Don’t think of the video below in terms of firearms. I don’t care if you are for them or against them. That isn’t what this is about. The film below is a collaboration between Kessler Crane and The Delivery Men about the art and craft of hand engraving. Their goal was to capture the story and art form of engraver, Gerry Beathard, and they have done it. Through out the short film Beathard narrates how he became involved, why he does it, and where the satisfaction comes from. I think his words, are applicable to any profession. It’s all in the details.
With Thanksgiving just two days away, I thought I’d post a little something about Turkey’s since they are the food of choice on Thanksgiving day.
Today most of us go to the supermarket, and grab a Turkey from the meat counter without giving much thought to the bird we are about to consume. The reality is in the last 70 years the poultry industry has changed dramatically. At the end of the 1940’s Turkey breeding intensified in the United States with a focus on birds that produced more white meat. This was done to meet growing demand and produce turkey’s that had a consistent flavor and yield. As a result, the predominant breed sold in markets today is the Broad Breasted White whose light to dark ratio is 65% white meat to 45% dark. Broad Breasted White’s can grow to outrageous sizes topping out at almost 50 pounds. By contrast, heritage, and wild turkey’s max out at about 25 to 30.
Over the last decade there has been a renewed fascination with artisanal breeds, and farmers are now producing more expensive heritage breed turkeys like the Narragansett, Bourbon Red, and Royal Palm. If you want a heritage turkey for dinner this Thanksgiving you can find one in your state by searching here.
Along with all that turkey eating info, I thought I’d also post a number of Turkey themed Thanksgiving postcards. All of these images are 72ppi and medium-sized for loads of Thanksgiving posting. They have been culled from public domain websites and for the most part cropped. As I was gathering these up, a couple of things occurred to me. First off around 1900 to 1910 There was a huge fascination with turkey’s and children. Kids riding on them, trying to capture them, being pulled in wagons by them. There was also a very patriotic theme that ran with the turkey and Thanksgiving. I know it is an American holiday, but there are tons of images of turkeys with Uncle Sam and American flags. Maybe that has something to do with Ben Franklin nominating it as our national bird.
So behold, 25 Turkey/Thanksgiving images from roughly 110 years ago. All of them boldly illustrated, engraved, and filled with turkeytude.
When I started my career in graphic design, it was before the digital revolution. One of my first jobs in the business was learning how to do color separation by hand for Sunday circulars that ran in regional newspapers. Color separation was done with an exacto knife, rubylith, stat cameras, and sheets of film with “Ben Day” dot values burned into them. The process was tedious but it paid really well so I learned that part of the craft. When I see illustrations like the ones below, it makes me think about how much work went into producing these. The book illustrations date to the 1930’s when getting the gauche paintings from artists boards to printed pages was even more taxing.
This series of beautiful illustrations by Benjamin Rabier, represent the characters from Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian’s poems in Fables de Florian volumes 1 and 2. They illustrations are bright and colorful executed with a mastery of draftsmanship that is hard to find these days. I love how Rabier tells a story with the images even if you don’t speak the language. The layouts are wonderful, almost like a precursor to modern graphic novels. It’s just great stuff.
On closer inspection it looks as though the images were reproduced with engraving which is not an easy task, or inexpensive. This would have been a pricey children’s book back in the 1930’s, but the engraving process did such a great job of transferring the original art to the printed page. This is truly a lost art form.
Its Thanksgiving so I thought I’d post a few turkey related images. At some point in the late nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, there was a fascination with images of children riding on turkey’s or being pulled in a cart by them. I’m not sure what this was about, but the illustrations on these engravings are really nice.
I work for a company that makes most of it’s money from producing ink on paper products. One of the things that I have learned over the years of working where I do, is that printing is a much more complex job than most people think. And engraving, is one of the most complex types of printing you can do. Quality engraving is an art form. It really is.
“The Beauty of Engraving” is a website from Neenah Paper that is dedicated to this storied printing process. The site focuses on the CRANE paper line, which has been in production since 1873. The site is worth checking out for the examples of work that have been submitted. There are some really stunning high quality pieces here.
The video below is a short film that highlights the engraving process, and once again I am astounded by the quality of the video production here. With all the advances in cameras, DSLR’s, video editing, and post production software things just keep getting better. This kind of promotional film would have cost an arm and a leg to produce just a few years ago. It would have required a large crew, and the look probably wouldn’t have been this good.
Oh and watch this all the way to the end. The end titles reveal some nice info about the press, and printing company.