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Updated: 2 hours 18 min ago

We’ve Moved!

11 April 2018 - 9:22am

Dear Readers,


We are still updating the blog on a regular basis, but at a new address! Visit us @


See you there!

The post We’ve Moved! appeared first on An Acquired Taste - Swem Library Special Collections Blog.

Handmade books and the Old Stile Press

14 March 2018 - 10:00am

Most of us have probably read – or at least heard of – the “Book of Revelation,” but how many have really experienced it? Working with the Old Stile Press, Natalie d’Arbeloff has created a version of the “Book of Revelation” like none other, a version that blends words and images with artisan printing to convey not only a story, but also the dark and chaotic undertone of an apocalypse.

Woman clothed in the sun

“Woman clothed in the sun,” The Revelation of St. John the Divine (Special Collections Research Center Rare Book – Vinyard (N6797.D37 A76 1999 folio)

The Revelation of St. John the Divine is a recent addition to our Vinyard Collection of artists’ books. It has more than fifteen double-page spreads printed from linocuts by d’Arbeloff, all housed like a triptych in a nod to the contents’ sacred origins.



Created in the valley of the Wye River in Wales, Revelation was constructed by Frances and Nicolas McDowall, a husband-and-wife team who spend their days pushing the traditions of private presses. They seek artists and printmakers to feature in handmade books at their Old Stile Press, and work closely with those artists to create the final product. Each project is different; a book’s binding and printing is often reflective of its contents, which range from traditional stories to the printer’s own poetry.

Some books, such as The Third Thing (also found in the Vinyard Collection), use previously published selections of text reimagined with new designs.

River mates, The Third Thing

“River Mates,” The Third Thing  (Special Collections Research Center Rare Book – Vinyard (Z232.O43 T45 2013 folio)

"Old English Riddle," The Third Thing

“Old English Riddle,” The Third Thing



This one contains selections of both poetry and prose on the topic of water, with accompanying woodcut prints by Ralph Kiggell. The Third Thing is a fantastic example of how the McDowall’s harmonize a book’s contents, binding, and printing methods. The light blue case binding pictures swimming Japanese koi fish, and Nicolas McDowall used Japanese woodblock techniques on his western press to create prints with layers of translucent color that capture the fluidity of water.

Title page, The Third Thing

Title page, The Third Thing


Our collection of artists’ books is ever-growing and teeming with innovative ways to redefine the traditional codex; the Old Stile Press is only a small introduction to the craftsmanship found hidden amongst our Special Collections.




Written by Kathryn Downing, Cataloging Specialist

The post Handmade books and the Old Stile Press appeared first on An Acquired Taste - Swem Library Special Collections Blog.

Must Love Dogs: Knitting

28 February 2018 - 10:00am

If you’ve ever had a dog, you are no doubt aware of the amount of dog hair that accumulates on your floor, furniture, and clothes. There have likely been times when you have said something along the lines of “There’s enough hair here to knit a sweater.”  Well, if you ever get the desire to gather up all of that hair for such a purpose, the Chapin-Horowitz Collection of Books on Dogs can hook you up with “Knitting with Dog Hair: A Woof-to-Warp Guide to Making Hats, Sweaters, Mittens & Much More.”


According to the authors, dog hair “produces a yarn that has a lovely ‘halo’ of fuzz, much like mohair or angora. Though not as elastic, it is even warmer than wool.” Some of the reasons they advocate for knitting with dog hair include: it’s good for the environment, it’s kind to animals, and it reinforces family values because it is a craft the whole family can participate in.

In addition to various patterns for sweaters and cardigans, the authors provide a breed-by-breed run down of dog hair.  For example, the Bullmastiff has a “lousy coat for spinning,” the English Pointer has “no spinnable coat at all,” but the English Setter provides a “fairly soft topcoat to blend.”

The authors also make a really good point, at least in my opinion: “. . . clothes made from a critter you know and love are just so much more special than clothes made from some anonymous sheep.”

As an aside, if you’re interested in needlepoint, we also have books that feature dog patterns!


The post Must Love Dogs: Knitting appeared first on An Acquired Taste - Swem Library Special Collections Blog.