Jan Bohuslav Sobota died on May 2nd of 2012 and this is my remembrance of this fine man who was a friend and mentor to me. Each autumn, salmon return to the rivers of their birth a€“ there to spawn and once again trigger a renewal of the eternal passion play.
Salmon that do eventually arrive at their destinations must once again compete a€“ this time for mates and to fight for access to the precious and very limited gravels. The profligate expenditure of life and extravagant wealth of biology is there everywhere to behold, as Death dances lightly among the gathering throngs of fish, picking and choosing from among them; who from their number shall successfully spawn and who shall just be food for the gathering predators and scavengers.
Spend a day in silence, walking among the spawning salmon, as they dig spawning redds, jockey for position and slash at competitors with those gaping, snaggletoothed, hooked jaws.
Jan Bohuslav Sobota has died, while half a world away; I was preparing these etchings of Spawned Salmon and dedicating them to Jan, the lover of fish. The book you hold in your hands has evolved from my simply giving these etchings a second life in book form, to my using them as a vehicle for honoring a friendship of three decades.
In 1985, Jan and I had been corresponding for some months without ever meeting a€“ all quite distant and correct. A short bit of background on Jan Sobota to begin, but fear not; Ia€™ll soon be spinning anecdotes and thoughts on books as art a€“ celebrating Jana€™s life of course, telling a few stories out of school, but also straying into the personal and speculative in search of the meaning to be derived from the life and death of a friend. Jana€™s father was a serious bibliophile and collector of fine books, who nurtured that same love of books in his son a€“ an appreciation that steadily grew, until he was apprenticed to master bookbinder Karel A ilinger in PlzeA?. The pivotal event in Jana€™s early life as a book artist was the posthumous retrospective exhibition of fellow Pilsener, Josef VA?chal in 1969. Jan supported a family, sponsored workshops, exhibited widely, did conservation work on rare historic books, ran a gallery a€“ and on it went. What Jan did for contemporary bookbinding, was to act as a bridge between the traditionally trained masters of the past and innovators of the present. America was a great place to be a book artist in the early 1980a€™s precisely because it was an active zone of hybridization and hotbed of creativity. An instructive contrast to the anything-goes US scene was the icy reception I got when I showed a wooden box containing loose sheets of poetry and etchings to a Prague publisher.
Neither Jan nor I had much interest in the book-like objects that often sneak into the museums as book arts a€“ the carved and glued together things that sorta, kinda have a bookish aspect to them a€“ rough-looking a€“ perhaps chain-sawed Oaken boards or granite slabs, slathered in tar and lashed together with jute; but lacking text. When Jana€™s books went beyond function, conservation or decoration, they were subtle statements about binding and the place of books, knowledge and art, as well as statements about the dignity inhering in the handcrafted - with a good dose humor.
There are others who know their conservation and those, whose scientific contributions are far greater, but few of them are also artists at heart. It can sound so pedestrian, these eternal compromises between art and craft, yet what Jan represented was not at all common. There is an inflection point at which exceptional craft begins to make the transition to art and it is closely associated with surmounting the limitations inhering to the discipline.
Visiting with Jan in his workshop you quickly realized, that he did what a professional must, but ultimately, he just loved messing about with books.
A curiously protean hybrid of artist and craftsman, ancient and modern, one cannot think of Jan without seeing an unabashed Czech patriot in a foreign land. Early on in their stay in Cleveland, the Sobotas experienced the quintessential American disaster. Even after their medical debts were retired, money was still an issue for a family of immigrants with three kids a€“ two with special needs. Later on, when they were living in Texas, the massacre at Waco opened Jana€™s eyes to yet another difficult side of his adopted home. In 1979, I apprenticed with Jindra Schmidt, an engraver of stamps and currency, living in Prague.
Schmidt had engraved stamps for Bulgaria, Iraq, Ethiopia, Albania, Guinea, Vietnam and Libya.
In 1992, Jindra Schmidt was honored for his contributions and depicted on the last stamp of a united Czechoslovakia, before it split into Czech and Slovak republics a€“ a fitting tribute. Unlike most children of immigrants, my destiny remained connected to that of my parentsa€™ homeland. My vocation as artist clarified itself in Prague while learning the increasingly obsolete skills of steel engraving.
My first book was indeed, modeled after VA?chal, even to the extent of its diabolical subject matter. Jan showed me a great deal in the following years about the tradition of books as the meeting place of art, craft and ideas a€“ where printmaking intergrades seamlessly with the worlds of language, typography and illustration. One can like these things just fine and admire them from an uncomprehending distance, or you can become engaged. The book you hold was to have been a simple reprint of the Spawned Salmon a€“ something fun for Jan to work his magic upon.
Nice sentimental reminiscences, but there is still the matter of getting the work accomplished and out before the public, organizing exhibitions, printing catalogs and paying for transatlantic flights.
The Prague show was reconfigured and curated by Jana€?s longtime friend, Ilja A edo, for exhibition at the West Bohemian Museum in PlzeA?. Quite predictably, I like seeing the kind of work I do honored a€“ the wood engravings and etchings made to shine in the context of crisply printed type and an excellent binding. Ia€™ve heard printmakers lament that the surest way to devalue prints is to add excellent poetry, sensitive typography and a bang-up binding a€“ and then live to see the whole thing sell for half the price of just the unbound prints.
Therea€™s nothing quite like seventeenth century Bohemia, the dead center of Europe, for particularly thorough violence a€“ with the Bubonic Plague stepping in afterwards as mop-up crew. The chapel at Sedlec was rebuilt after the major blood-letting of the thirty-years war as a memento mori a€“ reminder of death. What can you say about the mounds of dead, the ruined lives, destroyed nations and misery multiplied by millions that isna€™t trite or self-evident?
But then I pan over to other fields a€“ not the kind where the grass is composting my fellow man, but to fields of endeavor where the ferment is of ideas recombining into ever more refined ways of thinking. I once lived at the Golem house in Prague a€“ at Meislova ulice, number 8, in the old Jewish ghetto. Horoscopes might seem a curious basis on which to select ministers and diplomats, but it is also more common than youa€™d think. Picture the scene before you: Ita€™s a late night in Prague, before the Marlboro man dominated every street corner, even before the neon of casinos and the vulgarity of Golden Arches assaulted the nightwalkersa€™ eyes at all hours a€“ back when darkness, oh yes, that beautiful comforting velvety, all-enveloping and blessed dark, broken only by the moon, stars and late night taxis, still ruled the streets after the sun went down. The Golem was a mythic being of Jewish folklore, created from clay and quickened by the Shem, a magical stone engraved with an ancient Hebraic inscription, inserted into Golema€™s forehead.
The maternal tongues of these small nations have miraculously survived all the invasions, floods, plagues and foreign occupiers to this day a€“ a gift preserved and delivered to them across the generations. Minority languages, on the other hand, carry an emotional load that can scarcely be exaggerated. Ishi and his sister were the last of the Yahi tribe to survive the genocidal colonization of California. Those whose language and culture are not threatened can never know the burden under which the carriers of small minority languages labor a€“ nor how those in exile bring up their children to preserve that which is beyond their capacities to save. Jan was all about preserving traditions and the kind of ancestral knowledge that today is mostly enshrined in books. Today, the stories of our tribes are less and less passed on as oral tradition and most often read to us from the childrena€™s books wea€™ve learned to treasure a€“ illustrated by fine artists and produced with care for the highly discriminating purchasers of childrena€™s books a€“ for grandparents. A?epelA?k employed binders and typesetters to present complete suites of his work and in this too, he introduced me to a new world. Later in Prague I missed my flight back, due to the World Trade Center bombing and was delayed by a week. The difficult thing to bear in acknowledging my teachers, models, heroes, suppliers and inspirations, is that these masters of the crafts and industries surrounding and supporting the book arts are mostly deceased.
The fruit we seek is not fast food, but laden with full-bodied flavors, attained by slow natural processes. All of us come from grandfathers who once were wheelwrights, cobblers or instrument makers; men with a profound love of wood and leather, who knew the working qualities of every kind of obscure tree growing in their countryside a€“ men who knew when to reach for elm or hickory a€“ as well as for goat, dog or even fish-skins. Jan spoke fondly of his grandmother, who baked bread every week of the year to feed an entire estate a€“ farm hands, livery people, gentry, trainers and hod-carriers alike. Working consciously is the ultimate goal a€“ and that is the legacy youa€™ll find evidently contained within and upon the boards of every book bound by Jan Bohuslav Sobota.
The etchings you see here first came to life as illustrations for the wedding anniversary announcements of MA­la and Jaroslav KynA?l. Jan Bohuslav Sobota died on May 2nd of 2012 and this is my remembrance of this fine man who was a friend and mentor to me.A  He was an exceptional bookbinder, teacher and promoter of the book arts, but also an exile who successfully returned home after years abroad. The WavEco 2.6M Slatted Floor Dinghy is incredibly lightweight and if you are a looking for a dinghy which has been designed for leisure use, then look no further. The Dubarry Derg Performance Jacket is perfect as a technical layering jacket with a waterproof and breathable membrane.


A stylish sailing or casual jacket with a better fit and flexibility than the previous version. This item will be sent through the Global Shipping Programme and includes international tracking. By clicking Confirm bid, you are committing to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder and have read and agree to the Global Shipping Programme terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. By clicking 1 Click Bid, you are agreeing to buy this item from the seller if you're the winning bidder.
This is a private listing and your identity will not be disclosed to anyone except the seller. They must have a different kind of sea at Plymouth – for at the end of November, just a couple of weeks ago, fearless Will Stirling actually went swimming in it and survived, as the photos above show.
Will reports that the construction of Plymouth Breakwater began in 1812 and completed in 1841. The beacon on the Eastern End has a spherical steel cage on top that can accomodate six shipwrecked sailors – though Will is dubious about the the benefits of dying slowly from exposure in the cage rather than dying quickly by drowning. Fowey boat builder Marcus Lewis has this newly built 11ft clinker-built rowing dinghy for sale.
The handsome little boat is based on a tender to the sailing yacht Veronique owned by Colonel Treffry, of Place near Fowey in the 1930s.
Also, the 18ft Percy Mitchell-built Tosher Marcus has stored for some time has got to go because he needs the space it is currently occupying. It needs a complete rebuild, but Marcus says it has suberbly shaped hull suitable for almost anything. The photos show Will and Dave arriving at St Helier (courtesy of the Jersey Evening post), the moment before leaving Start Point, and Will on the helm somewhere out at sea. The plan was to sail the 14ft traditionally built wooden dinghy across the English Channel to coincide with the Jersey Boat Show – and the aim was to highlight the seaworthy qualities of the dinghy’s design. Following dinghy capsize and immersion trials in our dry suits, we were confident that we could deal with all foreseeable eventualities. The principal passage planning concerns were the shipping lanes and the tides around the Channel Islands, and we chose a route that took us outside the traffic separation zone and avoided the worst tidal areas.
Chris Tibbs, an offshore weather expert who lives just a mile from the Stirling and Son yard, telephoned on Wednesday morning to tell me that there was a weather window for the next 48 hours. Everything had been organised down to the smallest detail: even the luminous compass was charged under a desk-top light.
I rang Rob Cattell whose phone number I was lucky enough to have on the mobile and who I thought lived on our route.
What could a compass be needed for at this time of night and why would anybody be launching a small boat from a peninsula beach in the dark?
So here was Rob’s former tutor turning up late at night in his underwear to borrow a compass.
In the dark we lowered the heavy dinghy over the ledge stern first and then lifted the bow down before skidding her on an old door that we had found across the beach to the water. The wind became stronger as we left the land, and we soon had a good deal of spray coming over the foredeck, which was unpleasant.
After two hours of rowing a light breeze filled in from the north east and blew us steadily on towards Guernsey.
We sailed around La Hanois and set a south easterly course for La Corbiere Lighthouse on the south western tip of Jersey at a distance of twenty four miles.
Having been awake for a day of work, a night of sailing and a day of sailing, we were both extremely tired during this second night, and I begun to hallucinate sounds. As the dawn broke through the night, the wind died and we found ourselves at the turn of the tide two cables from the light house and associated rocks. We rowed as fast as we could towards the lighthouse and having tried to anchor again and failed to find the bottom, grabbed hold of a fisherman’s buoy. Stupidly we grabbed it aft of midships and quickly had the buoy trapped between rudder and transom with the boat facing aft into the tide. This was frightening as the boat lurched when she was broadside on to the tide, and we could have been awash in moments – but she sat very comfortably when moored by the bow.
Meanwhile the La Corbiere lighthouse was playing a merry tune on its fog horn a cable away from us – it was very loud and there were five hours of foul tide to go before we could go on.
Notwithstanding the noise we both fell asleep for two hours after having eaten some more hot beans. We had six miles to sail in a direct line to St Helier, but unfortunately the wind was coming straight from St Helier. We tacked out to sea against the end of an adverse tide. I rang the organiser at St Helier, Nigel Philpott, to say that we would beach the boat in St Brelade’s Bay, the first sandy beach that we could reach. Having tied up the boat and enjoyed a dazed walk ashore we were taken to St Helier’s best hotel, the Pomme D’Or where we washed, ate and slept. Stirling and Son undertake traditional yacht building and wooden boat repair, and are based at Tavistockin Devon. Have you got news for us?If what you're doing is like the things you read about here - please write and tell us what you're up to. Classic Sailor is a new magazine about traditional and classic boats from ex-Classic Boat editor Dan Houston and colleagues that promises rather more coverage of the traditional craft around our coast. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Follow me on TwitterLooking for something?This is a busy weblog, and what you're looking for is probably still here - just a little way down the list now. Our Faversham-based friend Alan Thorne can help with boatbuilding projects - constructing to plans in very tidy stitch-and-glue or more traditional techniques. There they encounter resident trout and bass a€“ even sunfish, chubs and dace, all keyed into the increasingly plentiful and highly nutritious bounty of salmon eggs.
Situated 90A km south-west of Prague at the confluence of four rivers, PlzeA? is first recorded in writings from the tenth century. That vision was about innovation and creativity within the context of an historical tradition. This is what youa€™ll see in a Sobota binding a€“ exceptional attention paid to context and relationships, using materials and technical means that do indeed function and last. He knew his work was valuable and documented it fastidiously a€“ confident that it would be last. There was, however, nothing about his nationalism that demeaned anybody elsea€™s traditions or origins. That smallish incident within the parade of American fringe politics elicited an insanely violent level of suppression. Masaryk a€“ and the cute little girl with a bouquet of flowers, is my mother Eva, at the age of three. Schmidta€™s income from the federal mint far exceeded anybody elsea€™s in the extended family and supported a network of cars, cottages and rent-controlled flats. Schmidt, as he preferred to be called, was a man of conservative demeanor who preferred polite and reserved forms of speech and address. While visiting their unassuming engraver and extending my tourist visa 30 days at a time, I was quietly becoming qualified for life as a counterfeiter a€“ a vocation within which, one is set for life, however it may eventually turn out. Jan allowed several binders to have their way with it a€“ amo boxes for slipcases with shell casings for hinges and so forth.
This next incarnation of our exhibit in PlzeA? was all just a bit more prosaic and provincial.
Is it the binding we consider and exhibit a€“ or is the binding there to conserve a text, which is ultimately the point? There are also binders to whom everything else is merely the text block, who care little if it is an offset trade edition or a book made by hand. The tales therein recorded reflected the accreted wisdom and wit of a people as they retold them across the highlands in modest log cottages after the harvest was in. The way of working belongs to the Sobota vision I addressed earlier a€“ the honor and soul to be found in conscientiously made handcrafts. I dona€™t feel that accomplished or ready to assume their mantle and yet with every generation that is what must happen. Gravels, with just the right flow of fresh water running up through stones of the right size are but a tiny portion of the riverbed.A  The salmon must struggle past cities and sewer pipes, farms and irrigation systems, dams and turbines, fishermen and waterfalls a€“ just to reach the streams of their birth.
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Last week we recovered the anchor which had become caught under a rock but was none the worse after four months in Mr D Jones’ locker.
It is 1,560 metres long, 13 metres wide at the top and 65 metres at the base, lies in about 10 metres of water and is composed of 4 million tons of rock.


The 14ft Expedition dinghy is one of the company’s range of handsome clinker-built dinghies. It is planked in spruce, with steamed oak timbers, mahogany top strake and seats, and will be supplied complete with a pair of scoop paddles, bronze rowlocks, and a cover.
She is built of mahogany on oak, copper and bronze fastened with a gold leaf inlaid cove line and carved scroll-work. The distance to be travelled, if we could follow a direct course, was 95 miles from Start Point in Devon to St Helier harbour on Jersey. We carried a hand-held VHF, GPS, EPIRB, Iridium telephone, radar reflector and and offshore flare pack including white collision flares. We adjusted the passage plan to suit the weather window and decided to leave from the Start Point area at midnight that evening, the 2nd May 2012.
At 2230 on a dark night, I found it difficult to explain that we were planning to sail across the channel and mumbled something about launching a dinghy from the beach. Rob had two hand bearing compasses and as luck would have it his house was right on our route. The voyage had been planned so that we would cross the shipping lanes to the west of the Casquets Separation Zone in daylight.
Due to a north west-going tide the dinghy had to be steered west of south, and with the wind having backed to NNE we were sailing dead downwind.
We then tacked again and were able to make the course to La Corbiere which we could now see at a distance of eight miles. We both donned our Russian hats with their ear flaps pulled down, and hoped our ears wouldn’t start bleeding. We made slow progress as the wind increased to a steady F4, which by now was almost too much for us both. Nigel thought that would be fine but that it would be better if we could reach St Helier for the media.
Try scrolling down, clicking on the 'older posts' button at the bottom of this page - or try the search gadget! This widely beloved stamp was re-issued in 2000 and mother continues to receive philatelic fan mail to this day. He died the day I was composing a colophon for the Spawned Salmon with words of praise for his lifea€™s work.
If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. The balanced lug sail is of clipper canvas with three strand rope rove through bronze and ash blocks.
An hour after we had left I remembered where the compass was – at home and still under the desk  lamp. With the dry suit open at the waist an enthusiastic wave top leapt over the foredeck and straight into my underpants; the extent of the error became apparent when I stood up and felt the cold rivulets of seawater run down and collect in the foot of the dry suit.
Crossing the shipping lanes was one of the principal concerns of the voyage, and I felt that we would be able to judge distances better in daylight.
To the south of the shipping lanes the wind died away to give a flat calm sea through which we had to row. We had come to the east of the direct course from Start Point to La Hanois lighthouse in order to gain some distance to windward in case the north easterly wind veered round towards the east. As we sailed through areas of slight overfalls I was concerned that the dinghy might be turned by the current, which would cause a gybe and a possible capsize. We sailed south south east and as La Corbiere became due east of our position I began to worry that if the wind came back from the north east as expected we may find it hard to reach Jersey at all.
We needed to attach ourselves if we were not to be washed back out to sea and lose several miles made good.
The engraving was masterfully done by Schmidta€™s long-dead colleague, Bohumil Heinz (1894-1940).
The state security apparatus was surely aware of my presence, but if they kept tabs on me, I never knew. We couldn’t consider the trip without the compass. What could we do as the tidal window had to be met? We arrived back at the same junction for the third time minus one trailer mudguard and phoned Rob again.
Finally, the recent stormy weather had washed the shingle beach away and there was a 3ft 6in drop off the end of the steep slipway onto large rocks embedded in the remaining shingle.
I cooked a can of beans on the MSR stove and a saucepan of tea for us both, which proved a a morale-booster. With a great effort Dave managed to push the buoy underneath the rudder while I warned him not to fall in on any account. After an hour and a half the tide turned and we made much better progress over a choppier sea with wind against tide, and finally reached St Helier at 1330 on Friday. Everything is just so wonderful and everybody so creative, but suspending judgment long enough to actually look at some artwork and then giving it a chance isna€™t so bankrupt, is it? Human body parts are again flying and the Baron is at his best defeating Turks and evading friendly fire from buffoonish generals.
Farmers would occasionally find their possessions and take them as souvenirs, unaware that the last Indians still lived in their midst.
Damn the cost; ita€™s who we are and the last material vestiges of soulful encounters with our elders a€“ onea€™s whose stories are slipping inexorably away, thinned by each passing year and generation. Their kids were grown and they were by then slipping into that last, reflective phase of life a€“ done competing.
These scraps turned out to be a deck of medieval playing cards - the second oldest such cards known. A book is so much more than the sum of its parts a€“ and yet each of us tends to have our own bailiwick in which we shine and to which we look first.
These plates have been inked and wiped by hand, employing methods that woulda€™ve been familiar to Rembrandt.
They crashed with my wife Jana and me in Kalamazoo, while taking the a€?orientation coursea€?nearby. I can confidently report back to my English reader, that Jan would only grow in stature for you, if you could have fully understood the subtlety of his thoughts in his own maternal tongue. Perhaps right for those who shouldna€™t have sharp objects, for fear of hurting themselves. That show was purchased whole by Special Collections at Western Michigan University and constitutes the largest collection of Sobota bindings and the most complete archive of my work. Few people would have cast a second glance at that glued-up mess of moldering old papers before pitching it, nor would they have recognized what they had in hand or known how to restore or sell it. These folks were a profound blessing to a family facing some truly rough sailing a€“ a Godsend. Schmidt had worked was signed with warm dedications to him and thus worth real money to collectors. He wanted to see the printmaker in me come to full fruition and I wanted to be worthy of his attentions. The family has dwelled within sight of the seats of power, pushing copper plates through a press and outlived the Hapsburg Monarchy, First Republic, Nazis and Communists.
The intact packages were still there on their shelves, all duly graded, labeled and priced, awaiting an owner who was never to return. Back home, their Czech neighbors would have envied them and accused them of theft or worse, but people here seemed to be pleased as punch to see them prosper a€“ genuinely happy for them. Those items too, kept trickling out the door, until there came a sad, sad day, when the golden eggs were all gone.
They bashfully admitted their foolishness and went back to making beautiful books a€“ and their American friends were so relieved to see them regain their sanity. You take time to grieve and then pick yourself up by your bootstraps (by God a€“ get a grip) and get on with it (Rome wasna€™t built in a day you know). StrejA?ek was still working, but it was all coming to an inevitable end, as he grew shaky of hand and hard of seeing. Enriched by my days of being nurtured by Prague, Matkou MA›st (Mother of Cities), I moved on to meet my destiny with art.



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