Short Notice


Harwich (UK)

Harwich (UK)

It is ferry time again: we are headed for the Cotswolds once more.


It is Whittington Summer Show on September 5th. If you’re anywhere near Cheltenham come and enjoy a lovely afternoon with the Whittington Press having their open day with three of the presses working and a wealth of nice books and prints on show. I’ll have a table there, too.




Whittington Day at Whittington Court

Burford - Cotswolds

Burford – Cotswolds


My Books 2000-2015 – Part 2: Typographic Books


Fernöstliches Schmausbuch

Fernöstliches Schmausbuch


I consider myself lucky in that I have a huge stock of metal type to work with. I started off with two cases of metal type way back in 1998. One was Victor Hammer’s Uncial, the other was a well filled case of 10 pt Optima. Over the past years the stock grew to around 100 founts. It really is a treat to have so much choice. However, when it comes to relocating this will make up for a heavy load.


The first typographic book I made was a cookbook. As you can imagine, it was unusual in many ways. I love cooking, I enjoy philosophy and I am fascinated by founts. This easily sums up to a cookbook with philosophical texts, designed using a variety of different founts.


All recipes in the book are of Asian style in that exotic spices like ginger, cinnamon or curry are used. And all recipes are accompanied by an aphorism or a philosophical tale taken from Asian wisdom, like the thoughts and writings of Confucius and many others (with one ancient Roman thinker having wormed himself in). All the philosophical texts are in some way or other to do with eating and drinking or with what people relish. The book comes with some 20 recipes, printed with some 30 different founts. I printed the book in 2002 and I used most of the metal and wood type I had on stock back then.

deckled edge paper in the colours of cinnamon and ginger

deckled edge paper in the colours of cinnamon and ginger

The recipes, of course, are those we used ourselves. It is quick as well as sumptuous meals, vegetarian dishes as well as some with fish or meat, and there is one dessert right at the end of the book. I used Zerkall deckled edge paper for the book in the colours of cinnamon and ginger refering to the ingredients used in the recipes.

Peacock cover

Peacock cover

There were three different covers, made from specially chosen fabric related to the recipes‘ ingredients. One cover fabric was striped in the colours of exotic spices, one was a brown-beige fabric with a pattern resembling the ornaments on blankets used on elephants, and one was a chocolate brown fabric with a very sophisticated design of peacocks, whose home is in Asia and India. The book sold out a couple of years ago.



My second typographical book is a response to the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003. I came across a speech of Honoré Gabriel Riquetti, comte de Mirabeau. He delivered this speech on August 22nd in 1789. It is on religious tolerance. Of course, back in those times, it would all be about the hostilities between Roman Catholics and Lutheran Protestants. But it can be read in a far wider sense. Basically, what Mirabeau says here holds true for all sorts of religious thoughts and the strains between them. The quintessence is that we all can co-exist. We can be braod-minded towards other peoples‘ religion and still sleep peacefully. There is no need for killing each other for religious reasons.


Taking into account that Mirabeau was an 18th century person I chose Baskerville for the text, as it is an 18th century design. I used paste paper as endpapers. The pattern is an 18th century style made by Susanne Krause in Hamburg, who specialised in making paste paper for restauration purposes. The cover is made from an African batik fabric. The design has been printed by hand on a delicate damasc fabric. The book comes in an edition of 16 copies, one of which is still for sale.


Mirabeau had been involved in the process of discussing and designing the Declaration of Human Rights. That was the particular context in which he delivered his speech on religious tolerance.


In 2005 I chose a number of articles from that declaration and made an exclusively typographic book. There was only one fount I could think of using for this book: Futura, as austere as beautiful. I wanted this book to be special in a number of aspects. I wanted its character to mirror the long-term validity of the articles in the declaration. I wanted the book to have something sovereign to it; it was to express duration and hope. First of all I chose a strong paper of green colour, since green is the shade of hope. I printed on it the grain of an old weathered wooden board, rubbing it off by hand. In this grain every single year the tree has been living has materialised, thus it is like time becoming observable. I printed the text from Futura to stand strong for itself. I gave the book a cover from kingly red silk, expressing its sovereignity. And I made the book a concertina folding whose pages can be turned and turned endlessly. While turning the pages the book will be set in motion like if it had a life in itself. Additionally, the book can be stood on a plinth. The book’s title is „Menschen Würde Rechte“ (Men Dignity Rights), it is an edition of five. The work was accepted at the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt for their second Biennial of the Artist’s Book in 2006. One copy is part of their collection.


In 2009 I became aware of the activities of the al-Mutanabbi Street coalition when I met Sarah Bodman at the book fair in Hamburg. Almost instantly I joined in with their broadside project. In 2011 there was a call for artists to join the „An Inventory Of Al-Mutanabbi Street“ project. I developed the idea of the magazine-like works by the title „Manarah“. I had been doing research around this theme for some time, following the Swiss voting against minarets being built within their country. Manarah is an old Arabic term describing a place that sheds light, literally and in a wider sense. In ancient times this would have been something like a signpost or a lighthouse or whatever device to guide people on their journeys. However, over the centuries this term would develop into what we now know as minaret, the typical tower of a mosque.

Manarah - Issues 1 to 3

Manarah – Issues 1 to 3

My work „Manarah“ resembles a magazine. I decided to have three issues. Each issue is a collection of poetry on a special theme: war, time and love. Alltogether they span a period of some 400 years of human thinking about these themes. As this work is partly in German and partly in English it will be described in the upcoming post dealing with all my works related in whatever way to the English language. There is a special blogpost in the category „Artist’s Books“ dating from December 2012 describing „Manarah“.


Poetical Rose Book

Poetical Rose Book

My Poetical Rose Books are utterly different in almost every respect, and they were deliberately designed to be that way. The most normal about them probably is their binding. Depending on their size they come with either seven or nine poems. All poems are dealing with roses in one way or another. And all poems are written by well known German poets like Heine, Hoelderlin, Theodor Storm and colleagues. The total number of pages in each book varies according to size and making between around 90 and 152. Understandably these books come with a good number of blank pages each.

Poetical Rose Book

Poetical Rose Book

Poetical Rose Book

Poetical Rose Book

Each book is meant to be completed by its owner. There are many ways this can be done. Gardeners fond of roses could use the book as their garden diary. It could be used as guestbook on a special occasion like a wedding anniversary. People writing poetry themselves could fill the pages between the printed poems with their own poetry. These books are a series of 20 one-offs. Every book’s cover is made from a special fabric with a design related to roses. Every book is unique.



My artist’s book about Kurt Tucholsky is a very special work without doubt. It is purely typographic apart from there having been used some old clishees. There is a special blogpost dating back to July 2014 when there was an article on the book in Matrix 32, plus another one dating back to December 2012 in the category „Artist’s Books“ describing the work.

Mir fehlt ein Wort (I lack the word)

Mir fehlt ein Wort (I lack the word)

I fell for Tucholsky’s writings way back in the 1980s when still a student. He was a writer and essayist in Weimar Republic. His mastering the German language is outstanding. He saw a second World War coming. He opposed Hitler’s party as much he could. His writings are as relevant and disturbing today as they were back in the 1920s and 1930s. He pointed out that socialists and communists faced much more severe sentencing at court than conservatives and fascists. He described how economic networks, particularly concerning the fire arms industry, had their own notion about wars paying off for them. He pointed out that as these industries made their profit by selling weapons, they quite naturally had a dislike for peace. He got stripped off his citizenship by the Nazis in 1933 and took his own live two years later in his Swedish exile.


The very special feature of the book is that it is entirely made of spoiled sheets. The idea being that a young printer had collected those spoils from the waste bin at his Berlin printing office and taken them home to make a good read. He’d collected the texts he liked most in three portfolios. After him fleeing Germany for America in 1933 these portfolios end up on the desks of the Nazi party and thus were turned into files used for prosecuting and expatriating Kurt Tucholsky.


Meine Worte fallen wie Steine (My Words Fall Like Stones)

Meine Worte fallen wie Steine (My Words Fall Like Stones)

My so far newest book is entirely typographic. Also, it is of a very experimental sort of typography. Contrary to that typography originally is supposed to aid and support reading and understanding the text, here typography impedes reading, it disrupts and interferes with understanding.


This specific typography wants to make aware of our preoccupations. It wants to make us learn that we so often do not read what is written or printed but instead what meets our expectations. We are unaware of us being convinced we know the text without reading it. We reckon we can guess, and we rely on our guess being correct. The book comprises of 14 postcard-like prints. Each of them comes with one sentence. Next to the sentence a name and a year are given. All sentences have been spoken to me in real at one point in my life, in some sort of context. The context, of course, is not revealed. Readers are free to make up their own ideas of what sort of context this might have been or could be. The books are sewn in a modified way of Japanese binding. The cards are printed on a rather aged quality of brown cardboard. Covers are made from strong cardboard material in different colours. The book’s title is „Meine Worte fallen wie Steine“ (My words fall like stones). It is a series of 12 one-offs. These books are not numbered nor are they signed.




There is a blogpost dating from December 2012 by the title „My Type“ which in a way is about my stock of metal type.

My Books 2000-2015 – Part 1: Books with Pictures


Since I have started making books, I have made small books and large ones, illustrated books and typographic ones. There has been the classic handsewn hardcover as well as experimental bindings and concertinas. It is a total of 18 books I published between 2001 and 2015. Generally, all my books are limited editions, copies are signed and numbered and usally blind embossed. The choice to make this book rather than another for me is a very personal one. Basically, I choose subjects for two main reasons: because they appeal to me as such and for the wider context in which they stand.

There will be three posts about the books I have made so far. This first part will be about my books coming with illustrations. In a later post I shall describe the typographic books, and in a separate post the books that have a relation to Britain and the English language.


Little Niak - special edition

Little Niak – special edition

My very first book tells the the story of „Little Niak“. The book itself was published in 2001. However, the story is much older. I wrote it way back in 1986, when my goddaughter still was a little girl. The story was written to be read to her at bedtime.

Little Niak - title page

Little Niak – title page

I had just got back from a trip to Sweden in summer 1986. We had been hiking in pretty remote places in Lapland. It was all far off any beaten tracks. In fact, it was far off any sort of track. We had been staying kind of in the middle of nowhere for some weeks. The scenery was stunning, to say the least. There was no kind of shelter apart from the tents we were carrying. It was a very special experience. When I got back there was this story in my head about a chap hiking in remote Lapland, exploring a cave while taking shelter from severe weather. In there he meets Niak and learns that this wee little guy is in charge of our weather. In fact, little Niak is the chef cooking our weather in his very special weather kitchen. So, after having delivered a heavy hail storm to the outside, the two guys sit by the fire, have a cup of tea and chat along about the recipes for snow and hail and the process of preparing the different sorts of weather for the different corners of this earth.

Little Niak - endpapers made from individually made decorated paper

Little Niak – endpapers made from individually made decorated paper

The book is a small size landscape format. I made 4 woodcuts showing the landscape of Swedish Lapland. The woodcuts run all along the bottom edge of all pages in the book and they run straight through the fold. The text is hand set from a fount of Baskerville we had cast ourselves on the Monotype machines at a colleague’s. It was an edition of ten copies and has sold out a couple of years ago. The covers of the special edition have been made from African hand batik fabric.


Der Frosch und seine Frau

Der Frosch un syne Fru

I have a pretty large number of books with fairy tales on my shelves. Many come from my aunt’s, who had been collecting books with fairy tales from all over the world almost all her life and left the books to me. I myself have grown up with the classics not only by the brothers Grimm but also by Anderson, Bechstein, Perrault and others. Then somebody suggested I might make a book about frogs. Instantly I had the idea of re-writing one of the Grimms‘ tales. One of their very classics is the tale of the fisherman and his wife. She is described as a voracious character, never satisfied. The book that grew from this idea is „The Frog and His Spouse“. It tells the story of an old frog who goes looking for a wife one last time and gets it all wrong. Being old and short sighted he chooses a warty toad who turns out to be insatiable.
The book is a small portrait format from outside, but landscape format inside and comes with two woodcuts. One is inside the book the other one is the cover itself, with the woodcut being printed on a bright green cover cloth. The text is hand set from Akzidenz Grotesk, Memphis is used for the headlines. I chose a paper with a nice decent waterline structure, somewhat resembling the small ripples on the surface of a lake touched by the wind. The book is an edition of 16 and was published in 2003. It is one of the last two books I made in the old place at Ebersbach, where I had started as a book artist originally. I moved out there only a few months after the book was finished.


Das Nusszweiglein

Das Nusszweiglein

Das Nusszweiglein - endpaper and folded sheets

Das Nusszweiglein – endpaper and folded sheets

Ludwig Bechstein was a 19th century writer and librarian born in Weimar. He is known for collecting fairy tales and legends, his own writings are virtually forgotten. Like the brothers Grimm’s books his works have become classical compilations of long told tales and are part of many family libraries. In 2007 I decided to turn one of Bechstein’s tales into an artist’s book. I chose „Das Nusszweiglein“ (The Little Twig from the Nut Tree). The tale tells of a bargain, a curse and a transformation, and it is about confidence and trustfulness – and love.

Walnut leaves embedded in silk paper

Walnut leaves embedded in silk paper

The book is printed on a green-grey deckled edge paper with wavey waterlines. I made five illustrations. They are lino etchings. One of them is a portrait of Ludwig Bechstein going with his biography. Each book comes with two walnut leaves embedded in silk paper. All text is hand set from a variety of metal type all of the same size of 20 pt. All founts are named in the back in the order of their appearance in the book. Founts used change from page to page. The standard edition is bound in a fabric with bear motif, in the special edition an African batik fabric was used for the cover. All books come in a wooden box. The book is an edition of 12, commemorating the 12 years our wonderful dog had been staying with us. She had passed away in 2006 aged almost 14.



Die Schöne Lau - 16 unique blue covers

Die Schöne Lau – 16 unique blue covers

In 2009 my studio was 10 years old. The jubilee book was to be a special version of a very old tale. The story itself is very well known in Swabia, the region my studio was located.  It is part of a book written by Eduard Moerike, a 19th century poet and clergyman. The tale of „Beautiful Lau“ is about a water nymph being expelled by her husband for only having still born children. She has to overcome a curse by laughing five times, one time she is not allowed to become aware of it. A vital part in the tale plays a small piece of lead coming from a wizard and being full of witchcraft. There is a tongue twister about it that makes beautiful Lau laugh. The Swabian term for it is „Kloetzle Blei“ (little nugget of lead), which basically is the name I gave my studio. As for my studio it refers to the metal type I use for printing, each character being a little nugget of lead, that can work wonders when used in the right way.

Die Schöne Lau - poster broadside

Die Schöne Lau – poster broadside

I transformed the tale of beautiful Lau into a broadside ballad. The book itself is a concertina folding. The tale adds up to a total of 19 stanzas. It is written to be sung with a very well known tune of an old ballad. During the jubilee event a ballad monger came with her hurdy gurdy and we performed the song in the classic way with me standing on a bench and pointing out with a stick the scenes on the poster broadside that is part of the work. The broadside is a linocut coloured by hand with water colours. The text in the book is printed on strong blue paper and the concertina is made in a way that it kind of pours out of the cover like a well flowing over. The book is an edition of 16.  All books have covers made from blue fabric, but every cover is unique. The special edition comes with a portfolio containing the poster broadside, a bamboo pointing stick, the poster announcing the jubilee plus one nugget of metal type with the number of the copy tied to the portfolio.  It is up to the owner to find out about the magic powers it might carry.

Die Schöne Lau - portfolio (part of the special edition)

Die Schöne Lau – portfolio (part of the special edition)


There was a scandal in 2009. It might not have grown into a scandal had it not happend during the silly season. Somebody had bought a pack of rocket and while unpacking it he had found some herb of the wrong sort. He could have chosen to just sort it out and throw it away.  But he did not so. He sent it to a laboratory and it was identified as being a poisonous plant, and that was, where the scandal took of.  It resulted in a number of very specialised gardeners‘ businesses almost going broke as people virtually stopped buying rocket.  The herb found has an appaling taste. Normally you would just not eat it.



The book inspired by this incident was „Rocket – who has found this?“ and it was published in 2010. It describes 21 plants in text and images that could be mistaken for rocket – well, more or less. The illustrations are linocuts showing the outlines of the leaves. On the bottom of the page describing the respective plants there is a scale showing whether the plant can be eaten or is considered poisenous. There is a sachet pasted to the inside back cover containing dried rocket leaves. The book is sewn through the back with black thread.

Rucola - title page

Rucola – title page

The book is all about taking responsibility for oneself, for ones own health and life and for the risks one decides to take. It comes with a quote of Immanuel Kant’s quintessential proposition based on the old Latin advice „sapere aude!“. There is a standard edition of 15 copies (Arabic numbers), and a special edition of ten copies (Roman numbers), the latter coming with a poster with all 21 linocuts.  Being a trained botanist I thoroughly enjoyed making this book. It is dedicated to our late friend and talented Blues musician Harald Goldhahn who died far too young just before Christmas in 2009, the very time when this book was in the making.




So far I have made two more illustrated books. One is „Cumbria“ (Image on top of this post) and the other one „Woods in Winter“ (image below). Both books are completely in English and will be part of an extra blogpost covering those of my works that have a British background. So stay tuned, there is more to come.