To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, at the beginning of 2016, the Bodleian invited printers around the world to submit hand-printed copies of each of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets. Printers took up the challenge with great enthusiasm and the Bodleian has now received sonnets from more than a dozen countries in languages ranging from Armenian and Polish to Scots and Welsh. Many of the printers who responded to the sonnet printing challenge enlisted the help of artists to decorate their sonnets, with subjects including human figures, Shakespeare himself, birds, flowers and an unusual 'scaly anteater' called a pangolin. Some sonnets are printed on special paper, including paper that the printers made themselves. Others made typographical designs using coloured inks, different typefaces, ornaments and novel arrangements of the type in a spiral pattern. Submissions came from a range of printers, including individuals printing at home to school pupils, non-profit organisations and university departments.
Salmon Jam Press rose to this challenge- especially as it would be my first foray into letterpress! It began by tidying, sorting and cleaning the Times New Roman size 12 letterpress tray in the Cherryburn Press Room, before I began.
My sonnet was 111, with a very strong theme of Pity and redemption. I soon discovered that most of the type being very old was worn, and wouldn't give a great impression itself on it's own. So I created a wood engraving of a Quill pen, and I blind embossed the word PITY in the centre of the sonnet. After printing I inked my hand and pressed this over the embossed 'pity' to illustrate the theme.
I am very happy to say that it has been accepted by the Bodleian and is now in their permanent collection.
If you would like to view the Sonnets, please click below