Publisher’s Diary - The Last Hundred

April’s new release is The Last Hundred by poet Aaron Kent and photographer William Arnold. It’s an exploration of the far West of Cornwall, using the old land boundary term of the ‘hundred’. Cornwall was split into nine Hundreds (Stratton, Trigg, Lesnewth, East, West, Powder, Pydar, Kerrier and Penwith) with Guillemot HQ sitting right on the border where four of them meet: Pydar, Trigg, Powder and West.

The Last Hundred is a collaboration that came to us fully formed, which is unusual for Guillemot. Most often we find our own artists if we want to ‘dress a text’ (to borrow Emily Juniper’s phrase), but this one (like our other poetry-photography collaboration, Carousel) came to us wonderfully complete.

For the production, we have gone for an unbound book of poems and photos that come in an envelope, mimicking the kinds of envelopes photos used to come in when you took them to Boots for developing. This meant designing a template from scratch – a process of trial and error, mocking up lots of miniature test envelopes until it was right. It had to be over-sized and we wanted both ends to have a ‘spine’ so that it would sit well on a book shelf.

Once the design was ready we had a die created – a series of blades that cut out the template (see photos below) – and added score lines where the envelope was to be folded. The first few test prints did not work. The paper split, leaving nasty white scuff lines along the folds. Mostly, this was our choice of papers. We were using a lovely textured paper with a coarse grain – an exceptional stock that prints both text and images brilliantly. We would need something finer for the page to fold properly. More tests, more die-cutting, deeper score marks, more folding.

And so here I am, sitting in my pyjamas at 6.30am folding envelopes and collating the poetry cards ready for release. The first one took 25 minutes to put together and I have a pile of about a hundred to get through. A hundred Hundreds.

After the morning’s folding I’m off to see a man about a letterpress for another special little project…