UB By the Numbers
Want to know more about the hand-bound copies of Plorkology: Stories, Poems, and Essays that M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts students and alumni and other volunteers produced for Plork Press? Browse through our colorful gallery to get a sense of the hard work, patience and dedication that went into creating 150 copies of a publication by hand. (Oh, and just what is Plork? As described on the M.F.A. website, it’s “Work + Play = Plork. It’s what happens when writers feel free to experiment and to play. Possibilities open up. That’s when you get someplace new. … This spirit of play will carry into your classes when you make books, work on a Wiki with your fellow classmates, perform your work and more.”)
mix-and-match cloth colors for the book covers
To embrace the M.F.A. program’s “plork-y” nature and add a sense of fun to Plorkology, the publishers chose to work with a variety of mix-and-match cloth colors for the book covers. The cloth, made specially for bookbinding, is an environmentally conscious, paper-backed, rayon cloth called Iris. photography: Avelino Maestas
waxed linen thread used to bind the books
The sense of play and color captured in the covers extends to the five colors of waxed linen thread used to bind the books. Waxed linen thread is a traditional bookbinding choice for its strength and longevity. unless otherwise indicated, all photography: Meredith Purvis, M.F.A. ’10
A simple feather icon adorns the cover of Plorkology.
A simple feather icon—an homage to the M.F.A. program’s mascot, the Plork bird—adorns the cover of Plorkology. The publishers created the image using hot stamping, a method that employs heat to stamp an image in gold foil. The process requires a good deal of setup and testing to ensure a high-quality stamp.
Copies of Plorkology are pressed and ready to be sewn by volunteers.
Copies of Plorkology are pressed and ready to be sewn by volunteers, who will use common tools of the trade such as curved needles, waxed linen thread, awls and Teflon folders to bind the books.
A Plorkology volunteer nears completion on one copy of the book.
A Plorkology volunteer nears completion on one copy of the book; all that remains is to sew the final signature and add the back cover. The paper is Mohawk Superfine, certified for its sustainability by the Forest Stewardship Council.
A volunteer prepares to stamp and sign a copy of the book that she has just completed.
M.F.A. student Sylvia Fischbach-Braden prepares to stamp and sign a copy of the book that she has just completed. This finishing touch allowed volunteers to receive credit for their work; each copy is signed and dated by the person who sewed it.
binding copies of the book
Plorkology volunteer Maria Mendoza (left) and M.F.A. student Mandy May work on binding copies of the book. Volunteers often commented that the sense of camaraderie they felt while working in the studio was their favorite part of publishing the anthology.
A volunteer sews the back cover onto a copy of the book.
Plorkology volunteer Avelino Maestas sews the back cover onto a copy of Plorkology. The book was produced in an assembly line fashion: Volunteers worked first on making each cover, then on collating and folding each signature or section of the book. The final step was to sew the copies—all 150—by hand.
adding the finishing touches
Judith Krummeck, M.F.A. ’14, puts the finishing touches on a copy of the book.
A volunteer carefully adds another signature to the book that she is binding.
A volunteer carefully adds another signature to the book that she is binding. The coptic stitch binding used for Plorkology dates back to the second century A.D. The book’s exposed spine allows the reader to view and enjoy the details of the stitching used to hold the book together.
Finished copies of Plorkology wait for the signatures of their binders.
Finished copies of Plorkology wait for the signatures of their binders before being stowed away for safekeeping. The final page of the book also features the colophon, a paragraph that details how the book was made.
Finished copies of Plorkology are stacked and waiting to be taken to their new homes.
Finished copies of Plorkology are stacked and waiting to be taken to their new homes. Though the books all contain the same content, the work of each bookbinder and mix of color combinations makes each copy unique. photography: Avelino Maestas