Cultures of the Book - ENGL 034 - "The Wheat Headpiece"
William Jaggard, a British printer, printed The First Folio of Comedies and Tragedies of William Shakespeare in 1623. Included in the prefatory material for the tome were several decorative woodblocks. One in particular was characterized by a bundle of wheat at the top center. Known only as "The Wheat Headpiece", this block had already suffered much damage before reaching the pages of Shakespeare's First Folio. It had been used in both secular and non-secular books and pamphlets in the preceding decades. The travels of the block can be traced by the size of the crack and the eventual complete cracking of the wheat bundle.
For this project, I re-created this design in Adobe Illustrator based on a series of photographs of the block. This design was then engraved into a type-high prepared maple block with a Universal Systems Carbon-Dioxide Laser Cutter. The design was then printed on a Vandercook letterpress over 400 times on vegetable parchment. The prints were bound into a 400-page hardcover book, in folio. The remaining prints were marked as a broadside series. Additionally, I printed a series of 25 on Japanese kozu paper to serve as handwriting stationary.