You've wandered through a doorway into a dimly lit room, away from the exhibition. On the other side of the room you spy another doorway through which you can discern the sky and the blue of the distant surf.

You begin to walk in that direction, but, suddenly, you realize that you've entered the artist's workshop, and feel an irresistible urge to look around at some of the strange objects beckoning to you.

On a small metal table, beside a plastic geranium, you see an old, vacuum tube, bakelite radio, and you feel a sudden desire to stroke one of its highly polished dials.

Laughing as you snap off the radio talk, you walk around the table, and find yourself in a large, open space at the center of the room. Here, bolted down to the wooden floor, an antique iron handpress stands, a nineteenth century Chandler & Price. You notice that a forme is locked up in the chace, and, what is more--how careless of the printer!--the rollers are inked up and a sheet of paper sits expectantly on the paper guards screwed into the platen paper. What else can you do? Stepping firmly on the treadle, you start the press and pull a proof.

Proof in hand, your attention next is attracted by a prepared litho stone, which rests easily and snugly against the side of the type chest. You crouch down to peer at the transfer picture and to read the penciled words beneath it.

At this moment you are unsure whether to walk out into the sunlight, contemplating what you've seen, or, perhaps, to return to the exhibition for another look. Momentarily, you finger the corrugated metal screw of a binder's press, in which someone has left a stack of boards. On the long, cluttered table beside the press, a celestial globe catches your eye, over whose deep jet surface, the glimmering constellations leap and stretch. A few calligraphic pens lie capped at its base, a half-engraved chunk of rare boxwood weighting a pile of bills and cancelled checks. With your eye on graceful Cassiopeia, you reach out and give the globe a rapid twirl.

Like the patterns on the globe, the exotically marbled papers hanging above the sink entice you over. They are very like the papers in the exhibition, only here you can press your nose against them and breathe the doughy fragrance of the damp paper fibers and the acrid metallic taint of the ink. Hanging on clothespins beside the papers are three sheets of what appear to be children's drawings, although they are marked as Maps of the Exhibition. Although each one is a little different, the three maps seem to comprise a series.

Beside the sink you find a big, worn couch with lots of pillows parked beside a door--of course, the water-closet. And, next to the couch, a small bookcase filled with books. Here are pages of The Artist's Miscellany and issues of Koobstra, the Newsletter of the Guild of BookWorkers, Marbling Bath, Printing History, and other reliable guides to the mythology, history and practice of the Book Arts. You decide to pull the freshest looking volume from the top, --a checklist to the Exhibit!--plop down onto a pillow and have a look!

You wake up with a start! How has such a remarkable journal managed to put you to sleep, you wonder. Rising to your feet, you glance over toward the open door. The sky has turned moodier, but, still, the afternoon sun bounds with the first exhuberance of morning. The surf still lures you. The sea-gulls move heavily in the sky, the sensual promise of the long, sweet day. But, before you reach the doorway, you feel a sudden, familiar, tug of resistance: wasn't there something else you had meant to see at The New Jersey Book Arts Exhibition?


MSJ/110996