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Book Artist of the Month: Sarah McDermott

March 18, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


In 2010, Sarah McDermott completed Compendium of Domestic Incidents as her thesis from the University of Alabama. Sarah worked in collaboration with friend and writer Joanna Ruocco to continue an investigation on the intersection between the book arts and writing communities. 

Sarah has worked previously with Joanna, illustrating covers for two editions of her literary magazine Birkensnake and her first trade paperback, The Mothering Coven. Sarah is particularly drawn to the experimental nature of Joanna’s fictional writing and at the start of her thesis project was presented with several texts of Joanna’s, choosing the most complete work Compendium of Domestic Incidents, a group of prose poems centered on domestic spaces. The work involves the familiar interactions that occur during the course of everyday activities such as food preparation, eating, doctoring and living, elaborating on the erotic and sometimes violent interactions.

Sarah captured the feeling of the Joanna’s writing and connected it to the book by pairing the text with illustrations of interconnected body parts, of people wrestling, balancing between the erotic and violent. The line drawings are accompanied by screenprinted patterns. 

Made in an edition of 35, the book is sewn on tapes with an exposed spine. The text block is handmade paper of cotton rag and Alabama banana stems with the exception of one folio of machine-made Kozo. The text and illustrations are letterpress printed and silkscreened. Letterpress printing was done on a Vandercook press with polymer plates. The book is housed in a two-tone slipcase with a silkscreened image of a chicken’s foot.


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  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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