Leaving early at 8 am for an hour drive to the first day of class had never been as exciting as it was today for Yuki and I. We were invited by a dear friend and customer of Hiromi Paper, Professor Kitty Maryatt, to sit in one of her typography and book arts class. Professor Maryatt is a Scripps graduate and has been part of their faculty for over 20 years. Located in Claremont and bound within a community with four other undergraduate colleges as well as two graduate colleges, Scripps College “provides a superior liberal arts education for women”. (Lori Bettison-Varga, President) Welcomed by a row of fully bloomed orange trees and neatly structured buildings aged with history, we were stunned by the immense beauty of this campus and even more for their library!
A quick roll call and self introduction session revealed that the students were of neighboring colleges and came from states across the country. Professor Maryatt prefers her class size to be small and intimate, which reflect greatly on the hand bound and self-printed books the students collaborate on each semester. We later got the opportunity to see some of these books which have some editions still on sale. To One’s Taste is a delicious hand made book brought to life in 2008, letter-pressed on our very own Yatsuo paper. A color from the Yatsuo series is chosen to represent a certain spice with a tale and an imagery letter-pressed beautifully onto the paper. Boustrophedon, made in 1999, mimics the perfection of harmony with painting, calligraphy and poetry. Students handpicked a Chinese poem, recreated it in a printed image, and originated a poem of their own tying all of the elements together. A paper we carried at that time, the Calligraphy Watermark, is used in this book. The most similar paper we have in stock would be the Clover Watermark.
Their collection of books ranged tremendously in age, size, materials, and even history. Right before our eyes we experienced the evolution of books in less then 2 hours. It was our first time seeing the first books ever made in human history, which were symbols carved into stones more then 2,000 years ago. We then transitioned into books made from papyrus, palm leaves, parchment, or in particular, velum, ink hand-written and eventually woodblock as well as movable type prints. The different stages of book making was broken up into the pre-Gutenberg era or post-Gutenberg era, and we even got to interact with an actual leaf from the Gutenberg bible. It was a powerful experience to be exposed to such history that has had a great affect on civilization. We indulged our minds to all of these trifling questions such as figuring what materials they used or deciphering the method by studying each letter printed and comparing it to the other letters in the passage. The Librarian, Judy, was so kind as to invite us back again to visit the Library any time, which is an offer hard to pass!
The remaining time we had left in the class period was spent in the printing room as Professor Maryatt announced future projects and assigned work for the students. This was a trip wildly inspirational to continue pursuing the history of book making. The student gallery they have on campus was very fascinating and not to be missed! Also, Pacific Standard Times’ Clay’s Tectonic Shift is on exhibition at the Williamson Gallery.
Thank you Kitty Maryatt for inviting us in your classroom we had a wonderful time!