of four pochoir images and eight multicoloured linocuts. As always in Shanty Bay Press books, these are imaginatively conceived and beautifully printed. The pochoirs are rich and layered, and the linocuts, if more one dimensional by definition, are nevertheless striking and clearly related to the text of the book…Bachinski’s and Butler’s books always strive to integrate illustration and text, and although this is not done literally – the images are unfailingly printed on separate leaves which they never share with type – the books have a seamless quality all the same. The one-colour linocut used on the upper board, printed red on black paper, is very striking.

About the Edition

  • The book measures 37.8 x 26.6 cm (14.8″ x 10.5″) and there are 72 pages including blanks
  • The book is hand-set 18 point Deepdene on 200 gsm Arches cover
  • The book is quarter bound in cloth and Somegami paper and is housed in a cloth-covered slipcase
  • It has been designed jointly by Janis Butler and Walter Bachinski
  • There are 4 full page pochoirs and 8 multi-coloured linocuts created and executed by Walter Bachinski
  • Printing on a Vandercook Universal 1 and binding were done by Janis Butler
  • Limited to 55 copies

Pictures of the Edition:

CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Table of Contents
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Table of Contents
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Acknowlegments
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Acknowlegments
Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #1 (Preface)
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #1 (Preface)
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, List of Illustrations
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, List of Illustrations & Twain Pochoir
Sample Text #2
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #2
Shanty Bay Press, List of Illustrations, Nijinsky lino
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Nijinsky linocut
Shanty Bay Press, List of Illustrations, Sample Text #3
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #3
Shanty Bay Press, List of Illustrations, Sample Text #5 and Nijinsky pochoir
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Nijinsky pochoir
Shanty Bay Press, List of Illustrations, Sample Text #6
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #4
Shanty Bay Press, List of Illustrations, Sample Text #7 & Little Pierrot linocut
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Little Pierrot linocut
Shanty Bay Press, List of Illustrations, Picasso Pierrot linocut
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Picasso Pierrot linocut
Sample Text #7
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #5
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #8
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #6
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Picasso pochoir
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Picasso pochoir
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Pierrot and Death
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Pierrot and Death
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #7
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #7
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Pierrot and Death linocut
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Pierrot and Death linocut
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #8
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #8
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Baudelaire pochoir
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Baudelaire pochoir
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #9
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Text #9
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Saltimbanques linocut
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Saltimbanques linocut
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Colophon
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Colophon

Virgil’s Georgics

Virgil’s Georgics was published sometime around 29 B.C. and is the second major work of Virgil (after Eclogues, also done by Shanty Bay Press, which you will see below).  The subject of the work is agriculture, with books focusing on animal husbandry and the life of bees, but with a deep contemplation on the conflict between man and nature.  Virgil recommends a simple country life over that of living in a city with its corrupting nature. The book is not overtly political, though there are references that can be construed to be political in nature (keep in mind the writing of this was completed soon after the many turbulent years of the Roman Civil War).  The work has been, and continues to be, a major influence throughout the Western Canon.

Georgics provides plenty of opportunity for an artist attuned to Virgil’s message. Mr. Bachinski, once again, nails this with images that are simply perfect (just look at the landscape pochoir for Book I and the stomping of grapes woodcut in Book II). Each book of the Georgics begins with a half-title pochoir, surrounded by a color, reflecting the nature of the content. As for the illustrations, they are glorious.  Once again, let me turn to Mr. Elsted, this time from Parenthesis 15:

That said, what sets the Georgics apart from the earlier Shanty Bay books is not only the pochoirs, glorious as they are, but the eight magnificent woodcuts which define the labour which Virgil writes about even as the colour illustrations celebrate its spirit. These full-page cuts, spaced evenly throughout the book, two to each section, rest the eye and address the ideas of the text, allowing the reader to be a reader rather than simply to gaze, awestruck, at the wonderful beauty of the book as a whole….It seems clear that Butler and Bachinski recognized the danger that the pochoirs alone might distract from the purpose of the book, and hit on the idea of the woodcuts as the structural illustrative thread through the text. At one brilliant stroke, these eight cuts settle the tempo of the book, define its key and orchestration, and guide the eye from motif to motif, while the pochoirs provide entr’actes to the distinct sections of the poem. This is not to privilege either medium over the other: what has been achieved is an exhilarating balance.

I completely agree. What a beautiful book!

About the Edition

  • 6 pochoir illustrations and 8 woodcuts by Walter Bachinski
  • Woodcuts printed on heavy Kurotani 5
  • Handset and printed with Bembo on 200 gsm Arches Cover
  • Translated by Robert Wells
  • 127 pages including blanks; 14 ¼ by 10 inches
  • Limited to 60 copies

Pictures of the Edition:

Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book One Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book One Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book One Initial
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book One Initial
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book One Woodcut #1
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book One Woodcut #1
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book One Woodcut #2
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book One Woodcut #2
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Two Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Two Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Two Initial
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Two Initial
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Two Woodcut #1
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Two Woodcut #1
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Two Woodcut #2
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Two Woodcut #2
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Three Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Three Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Three Initial
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Three Initial
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Three Woodcut #1
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Three Woodcut #1
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Three Woodcut #2
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Three Woodcut #2
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Initial
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Initial
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Woodcut #1
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Woodcut #1
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Woodcut #2
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Woodcut #2
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Book Four Pochoir
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Pochoir
Colophon
Georgics, Shanty Bay Press, Colophon

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite

The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns, currently thought to have been written between the seventh and sixth centuries BC. These hymns celebrate the Gods of Greek mythology. The hymns were historically attributed to Homer himself, though their being called ‘Homeric’ refers to the fact that they utilize the same epic meter as did Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey. I am thrilled Shanty Bay Press tackled one of these hymns, that being that to Aphrodite; my only complaint is I wish they would do more! The ‘Seduction Pochoir’ below, as well as the woodcut on the title page, are especially beautiful.

About the Edition

  • Translated by Susan C. Shelmerdine
  • Preface by Walter Bachinski
  • With 3 full page pochoir illustrations and 3 two-colour woodcuts by Walter Bachinski
  • Handset on Somerset Satin paper 250 gsm using Bembo type
  • 40 pages including blanks, 13 x 9 3/16 inches
  • Limited to 100 copies

Pictures of the Edition:

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Anchises Pochoir
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Anchises Pochoir
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Aphrodite Woodcut
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Aphrodite Woodcut
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Seduction Pochoir
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Seduction Pochoir
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Anchises Woodcut
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Anchises Woodcut
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Young Aeneas Pochoir
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Young Aeneas Pochoir
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Colophon
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Colophon

Circus

Some number of years prior to when Shanty Bay Press published ‘CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque’, with writings from major 19th and 20th century writers, they published a set of five poems thematically associated with the circus, appropriately titled ‘Circus‘. As in the later exploration, Mr. Bachinski’s pochoirs for this edition are poetic themselves, with deft use of color, and depth contained within the more surface level fantastical elements.

William Moore, in Parenthesis 8 writes:

Bachinski’s use of pochoir, difficult and laborious as it is, suggests the garishness of the circus poster applied with the elegance and skill of this artist’s hand. But here the hand has much to say. The choice of literature shifts between the direct and the ephemeral. The five poems: When I Went to the Circus, D. H. Lawrence; Circus, Gwendolyn MacEwen; Fifth Elegy, Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke; Puppets, P. K. Page, and; The Circus, Kenneth Koch; contemplate the inner world of self with the outer patina of reality, each poet finding their own way of reconciling to a presence found in the circus. That presence, as seen by Bachinski, is also poetic; a place where animals, beyond their calling, dance on striped balls, and people fly.

As for his use of pochoirs for this edition, Moore writes:

Other illustration modes were considered before Bachinski settled on pochoir. He felt it connected directly to his drawings, largely done in pastel. Pochoir, a hand method for coloring prints and illustrations through multiple stencils, is capable of very rich and elaborate effects. The stippling brush presses the pigment deep into the grain of the paper creating a thinness whereby the paper and paint are merged and unified. Pochoir was used for the spine label, the first letter of certain poems, as well as the illustrations.

About the Edition

  • 5 poems on the circus with pochoir and woodcut illustrations by Walter Bachinski
  • 6 full page pochoir illustrations, a title page and 5 two-colour woodcuts on the half-titles
  • Handset and printed with Century Schoolbook
  • Zerkall Litho paper 225 gsm
  • Afterword by Crispin Elsted
  • 50 pages, 18 x 13 inches
  • 60 copies

Pictures of the Edition:

Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Spine and Cover
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Illustration #1 with text
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Illustration #1 with text
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Illustration #2 with text
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Illustration #2 with text
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Illustration #3 with text
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Illustration #3 with text
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Illustration #4 with text
Circus, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Illustration #4 with text

Virgil’s Eclogues

Eclogues was Virgil’s first major work, written between 42 and 39 BC when Virgil was in his thirties.  Virgil’s book contains ten parts, each an eclogue. Whereas Georgics is agricultural focused, here each part has herdsmen conversing and singing, usually in rural areas, about the toils of life, love and other topics. He uses allegorical themes and the work is awash in the language of classical mythology. The work was immediately successful, and made Virgil a household name in the Roman world.

Mr. Bachinski’s illustrations are awash in color and lines, with narrative characterizations alive in the imagery. The two color linocuts are generously spread throughout the book, with the text hand-set and printed in Bulmer Roman, with Bodoni for display on Somerset Satin mould-made paper. In short, an extremely impressive effort for this rare and early Shanty Bay Press publication.

About the Edition

  • 23 two color linocuts by Walter Bachinski
  • Handset and printed in Bulmer Roman, with Bodoni for display
  • Somerset Satin mould-made paper
  • Translated by C.D. Lewis
  • 50 pages, 9 ½ by 13 inches
  • Quarter blue buckram with Araishu paper over boards, slipcased
  • Limited to 27 copies

Pictures of the Edition:

Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Cover and Misc
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Cover and Misc
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Title Page
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #1
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #1
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #2
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #2
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #3
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #3 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #4 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #4 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #5 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #5 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #6 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #6 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #7 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #7 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #8 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #8 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #9 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #9 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #10 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #10 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #11 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #11 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #12 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Sample Linocut #12 and Text
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Colophon
Eclogues, Shanty Bay Press, Colophon

Broadsides

Ode: Still Life with Vase of Flowers. Broadsheet 18 by 27 ½ inches. Hand set 18 point Deepdene with Garamond for display. 12 colour pochoir illustration (14 3/4 by 5 3/8 in.) by Walter Bachinski. Signed by Elsted and Bachinski. 50 copies published 2000.

Ode: Still Life with Vase of Flowers, Shanty Bay Press
Ode: Still Life with Vase of Flowers, Shanty Bay Press

The Red Lily. Broadsheet 19 by 25 3/4 inches. Hand set 18 point Deepdene. 2 colour woodcut illustration (10 x by 8 1/4 in.) by Walter Bachinski. 50 copies published 2003.

The Red Lily, Shanty Bay Press
The Red Lily, Shanty Bay Press

Upcoming Works

The Press has a couple projects in the works. The first consists of a large pochoir triptych of Mr. Bachinski’s take on the Birth of Venus. The sheet is about 15 by 22 inches. He is currently about half way through the pochoir. Accompanying will be a small book with 5 or 6 poems on the subject by various poets. They have not made the final selection of all the poems to be used, as there are quite a few to choose from, but there will definitely be an early poem by Arthur Rimbaud, one by Rainer Maria Rilke, and one by D.H. Lawrence. Each poem will have a complex pochoir initial. This is tracking to be available in early 2015. The second project will be Daphnis and Chloe by Longus. Mr. Bachinski is just starting to work out the illustrations. The drawings could easily take a year or more, so this will likely be released sometime in 2016.

As you have seen, the works of Shanty Bay Press are beautiful, and belong on the shelves of all those who admire livre d’artiste of this quality, especially those, like me, who think the classics are the perfect match for this sort of treatment. I applaud Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler for their devotion to fine press methods, the quality of their work, as well as to their attention to the classics. I look forward to many more years of great works from the Press!

For questions, comments or to discuss interest in any of Shanty Bay’s works, please contact them here.

3 thoughts on “A Look at Shanty Bay Press

  1. For a small country (population-wise, that is —– Canada has fewer people than the state of California !) Canada has a disproportionately large number of fine private press publishers. Some that immediately come to mind are the Aliquando Press, Bowler Press, Barbarian Press, Editions Roselin, Heavenly Monkey, Voilin Editions, and the Shanty Bay Press. The history of fine letterpress printing in Canada dates back to the 1930’s but the two presses best known to avid collectors of private press books are the Barbarian Press and Shanty Bay.

    This article is my first look in detail at Shanty Bay’s works (I do not own any of their publications) and their work immediately reminds me of and compares favorably to the magnificent livres d’artiste book designed and produced by Sidney Shiff from 1980 to 2000 after he assumed ownership of the Limited Editions Club and rescued it from corporate hell. The Shanty Bay books are not for the faint of wallet but are clearly intended for private press book collectors intent on assembling world-class libraries with representation from the most important publishers from the modern private press movement. The quality of their work is uncompromising yet distinctive and as Chris indicated, Walter Pachinski’s vivid artwork truly brings these wonderful Greek classics to life, working seamlessly with the text.

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