Rebecca Chamlee, “Where Stucco Meets Chaparral”

Book closed showing parchment spine and sewing

Page detail

Layered kozo spread

Specimen spread with herbarium data



Rebecca Chamlee (Simi Valley, CA)

Where Stucco Meets Chaparral
letterpress, handbound book
Edition of 70
104 pages
9.125 x 17 x .75 open
9.125 x 6.25 x .75 closed

Like the self-taught naturalists of the Victorian era, my recent work examines the intersection of my artistic and scientific interests by collecting and cataloging the natural world. I am inspired to record, interpret and celebrate nature.

Where Stucco meets Chaparral explores the trails though the sandstone formations, chaparral and oak woodlands that surround my home in an arid inland valley in Southern California. It is a printed herbarium of local California native plants with stories of local and natural history and personal observation gathered during many years of daily walks. Detailed images of seven indigenous plants are letterpress printed in multiple colors in tight registration through their seasonal life cycles that contrast hand-carved representations of the environmental context where they prevail.

The book is entirely letterpress printed using handset California Old Style and Kennerly and wood types, hand carved Gomuban relief plates and photopolymer plates. Each signature consists of a folio of lightweight colored abaca wrapped around a Somerset text wove folio with a quarto-folded sheet of kozo forming the center spread. The handmade abaca has a distinctive rattle similar to the sound of walking on dry fallen leaves in colors that recall the landscape. The cotton sheet provides a contrast in texture and the excellent printing capability required for the detailed images of the specimens. On the quarto-folded center folio, mountain background images are printed verso and the foreground recto on translucent kozo to attain dimension and depth in the landscape images.

The binding is long-stitch sewn with waxed hand-dyed linen thread through a cover of heavy, rough Twinrocker abaca. The heavy abaca emulates the hard, uneven surface and color of the local sandstone. The spine is reinforced with a folded piece of green goat vellum. A bone button and braid of linen thread form the closure.