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Production Narrative

by J. Drucker

The metal font was proofed, and then the proofs were cut up and used to make words in an elaborate scrabble game that began by spelling out "figure" and "ground" and building from these kernels into phrases and statements. Once the text was worked out, then executing it in the letterpress font was a matter of printing and rearranging successive stages of the same form. Though this required a bit of justification adjustment, it wasn't difficult or challenging the way the original textual composition was.Printing the red text from polymer was easy, and probably the most difficult part of the actual production was printing the pied form since there was no way to really lock up the letters. They were just held in enough tension to print decently.

Critical Analysis

by J. Drucker

Design Features

typographic: The typographic manipulation is central to this work, since the very text evolves from the type's rearrangement.

graphical: The layout of the pages allows for the increasing point size of the red, Triplex, to register as a striking effect of increased scale.

development: The increasing size of the red, polymer Triplex type creates a dynamic effect as the interior text block becomes more and more dense with meaning.

Prove before Laying: Figuring the Word


Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


born: United States
active: United States
citizenship: United States

birth: 1952-05-30

Publication Information

edition type: editioned

publisher: Druckwerk

place: Yale Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut

production: 1997-00-00
publication: 1997-00-00

edition size: 90 copies: 40 copies on Rives handbound by the author, 50 copies on Mohawk Superfine spiral bound.


horizontal: 9.5 inches closed

vertical: 9.8 inches closed

depth: .4 inches closed

Production Information

production means:
letterpress (local)

binding: hand sewn (local) Hand bound for 40 copies.

binding: spiral (AAT) Spiral bound for 50 copies.

bookBlock: paper Rives for 40 copies, Mohawk Superfine for 50 copies.
endsheets: paper Rives for 40 copies, Mohawk Superfine for 50 copies.

ink (local)


format: codex (AAT)

cover: The cover of each of the two types of copies is different. The Rives handbound copies have a hard cover, with a wide piece of black fabric over the binding. The front and back covers depict a spattering of the foundry font swirling around in black, with a few of the red letters from the work's second line of text mixed in. The spiral bound Mohawk Superine copies have a plain board front and back cover. The front cover has a piece of Mohawk Superfine pasted on with the title printed on it.

color: yes


pagination: unpaginated 60 pages

numbered?: numbered

signed?: signed


Printed from a previously unproven foundry font and polymer plates (set in Triplex); 40 copies on Rives handbound by the author; 50 copies for friends of the author on Mohawk Superfine, spiral bound, and hors commerce; on the Vandercook at Yale Avenue, New Haven, in the summer of 1997. All signed by the author/printer.

Exhibition Information

exhibition history: Mainly within larger exhibitions of my books.