Our Quarterly Editions aren’t necessarily tied thematically to the season in which they’re released, but every few years we feel compelled to head back into the woods for Autumn. “Mackinaw Autumn” (2009) and “Shenandoah” (2015) were beloved editions that made great use of the warm colors of fall foliage, but it felt like time to try a different twist.
At a glance, Field Notes’ Fall 2019 “Autumn Trilogy” edition seems perfectly simple, but the subtly debossed leaves and embossed logo are the result of a very complicated process. First, we selected three beautiful cover papers from Mohawk’s Via line: “Warm Red,” “Safety Yellow,” and “Scarlet,” all with a vellum finish. These roughly approximate the Fall leaf colors of the North American Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), the American Elm (Ulmus americana), and the Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea).
Using photographs for reference, we carefully traced the shape, contours and vein patterns of each leaf into a scaleable vector file, then created a “lock-up” of each cover layout with our logo and cover text. A sculptor at our diemaker converted the flat vector files into a three-dimensional computer model to evaluate the tolerances for embossing and debossing, and to simulate how the covers would look under various lighting conditions before the expensive and time-consuming process of physical diemaking began.
After reworking the files a bit, a master die was carved in precise detail into a brass plate on a CNC-machine, a ten-hour process for each design. Each master die was then painstakingly polished and inspected, and imperfections were cleaned up by hand.
When the masters were finished, “counters” were made by pressing the master into hot resin. The counter and master were then used to make the duplicates that were necessary to stamp the artwork on multiple locations on the press sheet.
While the dies were being made, we ordered some tests to determine the ink/varnish balance to best bring out the subtleties of the 3-D shapes. Too much of a tint would overwhelm the virtually “blind” emboss that we were after. Once we got on press, we found our tested balance was too strong, so our pressman suggested using the varnish without a tint. He was right, it was perfect. Pressmen know their stuff!
After a few tweaks to the dies (and biting our nails during the ensuing 10-hour waits) the varnish-printed cover stock was delivered to the embosser, the dies were carefully aligned to the varnished areas, and the sheets were stamped.
Meanwhile, ruled body pages were printed on Finch Fine 70#T “Soft White” in gray with double top rule matched to the cover colors. Finally the books were bound with gold staples.
The final result is wonderfully subtle at first glance, but a close look reveals a deeper complexity. That sounds like a pretty over-the-top way to describe pocket memo books, but we bet you’ll agree when they’re in your hands.
2488 NORTH LANDING ROAD UNIT 112