A Field Guide to Irregular Birds
By Jody Arthur and Katy Dwyer
Oakland, California: Eucalyptus Press, 2009. Second edition of 20.
6.25 x 8.75; 28 unnumbered pages. Type handset in Bembo and letterpress printed on Rives heavyweight cream paper. Illustrations are collages using clip art of old etchings of birds, hand-colored by pochoir. Case binding with marble paper cover.
A collection of absurd imaginary birds in the style of a Victorian field guide.
Jody Arthur: "This book grew out of a fascination with the way that European explorers and naturalists described and catalogued the natural world. When I started working on this book, I was reading the journals of ornithologist John James Audubon and studying nineteenth century bird and animal prints. I began making collages using clip art of old etchings of birds. I felt like a mad scientist, creating bizarre creatures by pasting ears or fins on illustration so sparrows and sandpipers.
"I decided to collect these birds in a faux Victorian field guide. I contacted a friend of mine, Katy Dwyer, who is a vet tech and can tell great stories about animals. Together we made up English and Latin names for the birds, as well as a brief description to go in the guidebook. We strove to mimic the formal yet catty tone that tone might find in an old informational book. The introduction, with its delusions of grandeur, set the scene for the absurd birds to follow. We imagined a pair of disgruntled naturalists, whose discoveries were never celebrated in the manner of Audubon. Were these naturalists (and their unusual discoveries) forgotten because of the politics of the bird watching world, or because they were women in a male profession? Or are they simply liars who created these animals without ever leaving their sitting rooms?
"The structure of the book is meant to emulate the style of a book made in a Victorian job shop, with the type and ornaments available at the time. It took me a while to find the printing process that best evoked Nineteenth century illustrations. I finally ended up using polymer plates and pochoir to capture the look. The finishing touches on the illusion were a simple, formal binding, a marble paper cover, and a gold-stamped title on the spine."
The Pardiso Whisperer (Ocreatus
bracypes) lues its mate near with flashy
tail displays, stimulated by juicy gossip it
senses with its superior hearing.
$ 250 (Last two copies)