HAM ON RYE - Charles Bukowski
Printed in an edition of 52 copies, it is 364 pages in length. The typeface used for the text is 12pt Goudy Powell. The running heads are 13pt Headline Bold. The wood type used for the chapter numbers and title page are 15 line Condensed Gothic Bold. It was printed on custom handmade cotton paper from St. Armand. Two watermarks appear throughout the book. One with the initials ``CB’’ for the author, the other with ``HC’’ for the author’s alter-ego, Henry Chinaski. The illustrations, including the end sheets, were printed in-house from the carved wood blocks of Sean StarWars. Behind the illustrations, printed in black, are three tint blocks in Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. It is quarter-bound in foil-stamped pig leather (obviously), with handmade black paper from St. Armand. Housed in a black book box.
by Mark Sarigianis
The impetus for tackling Bukowski’s Ham on Rye had its origins in the first years of Sharp Teeth Press, founded by David Johnston. Before beginning production on the earliest publications, we discussed that printing Bukowski would be a good goal to have. David Johnston and myself were both huge fans of the author’s work, and saw value in turning it into a fine press publication. Ham on Rye is relatively modern classic, and as a result had never been looked at in a fine press perspective. Over the years, David and I had many other books to make, and much we had to learn before producing a 350-plus page novel within the constraints that we had set for ourselves: books cast in metal type and printed letterpress.
We began the lengthy rights acquisition process in 2014. When the project looked to be a reality, David began digitally keyboarding the novel. He finished within a week of his tragic and untimely passing on October 3rd of 2015. Since that time, I have been dedicated to producing any and all of the projects David and I had ever discussed in earnest. Ham on Rye production began in the winter of 2015. Due to the length and physical size of the book, it was cast and printed in two parts, with the first half melted down in order to cast the second. Printing was completed in the fall of 2017.
Sean StarWars is a woodcut artist living in Laurel, Mississippi with his wife and five children. He is also a proud member of the Outlaw Printmakers.
A note about the project from the artist: ``Nobody really gets a Charles Bukowski quote right, so I’m just gonna paraphrase him: `You’re only a writer when you’re writing’. I have taken that to heart as an artist, specifically as a printmaker. `You’re only an artist when you’re making art, not when you’re talking about it…’ With that in mind I have spent the last 25 years with my nose to the grindstone blasting out print after print after print. Being invited to illustrate Ham on Rye has been one of the most personally gratifying projects I have ever worked on. It has also been one of the most challenging. This project has forced me to do a number of things I don’t do well or easily, such as working small and working detailed. But there’s one other thing I learned from my years of devouring Bukowski and that’s to trust your gut, and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at doing that. I hope you see my woodcuts as Inspirations by Bukowski and not simply illustrations of his words.’’