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Capturing Joan of Arc

HP Indigo 5500, Designjet Z3200 help create limited-edition tome on historical figure.




When artist Dorothy Simpson Krause set out to create a book incorporating images taken from the Boston Public Library’s extensive collection of Joan of Arc memorabilia, she was anything but a history buff. But what she discovered along the way inspired HERetic: Joan of Arc, a limited-edition tome with a decidedly feminist tone—the emphasis on “her” in the title paying tribute to a woman who was burned at the stake for wearing men’s clothing, among other things.

Designed to look like a prayer book the martyred saint might have carried into battle, Krause’s creation incorporates the poetry of French writer Christine de Pizan, with photographs from the museum’s collection. The pages covering her trial for heresy feature Joan’s own words, taken from the trial document.

Using PhotoShop, Krause resized, color corrected, and sight shifted the colors so the images would have a similar look and feel throughout the book, despite great variations in scale—from two inches to two feet—of the original memorabilia.

Her initial design concept was to print the book on vellum, but, because the material is difficult to work with and susceptible to moisture, she instead opted to scan the vellum, and use the scanned image as a background for the pages. Krause executed the page layout and text placement using Adobe InDesign.

Acme Bookbinders in Charlestown, Massachusetts, used its HP Indigo 5500 Digital Press to print the book, onto Mohawk Superfine Ultrawhite 100# text stock.
A final touch was a special phase box, used by libraries to wrap rare books. This was pigment printed on archival barrier board using a 44-inch, 12-color HP Designjet Z3200. For authenticity, Krause designed the piece to resemble a well-worn library enclosure, complete with semi-appropriate labels and rubber stamp marks, which she made using a Universal Label Systems engraver. She also created labels that were printed on sticky-back paper using the same HP machine, then laser cut the sheets in the shape of circles and rectangles and affixed them directly to the phase box spine.

Eventually, Krause gave in to pressure from collectors and created an edition of five books bound in real calf vellum. The deluxe edition features considerably more handwork—from tags printed on shiny white paper and tipped in for dimensionality, to gold leaf and pigmenting—and comes with a notably higher price tag ($750 with vellum; $350 without).





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