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[BKARTS] You Don't Know Jack

Saturday was one of those great days when all the activities were planned by
others and I was just along for the ride.  The day started with a workshop
taught by Tadashi Mitsui.  He did a terrific job organizing the material,
presenting the instruction, and keeping a watchful eye on the progress of
each participant.  Everyone around me felt the same thrill of discovery,
respect for his artisanship, and appreciation for his willingness to share
his expertise.  We took away a Japanese folding calendar (also known as a
magic wallet) made of fabric-wrapped boards and a variety of Japanese

When I got home our guests for the evening had arrived and the exotic smells
from Steve's Indonesian cooking were slipping from the kitchen promising
delicious tastes ahead.  The buzz in the living room concerned a parcel
sitting near the entrance.  Visitors to our house know that boxes addressed
to Editions usually contain a wonderful surprise.  This package proved to be
no exception.

Inside we found Jack! (in a box), the newest creation from Tara Bryan and
the walking bird press (www.tarabryan.com).  When we took away the wrappings
and placed the book on the coffee table.  We were looking at a multi-colored
cube made of cloth-covered boards roughly 3 1/2" on all sides.  For our
copy, the walls are bright yellow, the base, back panel, and lid are stop
sign red, and there is a deep purple embossed panel on the top.  A sturdy
strap snaps snugly on a silver knob on the front.

Releasing the strap set in motion a series of events: the cover flew back
and lay flat on the table, a stack of pages rose up from inside the box, the
first page fell backwards and landed neatly on the cover and unleashed a
cascade of pages that spilled slinky-like over the edge and began piling up
to almost the height of the box.  It was a magical moment.

The text block is a seamless sheet of Canal paper 3" wide by 25 FEET long
that is concertina folded into 101 square pages. The text, an encyclopedia
of Jack-related sea chanteys, nursery rhymes, doggerel, and ballads, is
letterpress printed.  Interspersed throughout the book are Bryan's linocuts
and wood engravings.  In the spirit of the Nuremberg Chronicles, some are
repeated.  One has to wonder where you find a sheet of paper that long and
how you feed it through a press.

Believe me, in just two days this book has endured a lot of investigation
and showing off.  Each time the strap is released and the waterfall of pages
starts there is a new respect for the well-crafted construction, a new
discovery of another Jack-tidbit (Little Jack Jingle/ Played truant at
school/ They made his bum tingle/ For being a fool...), and a new awe for
the creative genius that first imagined the concept, researched the text,
produced the illustrations, and then resolved the many complications that
must have challenged this project.

If you would like more information you can contact Tara Bryan at

Imagine, book that literally spills its guts for us!  You don't see that
very often.

Ed Hutchins

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