Before the full print run of any Tune & Fairweather project kicks off, there is a lengthy back-and-forth with our printer in Italy to nail down the exact materials and specifications. This process culminates in the creation of a single manually assembled prototype (or “dummy” in printer-speak).
Of course, Abyssal Archive is not just one book but a set with multiple components – two volumes and a fold-out companion map, each bound separately with unique cover art. The complexity of this process has been a fun but time-consuming challenge to overcome.
We wanted to share some photos and notes on the process up to this point so you have a glimpse into the book-creation process as well as a sense of the overall progress.
Interior text-page print tests:
We test-printed a selection of the internal pages on the final paper stock (Munken Pure 130gsm). The printer had concerns that some of the fine lines in our designer’s title-page Darksign motif, as well as in the custom dropcaps, might not register properly. Fortunately everything turned out looking crisp. The metallic-gold ink looks amazing in counterpoint to the black type and illustration linework.
If you want to learn more about the Swedish paper supplier we're collaborating with on Abyssal Archive, check out the mini-doc we made of our visit to their factory last year:
Cover print tests:
Though we knew we wanted to use premium Setalux cloth for the cover, we were torn between two shades – one lighter, one darker. Since the lines in the cover illustration are to be printed in white, we needed to check the contrast of the illustration against the covering cloth. This confirmed that we needed to opt for the darker cloth, as the white lines all but disappeared against the lighter cloth.
Vegan-leather spine test:
Our printer flagged that the red “Hellkite Drake” leather we planned to use on the spine came in sheets whose pattern made it impossible to create a uniform pattern on each volume. The individual reptile scales vary in size at intervals depending on where the sheet is cut.
We feel the natural variance here will enhance rather than detract from the overall effect, as nothing is perfectly uniform in nature and this will give each copy a unique fingerprint. These spines are going to be such an arresting change of pace on the bookshelf, especially once the gold-foil lettering has been blocked in.
Paper grammage test for companion map:
The printer prototyped three different fold-out companion maps for us – 130gsm, 150gsm, 170gsm. We wanted to go with a heavier paper weight to ensure that the paper didn’t tear along the crease lines with repeated use, however we knew that higher-grammage paper means bulkier folding (remember that old thought experiment about a piece of paper folded in half 10x reaches the moon, or somesuch?).
Luckily for us, the 150gsm test landed right in the Goldilocks zone, which is fortunate since stepping up to 170gsm would no longer be capable of being machine-folded and each copy would have to be hand-folded.
We’ve been informed that the final dummies should be finished soon and should be with us this month. We’ll follow up with a video of these the moment they land at the T&F office. Provided everything looks good, we can lock in the printing spec and book a slot on press for the final print run.
The original Q1 delivery estimate for Abyssal Archive is looking increasingly unlikely at this stage, however we’ll update the shipping estimate once we get an on-press date confirmed.
More updates to come as progress unfolds!