Alphabets and Alphabet Books

I have always loved alphabets. I remember tracing the shapes of letters with my finger when I was learning to read (age four), amazed that little marks on paper were really sounds that made up words when put together. I remember being jealous (age seven) of Betty who lived next door and got to go to Hebrew School, because she was learning a whole different alphabet for different sounds and words.

It isn’t really surprising that I became interested in calligraphy and typography later in life, or that alphabet books comprise a significant portion of the output of Byopia Press.

A Beach Comber’s Molluscalphabet

centre spread (taken from InDesign file)

 Like joyride, this book was designed for a friend: in this case, someone who loves oceans and seashells. There is only one alphabet (I had managed to find one ‘x’ which was relevant, and doubted that I could find a second) which is repeated twice as a spiral and once as a more readable list. The illustrations were scanned from old encyclopedias and books on natural history, and the background was produced in Painter.

Like the first book, there were learning experiences. (I hate learning experiences.) I was just beginning to work in InDesign, and hand drew the path for the spiral text. I had attempted to produce the text path in Illustrator but was completely overwhelmed by the alien mathematical approach to drawing. I decided to live with the irregularities of the curving text.

The lovely spiral-patterned lace paper was another problem. It is slightly stretchy and I discovered that when the sleeves were made tightly enough to fit the closed book properly, they were also too tight to slide off and on easily. Fortunately, the front of the book is split in the middle and the two halves can be overlapped. This makes the book smaller and the sleeve can be removed and replaced without too much difficulty.

As I said earlier, I hate learning experiences.

There seem to be a lot of people in the world who are as fascinated with letters and alphabets as I am. This has enabled me to acquire some wonderful things that are letter related, such as a limited edition typographic Scrabble game originally designed as a student project by Andrew Clifford Capener

one of the best alphabet books ever made,

This clever moveable book was designed by Marion Bataille, and is still available. I would, however,  disagree with the publisher’s assessment that it is only suitable for ages two to four.


About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than twenty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004.
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