Thank you for watching my video and for having interest in this endeavor. Over the last year, I've had a bit of an adventure developing what has become this Kickstarter. This is the story of how I came to this project, what will be accomplished, why I am the perfect person to make it happen, what my progress is so far, and where all this Kickstarter loot is going.
The genesis of this project happened when I attended the Western Martial Arts Workshop hosted by the Chicago Swordplay Guild last September. I arrived at WMAW hardly knowing what to expect, prepared only with a few years of casual instruction in Capo Ferro and a lifelong interest in Sixteenth century Europe. I took classes where I learned many things and had a fantastic time being introduced to a whole new range of delightful weapons. However, the most formative experiences were my conversations with fascinating, intelligent, wise, and otherwise astonishing humans.
Through these conversations, I learned about the Historical European Martial Arts community and the experimental archaeology that they are doing to restore and develop our understanding of Europe’s martial arts. In particular, I spent long hours discussing Life, the Universe, and Everything (especially how it pertains to a life lived with a sword) with Roger Norling and Guy Windsor. These two brilliant and charismatic leaders in the HEMA community welcomed and encouraged me with friendship and knowledge.
The introduction that specifically developed into this project was that of Christopher VanSlambrouck, a co-founder of The Meyer Frei Fechter Guild. He told me about fencing master Joachim Meyer's Opus, A Foundational Description of the Art of Fencing and illustrated by the workshop of Tobias Stimmer first published in 1570.
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of Iowa. My coursework focused on the art history of Europe from 1500-1900, specifically the history of printing. In my studio classes, I discovered a particular talent in style mimicry and digital restoration and manipulation. Outside of college, I have pursued a career in freelance graphic design and illustration. Four years ago, I acquired my first letterpress and have since been producing hand printed cards under the imprint Draupnir Press.
Consequently, when Chris showed me the quality of the publicly available illustrations from Meyer’s Art of Fencing, I was disappointed. He then showed me high resolution digital photos of the 1600 Meyer from the private collection of the GdC center of studies. I could not wait to get my hands on them. To gauge interest within the western martial arts community, I digitally restored longsword plate D, sent it off to the engraver, and made a small run of ten letterpress prints at the original size. I brought these prints to the Second Annual Meyer Symposium where they were enthusiastically received. While there, I had many interesting conversations with attendees about how they use historical illustrations to help them understand the techniques described in texts. It became apparent that there is a clear need from researchers, collectors, and martial artists for high quality reproductions of historical images as research and pedagogic resources.
This is what the original images that I am working from look like:
I aim to publicly provide this resource as it was originally made, letterpress prints of 18.5 cm (7 ¼ in) wide and 12 cm (4 ¾ in) tall images. Since they won’t be bound in a book, I’ll be able to print them on beautiful Lanaquarelle paper with Vanson ink. Each print will be labeled with its number in the print run and the name of my press. If you so choose, these prints can be hand painted in historically accurate colors.
I am also working with two illustrations found elsewhere in the book. One is a portrait of Meyer that will be letterpress printed as a postcard. The other is the segno, a small but educational piece that teaches practitioners to cut to the four openings that I will produce as a magnet.
The images imbedded in the original text:
If you, my patron, wish it, I will also use my talents to enlarge each of these illustrations as paintings. There is so much detail in these woodblock prints that it could easily fill an A1 sheet of paper. Not only would owning at 15" x 22" (38cm x 56cm) painting of one of these illustrations be all sorts of awesome, but you would be bringing into the world a valuable resource. You will own the original painting, but I will keep a digital copy so that in the future it will be possible to print these images in multiple formats.
Paintings of fencing pairs that I have made from these sources:
I have also included a very special reward, the block mounted copper plate right out of my letterpress. Once they have done their work, these copper engravings with a light patina of the ink they had been pressing to paper are still beautiful and fit to be displayed.
My letterpress containing plate D:
First, I opened up the photographs of the GdC 1600 Meyer in Photoshop and then spent many hours using my historical knowledge and artistic skill to take away extraneous data and replace missing data. Extraneous data comes in the form of discolored paper, bleed from the ink on the other side of the paper, creases and bends of the paper, and places where ink was applied too thickly to the original woodblock. Data that needs replaced is a result of insufficient ink on the original woodblock. The ink differential varies greatly from print to print depending on if the ink application was heavy, light, or inconsistent.
Once this Kickstarter is funded, I’ll send the files off to the engraver. I expect it to cost approximately $1,000 to have the thirteen remaining plates and the Meyer portrait turned into printable engravings. At the same time, I’ll order the magnets and digitally printed postcards. The minimum order cost is about $500 for these items. I will also order all the supplies that I will need to fulfill your rewards. This includes paper, ink, and other tools to help put it all together as well as envelopes and boxes to ship the rewards out in. The costs for these supplies depend even more on the quantities that are ordered.
As soon as I have the necessary supplies, I will begin the process of printing, painting, packaging, and shipping. USPS may be the largest ticket item. The $3000 goal that I have set should be my breaking even point. Supporting my project beyond the goal is how I and kindly folk willing to assist me will be compensated for our efforts.
Upon completion, I will continue on to the second of the five projects based on the illustrations from Meyer’s A Foundational Description of the Art of Fencing. The second project will cover the dussack illustrations. The third project will cover the polearm section. The fourth project will be the restoration of the dagger and side sword sections. The fifth project will take all sixty-six illustrations and combine them into a book where each illustration is annotated, describing the significance of each of the fighting poses and techniques as well as the imagery used in the backgrounds.
Thank you for your interest in this project. Please spread the word and share this project with all of the fencers, fencer fanciers, bibliophiles, historical clothiers, art collectors, and any other possibly interested parties via your favorite form of digital media!
Wow! This project was funded in 50 hours! I am so grateful to all of my early backers and pleased to have found a project that resonates so strongly with a community that I care so deeply about.
Now that this project is guaranteed to happen, it's time to step it up and make it extra awesome.
If you have already pledged $10 or more, you may manually increase your pledge and add a note that you would like an add on reward. $25 for the fourteen 7" x 5" glossy prints, $15 for the 2015 Calendar, and/or $5 for the magnet.
When this project reaches $5k, I will include a digital download of a wallpaper of Meyer fencers for all the projects' backers' computers. ACHIEVED! A digital download will be available for all backers on the third of October.
Enough with the codpieces! When this project reaches $7k, I will begin the release of 14 photos of myself and a fellow woman fencer in these poses. ACHIEVED! Digital downloads will be available for all backers on the third of October.
When this project reaches $8k, I will include a 4" x 6" (10 cm x 15 cm) letterpress print of the 1570 portrait of Meyer / Cutting Diagram into each reward $10 or more. ACHIEVED!
When this project reaches $10k, I will release all fourteen plates at the original 7.25" x 4.75" size at 300dpi as Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons licensed images to backers. ACHIEVED!
Another photo will be released at each $500 pledged. Here's the next one:
Risks and challenges
My primary artistic challenge is knowing when the digital restoration process is complete. I have begun the process on all of the illustrations, but only a few feel finished. In many of these images there are places in the originals where the illustration is either obscured or missing. I am using my knowledge of the technique used to create these illustrations and the materiel being illustrated to draft seamless patches. This adds an additional layer of uncertainty in the determination of when every pixel is just right. Before sending these images off to the engraver, I will have them inspected by several Meyer experts.
The only production challenge that I can foresee is if this project is so successful that my letterpresses are not able to accommodate sufficiently large print runs. If this happy complication arrises, I will leverage my contacts within the letterpress community to either refurbish one of my letterpresses or rent time on a letterpress that has greater capabilities than my own.
A logistical challenge may arise if there are many rewards to be shipped outside of the US. My research indicates that at a certain point it becomes advantageous to utilize shipping methods other than the USPS for overseas delivery. While I am confident that I will be able to deliver to destinations within the US by the holiday season, foreign shipments for items other than the thank you postcard may be made in January.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)