The Studio in 2009

Every other year in January Norddeutsche Handpressenmesse, a well established book arts fair, is held over one weekend. It is organized by Heinz-Stefan and Wiebke Bartkowiak, who also publish Bartkowiaks ForumBookArt, a review and yearbook of contemporary book arts. This is my first year as an exhibitor at the fair which is held at the Museum der Arbeit with its fascinating department on letterpress printing. Sarah Bodman, who lectures at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol, has a table there as well. She is a lecturer at the Centre of Print Research (CFPR) and also represents the al-Mutanabbi-Street coalition in Europe. The group has formed around Beau Beausoleil (USA) and initiates international arts projects to commemorate a car bomb attack on al-Mutanabbi-Street, the place of bookshops and teahouses in Baghdad. The first of the coalition’s projects is the Broadside Project.

My contribution is a poem by William Butler Yeats Where My Books Go with a woodcut, printed on a sheet painted with earthen pigments prior to printing. The idea behind the design is that during the bombing the print was blown out of its frame and into the dust and debris. Once recovered it is smeared with dust and dirt from the bombing. Over the next years I‘ll take part in a number of these projects. One of their many aims is to preserve cultural heritage and protect the freedom of speech.

In 2009 it appears that hardly a single newspaper headline can do without the word “crisis”. Thus the idea of a portfolio on the theme of crisis comes into being, and the portfolio ends up with the title bleikloetzles krisenseiten (bleikloetzle‘s pages of crisis). The subheading is “13 clever sayings in case all has gone stupid once more” which is totally self-explanatory. The portfolio comes with 13 broadsides each of which has one aphorism plus a lino etching. The etching resembles the eagle that used to be on the 5-DMark coins, no longer the currency of Germany, since the introduction of the euro.

It is 10 years since the studio was founded, and the museum of the city of Göppingen in Baden-Württemberg, offers to run a retrospective exhibition of my works. In this solo exhibition with the title Widerdruck (perfecting or second printing) many prints, broadsides and artist‘s books are on show.

The artist‘s book, especially printed for the 10-year jubilee is Die Schöne Lau (Beautiful Lau). It is based on Eduard Moerike’s tale, which is included in his Stuttgart’s Hutzelmannlin, and I transferred the rather long text into a street ballad fitted to a common tune. Years ago I had met Ursula Groh, who plays the barrel organ, and the two of us perform the whole song, just like in the olden days, during the jubilee exhibit in the studio. The text is connected to the studio in that the vital element is a little lump of lead which happens to be magical, and is part of the iconic Swabian tongue twister. The studio‘s name is bleiklötzle, which means: little lump of lead, and refers to the metal type I work with. This carries its own kind of magic.

Artist’s book “Schöne Lau”, concertina book, every copy with unique cover made of blue fabric

The research on the history of street ballads results in three broadsides. Plus a new encounter with my longtime favourite writer Kurt Tucholsky. But this is a different story entirely.

Printwise the year is very productive. A number of broadsides are made with poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke. I experiment with paper batik prior to printing. The poems used are The Panther and Extinguish my Eyes. A third poem I live my life is combined with schlagmetal (metal leaf).

Totally unexpectedly and sadly Harald Goldhahn, dear friend and colleague, dies shortly before Christmas this year aged 54. He was a blues musician and into what he called image relief print, meaning wood- and linocut, but not working with metal type. We collaborated on two booklets for his CD‘s: Good Moves on the Water in 2001 and Blues and Beyond in 2005.

Briefly noted:

Exhibiting at 20th Minipressenmesse in Mainz

Exhibiting at 6th Norddeutschen Handpressenmesse in Hamburg

Exhibiting at Druck&Buch in Erlangen

Taking part at Nürnberger Handpressentreffen

Published in 2009:

„Kaiserberge mit Turm“, lino etching

„Der Turm“, lino etching

Series of portraits of writers, lino etchings

„Where my Books Go“ poem by W. B. Yeats, broadside with woodcut, earthen pigments, contribution for al-Mutanabbi-Street Broadside Project

Lösch mir die Augen aus“ poem by R. M. Rilke, broadside with paper batik

Der Panther“ poem by R. M. Rilke, broadside with paper batik

„Ich lebe meine Leben“ poem by R. M. Rilke, broadside with schlagmetall

„Ingrimm“ ballad by P. Scheerbarth, broadside with lino etching

„Capriccio“ ballad by A. Lichtenstein, broadside with lino etching

„Meine Kakerlake“ ballad by W. Wiesel, broadside with lino etching

„60 Jahre Grundgesetz“, broadside with lino etching

„Cock-a-Leekie“ – recipe with lino etching, contribution for Drucktopf

„Die Schoene Lau“ artist‘s book, linocut for the poster, artist‘s book with portfolio

„bleikloetzles krisenseiten“ 13 broadsides in portfolio, with lino etchings


Norddeutsche Handpressenmesse, since 2017 by the name „Buch DruckKunst – Erlesenes auf Papier“ in Hamburg

Museum der Arbeit

Mainzer Minipressenmesse

for Druck&Buch in Erlangen during Poets’ Feast: Johannes Häfner

BookArts at Bristol

To be continued on 2 May 2024

In time for the 10th birthday of the studio the doors can be decorated with the studio’s name and image


  1. These blog postings are getting lovelier and lovelier. Could you one day send me the text of the iconic Swabian little lump of lead tongue-twister? I sort of remember the tongue-twister about a green painted little garden fence.

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