Asemic, Bookbinding

Make Do and…


I had a little time. I was in a cafe. They had coffee stirrers. I had linen thread. And a pen.






For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

                                                – T.S Elliot




I am proud to be featured in an online exhibition of asemic writing at Bright Stupid Confetti, the online gallery of contemporary art.  Curated by Michael Jacobson, the exhibition features work by Satu Kaikkonen, Jim Wittenberg, John M. Bennett, Rosaire Appel, Marco Giovenale and Cheryl Penn amongst others. Go there now; you won’t be disappointed.


Asemic Book Art

I have recently finished a new artist’s book that utilises one of the new asemic systems that I developed for Pabulum. The text picks up from the style of the cover, which was constructed from samples of vintage typewritten text to create a faux vintage quality as if this mysterious writing had been typed on an old Imperial or some such relic.

The boards are covered in rich blue leather and the front features a deep emboss of one of the glyphs.

This is a structure I have been experimenting with recently but this is the first time I have used it for a finished book.

When closed there is little to suggest anything different about this book, but it is when you look carefully you notice layers and textures.

The book opens flat to reveal a folded pocket accordion structure. This format is called the blizzard book and was created by bookbinding guru Hedi Kyle whilst stranded in her home by adverse weather.

The structure is made from a single sheet of paper – no sewing, glue or tabs are required for this, just accurate measurements and some very careful folding. The spine is exposed which allows it to open fully. In fact, this structure naturally springs open to create the fan display.

The pages act as pockets to hold the inserts, made from waxed handmade paper and Indian ink. These simply slip in and out.

As well as the asemic lettering which I believe is fairly convincingly typewritten, I am pleased with the general tactile qualities of the piece, which I have tried to get across in these images. There is one more thing that I have deliberately left until last – the scale:

The book measures just 60 x 50 x 17mm. I think it needs a box now…



Ladies and Gentleman of the internet, I am proud to present my second asemic book; “Pabulum”

 This second book continues with the asemic script established in ‘Four Fools,’  but also introduces several new writing systems – some with definite links to the original and others that provide counterpoints to the narrative possibilities in the first book.

This book is not a traditional sequel to ‘Four Fools,’ and it is not necessary to have read the first book before this, but both books are linked by their intrinsic intuitive narrative.

‘Pabulum’ can be purchased here, along with ‘Four Fools.’ You can also click on the links at the foot of this blog, or go to the blurb website and type in ‘asemic’ or ‘lestaret.’

Please let me know what you think…


The Second Coming…

My second asemic book is in the final stages of completion and will be ready very soon. I have been working on this periodically throughout the year and it has taken quite a few different turns along the way. I decided not to blog about this whilst it was in progress as it would have been very fragmented, and I wasn’t sure at times whether it would come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Well, it has, and I am now in the last throes of finalising the pagination and making a few last ‘tweaks’ to ensure the best visual impact. As a little teaser I can let you know that as well as my original asemic typeface, several new writing systems appear in this book, one of which can be seen in the test sampler below:

The first book ‘Four Fools’ went on sale almost a year ago, and has sold remarkably well considering the lack of any real marketing beyond this blog and a feature on The New Post-Literate, so I assume it’s largely from word of mouth. Thankyou to you all. The new book ‘Pabulum’ continues and develops the asemic theme, introducing the new elements throughout, sometimes in very subtle ways and abruptly in others.

Once again, the book will be published through the marvellous Blurb organisation and of course, will be priced to fit the most austere budget…

Asemic, calligraphy


I bought a couple of Islamic manuscripts recently. I guess I wanted to see (ok – own) some original examples and take time to really study the structures, penmanship and linework.

I don’t have much information except for the brief notes supplied by the Lebanese seller, but I’m still hunting around for other bits of relevance on the web.  The first example is labelled as ‘Islamic Manuscript Alkasida Alsaniah 1125 AH’  
This very beautiful Islamic manuscript represents a piece of the art of Arabic Calligraphy of North African style. It is a part of a larger book titled “Alkasida Alsaniah Fi Ahlo Almakamat Alsaniah.” The author is a narrator who documents the works of most famous Sufi Islamic Jurisprudences (Fiqh) in North Africa. Unfortunately, there is no identification of who this was, but it is dated 1125 AH (1713 AD) .

I love that every stroke can be traced in the ink, but disappointed with gold application…

This style of arabic is called Maghrebi and originated in the northwest region of Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya,  Mauritania, Western Sahara) and later in southern Spain.

This is a single leaf with each side written in black and red with blue and gold details. The text is framed inside a double lined red frame. As expected of paper of this age, there is some foxing around the edges and a couple of worm holes, but these do not detract from its overall appearance.

The second page attracted me for quite different reasons.


This leaf is part of a very old Islamic manuscript about Fiqh (Islamic Law). This manuscript is titled “Fath Al-Wahab Bi-Sharh Manhaj Al-Tollab” and dated 1024 AH (1615 AD). It represents Sharia and Islamic law explanation according to Imam Muhammad Bin Idriss Al-Shafeii.

 This is a single leaf with each side written in black and red. It is in similar condition as the previous leaf  although the corners are considerably more worn. It measures 297 x 185mm.


Chinese Calligraphy Workbooks #4

I recently posted a few images from an old chinese calligraphy workbook I bought earlier this year. I like the asemic qualities of oriental scripts and I was curious about the physical qualities too, particularly their papers and bindings. This last one is perhaps the newest of the three, and comes in a slipcase:

The cover itself is largely the same but with a title strip pasted on.

This book is perfect bound – a modern technique that glues the sections of the book together and encloses the cover around. Whilst this is a cheaper alternative to sewing and the like, it lacks the elegance of the other two and does not open up as naturally:

There are some ‘mechanical’ glyphs at the front and back, as well as these nifty double ‘throw-outs’

I bought these books out of curiosity just to examine them in more detail, as well as add some oriental charm to my collection of type, graphics and printed ephemera. They have sparked a few ideas within my own asemic work, and I hope that they will become useful reference material to me in the years to come – even if it is not in a way that they were intended!