YEARS AGO, a friend of Walter Hamady said (as Hamady himself recalls), “right in front of my mother, ‘Walter, you are a bastard!’ And my dear sweet mother pulled up bigger than life-size and with huffy indignation said, ‘He is not a bastard! I know who his father was and we were married at the time!’” 
Hamady was still young when his parents’ marriage broke up. On his father’s side, he is a descendant of Lebanese (Druze) immigrants who founded a prominent grocery store chain in Flint, Michigan. His mother was a physician (a pediatrician and, later, a psychiatrist). Also, he is quick to note, she was a “book nut,” from Keokuk, Iowa. One product of that marriage was Walter Samuel Haatoum Hamady, who also answers to the names of Walter Semi-Hittite Hamady, WshH, or Voltaire the Hamadeh.










However he portrays himself, Hamady is a designer, typographer, printer, papermaker, book artist, collagist, assemblagist, poet—and a book nut. From 1966 until his retirement, he was an influential teacher at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in a studio known simply  as 6451, because that was the room number. During those many years, among his scores of students were Janet Ballweg, Gretchen Lee Coles, Lester Doré, Jim Escalante, Marta Gomez, Susan Gosin, Beth Grabowski, Lane Hall, Kevin Henkes, Kent Kasuboske, Katherine Kuehn, Jim Lee, Ruth Lingen, Shiere Melin, Lisa Moline, Jeffrey Morin, Cathie Ruggie Saunders, Pati Scobey, Bonnie Stahlecker, Margaret Sunday, Barbara Tetenbaum, Walter Tisdale, and Debra Weier. There is a long list of others as well.
Long after his retirement, Hamady continues to be widely praised for his achievements as a teacher. At the same time, he is as well or better known as the originator and proprietor of one of the country’s most celebrated and innovative private presses. At its founding, he chose the name The Perishable Press Limited because, as he explains, “It reflects the human condition, which is both perishable and limited.” But he also adds (with a devious wink) that he was looking for “another word beginning with the letter P to go with the word ‘press’.”
From the very onset, unlike so many inheritors of the Arts and Crafts tradition, Hamady has never simply "printed books" in the sense of reproducing text on a constipated printed page. Rather, he orchestrates all the parts of a book into full-fledged "works of art," ending up with such extraordinary concoctions that they fall outside the range of what we usually encounter. Each time he invents a new volume (typically in editions of about 100 copies), he prepares in the “kitchen,” cooks up and brings to the table a visual-tactile bouillabaisse of all the facets of book design and production, including inks, paper, color, typesetting, illustration, letterpress printing, binding, marbling and so on. It’s a soup that is also kinetic, by virtue of the turning page.













The Perishable Press Limited and Hamady’s farm are on one and the same geographical plot. Situated sixteen miles southwest of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, the Minor Confluence Tree Farm (his coinage for the land he owns) is a wild but deliberate natural collage. “All of life is a collage,” he has often said, and the farm is a peaceable kingdom he shares with Anna (his devoted second wife, who, in his words, is “an engine of compassion and kindness”) and an ever-changing citizenry of bluebirds, wild turkeys, great horned owls, badgers, deer, and hummingbirds. The printing of the books takes place in the house, where his Vandercook press fits snugly in the former parlor. The nearby studio in which he makes collages, box-like assemblages, and exquisite handmade papers (called Shadwell in honor of Thomas Jefferson’s birthplace) is sequestered in the nearby barn.
The Perishable Press Limited was founded in 1964 (the year I graduated from high school), when Hamady was 23. Under that banner, he has produced (by latest count) 131 limited edition books, thirteen of which were chosen (in the years in which they first came out) by the American Institute of Graphic Arts in New York as among the Fifty Best Books of the Year at its prestigious annual showing of the same name. Not surprisingly, his books are in the collections of the finest libraries, museums and art centers in the world, among them the British Museum, Harvard University, Newbery Library, Oxford University, Yale University, Cleveland Institute of Art, Getty Center, Grolier Club, Lenin Library, Library of Congress, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Royal Library in Stockholm, Sweden, Walker Art Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, and others.
Many of his books have been collaborations with well-known writers, in the sense that they feature the poetry, essays and fiction of some of the finest, most-admired authors of the Modern era, among them Paul Blackburn, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan (collectively known as the Black Mountain poets), Loren Eiseley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Bernard, Clarence Major, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, W.S. Merwin, Howard Nemerov, Toby Olson (with whom he’s made eleven books), Richard Wiley, Joel Oppenheimer, Reeve Lindbergh, Jonathan Williams, William Stafford, Bobby Byrd and Paul Auster.  Beyond that, they also include drawings, paintings and other provocative images by such extraordinary visual artists as John Wilde (Hamady’s friend, colleague and collaborator for many years), Henrik Drescher, David McLimans, Jim Lee, Peter Sis, Margaret Sunday, Lane Hall and Jack Beal.
OF HAMADY’S prolific efforts, none are more widely, consistently praised than a series of eccentric, irreverent books he calls the Gabberjabbs.* Often prickly, erratic and ridden with various pranks, they are sardonic pasquinades of pretentious highfalutin research. At the same time, they question their own sanctity, in the sense that, while epitomizing the virtues of letterpress printing and book design, they also poke fun at assumptions about the structure and function of books. The book, says Hamady, “is perhaps the most personal form an artist can deal with,” in the sense that it has to be handled individually by each reader, “who then becomes a participant.” It is the “Trojan horse of art,” he claims, because a book “is not feared by average people. It is a familiar form in the world, and average people will take it from you and examine it, whereas a painting, poem, sculpture or print they will not.”
As of 2011, there were eight published Gabberjabbs, and there are no plans of producing another (although, as I write this, he has just published another amazing, quasi-memoir called A Timeline of Sorts: Desultory Liftings from the Journals of WSH Hamady). The very first Gabberjabb [not shown on this website] was titled Interminable Gabberjabbs.His sixty-first letterpress book, it was published in 1973, the same year that he moved to the Tree Farm. Handset in Sabon-Antiqua and printed in six ink colors on his own handmade papers, it extols the goodness of rural living, and celebrates the Blue Mounds zone of the state of Wisconsin. The Blue Mounds, a “driftless” geologic region, was surrounded by the continental glacier but was never completely covered. In this first Gabberjabb, vintage geological maps are sewn into each copy.
As that book’s colophon predicts, it was "the first in a series of playful books that perhaps parody the structure and parts of the book." Partaking of what Walter calls "Hamady heresy," it puns on book nomenclature and lampoons the “proper” arrangement of parts, confessing that the notes section was supposed to have come after the appendix "but that page wasn't big enough." "We did not have an Appendix," he continues, "so we used an old Uterus instead."
Printed in an edition of 125, each copy of Interminable Gabberjabbs is press-numbered in a fitting but wholly unorthodox way—with a tattooing device for marking cows’ ears, a tool that Hamady borrowed one Christmas from a neighboring farmer named Ivan Staley. He then dedicated the book to Staley because (according to Hamady) it was Ivan "who got it started & who wryly said, after I showed him how you make paper with your hands: Ithbleev U'd rather milk Cows."









The second and third Gabberjabbs, both published in 1974, are also celebrations of farm life, nature, and the pleasures of growing and harvesting food. Titled Hunkering in Wisconsin and illustrated with Jack Beal’s drawing of a tomato, each copy of the second book is collage-numbered with livestock identification tags. 
In the third, the harvested crop is the grapeleaf, and its title, Thumbnailing the Hilex, refers to the process of pinching the leaf from its stem. On the title page, a Jack Beal drawing of a grapeleaf is placed within Hamady's parody of a state fair ribbon, described as the Wild Grapeleaf Picking Association Blue Mounds Township Grandprize.
The Interminable Gabberjabb Volume One (&) Number Four [not shown here], published in 1975, is about domesticity and paternity, and about Hamady’s immense satisfaction in cleaning windows with his first wife, Mary Laird Hamady, who was pregnant at the time with their first child, Laura (a Chicago lawyer now). Described by Hamady as having the strongest text of the early Gabberjabbs, it alludes to the fugitive nature of time ("clean glass makes possible views to the past") and the estrangement of creative minds, as described in a passage from Tales of a Traveller or Buckthorne by Washington Irving: "Somehow or other, our great geniuses are not gregarious; they do not go in flocks, but fly single in general society… It is only inferior orders that herd together, acquire strength and importance by their confederacies, and bear all the distinctive characteristics of their species."


















Among Hamady's most admired books is the fifth Gabberjabb. Published in 1981 and titled For The Hundredth Time/Gabberjabb Number Five, it is impeccably handset in Eric Gill’s typeface Gill Sans and A.M. Cassandre's exotic Art Deco typeface called Bifur. The title page is especially memorable, as are the footnotes, which are bound in a miniature booklet and housed in a library card pocket in the back. It is in this Gabberjabb, as the late literary scholar Mary Lydon said in a scholarly article on Hamady’s work, that his "potential for radically expanding the bookform begins fully to emerge."
The cover of each copy of the fifth Gabberjabb—there were 200 in the edition—is a one-of-a-kind collage of labels, airplane decals, snapshots, and tickets, while the interior pages are "fastened together or embossed or perforated or rubber-stamped or scored or sewn." While the book is intellectually complex, one critic described it, accurately albeit ironically, as "Hamady's best anti-intellectual effort to date." With the explicit theme of Mother's Day, it is both an appreciation of Hamady's own mother and a recognition of all that Mary his wife had endured in June 1978, when she gave birth to twins: a daughter, Samantha (called Sam), and a son, Micah (both of whom now live in California).
BETWEEN 1981 and 1988, there were no new Gabberjabbs. The Perishable Press Limited produced only 12 books during those years—slim when compared with its previous pace—while Hamady tried to adapt to a painful divorce, combined with what he labels as (in the sixth Gabberjabb) the "Disillusionment Disappointment & Disgust or the DDD of midlife crisis in k)academia or Professoring for twenty-two years and earning the $alary of an Entering Assistant Professor which, More or less, Points to several conc(de)lusions."








Judging from the title of this Gabberjabb, called Neopostmodrinism or Dieser Rasen ist kein Hundeklo or Gabberjabb Number 6, it may have been partly his way to respond to the onslaught of murky postmodernist fads that contaminated American universities in the 1980s, an academic parallel to the Red Guard in the People’s Republic of China. The title's foreign language is the text of a street sign that Hamady saw in a railway station in Germany, which translates roughly as "This grass is not a toilet for your dog." In addition, it is a deliberate reference to what Hamady calls his "art as shit" pronouncement, in which he contends that his letterpress concoctions are not merely about printing, but about "the arrangement of things in a given space; stretching and pushing expectations, limits and buttons; finding the extraordinary in the prosaic ordinary and baking bread out of shit but making it taste good."
Whether Hamady is literally baking bread—or making books, writing letters, making paper, teaching, raising children, building birdhouses, cleaning windows, or planting and harvesting things that he grows—everything he undertakes is about making art out of non-art, or, conversely, making non-art out of art, activities others have often described as making the familiar strange and making the strange familiar. This is an ever-present theme in Hamady's creative process—an approach described poetically by New York book aficionado Steven Clay as "recycling stuff by starlight."
HISTORICALLY, there is no shortage of alchemical art transformations like these. At the beginning of the 20th century, German advertising designer Lucian Bernhard “enshrined” store-bought products by surrounding them with sacred space in posters that acquired the name of Plakatstil, a technique that to some degree anticipated Marcel Duchamp's transformation (in 1917) of a urinal into a “readymade” work of art. In 1918, Dadaist Kurt Schwitters combined wire, rags, and other debris to create his first Merz pictures. A few years later, El Lissitzky deliberately made inappropriate use of dingbats and “printers' furniture” to illustrate Vladimir Mayakovsky's poetry in For the Voice. But there are many more examples: In 1929, Max Ernst recycled bits and pieces of images from trashy dime novels to create his own (non-verbal) collage novels; and, in the 1940s, Joseph Cornell made box-like visual haiku by the radical juxtaposition of junk.
Since the completion of the sixth Gabberjabb in 1989, Hamady has produced seventeen additional books, including two that could be called spin-offs of the Gabberjabbs. The first of these, produced in 1992 and titled 1985: The Twelve Months [not shown], was provoked by a stream of consciousness text that emerged from his responses to his own random rubber-stamp markings in a 1985 journal, bits of which had first appeared in the sixth Gabberjabb. Using that material as a point of departure, Hamady's friend and former university colleague John Wilde (pronounced WILL-dee) created twelve equally enigmatic paintings, one for each month. 

















John Wilde and Hamady collaborated again in 1995, in a book for both adults and children (“especially those of well-to-do graphic designers”) titled John’s Apples, which centered on twelve poems about apples by Reeve Lindbergh (the daughter of aviator Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh). By the time of Wilde’s death in 2006, he and Hamady had collaborated on nine books, among them Five Poems (1971), Going Home Again (1971), Poems for Self Therapy (1972), The Story of Jane and Joan (1977),  44 Wilde 1944 (1985), WHMSHW (What His Mother’s Son Hath Wrought) (1988), 1985: The Twelve Months (1992), John’s Apples (1995), and A Hamady Wilde Sampler/Salutations 1995 (2001).
 In 1996, in the course of much ruminating, Hamady came out with the seventh Gabberjabb, called Travelling, which he had been batting about for about five years. It teems with deliberate nonsense, with unabashed mischief and scatological humor. It exemplifies, as noted in its front matter, how "the best books design themselves in a strict sequence of aleatory annexation(s) via fortuitous encounters in incompatible realities." That statement is an allusion of course to Max Ernst’s definition of collage as “the exploitation of the chance meeting on a non-suitable plane of two mutually distant realities,” which was in turn derivative of Comte de Lautréamont’s famous equation of beauty with “the chance meeting upon a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.”









LOOKING BACK on Hamady’s books, the ones I most admire were made in the 1990s and after—and apparently the AIGA judges concurred, since, between 1999 and 2006, his books were awarded six medals as being among the Best Fifty Books of the year. The only year in which he did not publish a book was 2005 (and the only year he didn’t win), most likely for the reason that he was putting together the eighth Gabberjabb, titled Hunkering, the Last Gabberjabb. Profusely autobiographical (exhaustive and exhausting), that gargantuan compilation is surely a masterfully suitable end to “an unforeseen series,” both for its form and its content. 









To my mind, the clearest of Hamady's footprints (and in ways it is this that defines him) is his refusal to permit a thing—or a word or a thought or a tangible form—to remain simply as it is, as if he were haplessly driven to construct, destruct, reconstruct and deconstruct anything and everything: to reshape, reform and restructure to the point that it must be compulsive. Having mastered a skill or traditional craft (such as papermaking, typesetting, letterpress printing, or bookbinding), his immediate impulse is to outdistance that practice; to undermine his own expertise; and to purposely act in a way that is "wrong"—to arrive at an end that is even more "right." 
For example, in the book of poems and paintings called John's Apples (described earlier), the binding is purposely made to appear unfinished. In another book, titled Nullity (2000), an actual intact letter key from an old typewriter is bound in as part of the cover. In yet another recent book, called Depression Dog (2003), there are times when he hand-typesets a page from the text but deliberately fails to stabilize the metal type so that the letters are shifted and squeezed. I myself have been the target of his hijinks when, in the seventh Gabberjabb (Travelling), he deliberately shredded a copy of an early, now rare book of mine on Art and Camouflage (1981), then used the ground-up pulp to make a handmade page of paper in each copy of his book—imprinted with the word "camouflage"—so that my book is embedded in his. 










PERSONALLY, I was first drawn to Hamady's art (his collages, assemblages and handmade books) in the mid-1970s, and thereafter assumed that his genius aligned with an orbit that most people only observe from afar. In the early 1990s, when I initially sent him a note, it was with great hesitation, since, having concluded that he might be extraterrestrial—or snotty or standoffish—I did not expect to receive a reply. Not only did he answer immediately, he came back with such exuberance that he has never stopped writing (still not), sometimes flooding me with two or three letters in rapid succession, regardless of whether I answer or not. 
And just as he burlesques himself by adopting ridiculous nicknames (my favorite is Hamtoots), he delights in playing comparable tricks on my rural mailman by never addressing his letters to me, but instead to a grab bag of unknowns (all of whom apparently reside at my farm), such as Roy Ball Bearings, Corps du Roy, Rhoidamoto, Roy Blastoff Behrens, R Bobo, Roi d'Hoity Toit, Bobbing Links Golf Course Books, King Roi of the Bare Wrens Hens, and so on. On one occasion in particular, a heavily insured package arrived from The Perishable Press Limited containing a review copy of his latest book, but it could not be fully delivered until it was signed for by myself, the addressee, who was listed on the package as Bob O Bare Ends. Accustomed to Hamady's unmistakable handwriting and savvy to his postal pranks, my stalwart mailman did not flinch (although, tragically, he later died).











In all of Walter Hamady’s books, his command of color is a primary virtue, and yet it would be wrong to say that his books are "colorful" in a mere prosaic, textbook sense. He uses color in his books in a way that is skillfully nuanced, by which I mean that he applies the most whispered distinctions (it calls to mind the well-known phrase "just-noticeable differences"). In some cases, the contrasts are so understated, so slight as to only be noticed by those who see the most fundamental color attributes (hue, value saturation, and the effects of color contrast) at a level of studied discernment, equal to that of a wine taster. Only the sensitive eye will notice the adroit ingenious forms he creates by placing on a page, for example, the slightest warm off-white, against a textured cool off-white, against an ink that hints of green, and so forth.

Walter Hamady’s letterpress inventions are “about” limitless, complex layers of life—too entwined and emotionally buried to unearth in an essay of digging. As an alternative, anyone who is genuinely interested must move beyond just reading about his books or looking at them in photographs, but instead find a tactile immediate way of exploring them. There is no substitute for the delight of holding in ones hands an object as peculiar and unique as a book from The Perishable Press Limited. There is no way to simulate the marvelous textural tooth of the page, or the tattooed knolls and furrows of ink—and (most important) the pleasure of slowly and joyfully turning the page to the next welcome surprise.
•   •   •http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_hamadyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druzehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint,_Michiganhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keokuk,_Iowahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Wisconsin%E2%80%93Madisonhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Horeb,_Wisconsinhttp://vandercookpress.info/articles.htmlhttp://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/shadwellhttp://www.aiga.org/http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/about-50-50http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mountain_poetshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wildehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterpress_printinghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_designhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Irvinghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Gillhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolphe_Mouron_Cassandrehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucian_Bernhardhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plakatstilhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Readymades_of_Marcel_Duchamphttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_schwittershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Lissitzkyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingbathttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Mayakovskyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Ernsthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Cornellhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stream_of_consciousness_%28narrative_mode%29http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comte_de_Lautr%C3%A9amonthttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Camoupedia/DazzleCamouflage.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3shapeimage_1_link_4shapeimage_1_link_5shapeimage_1_link_6shapeimage_1_link_7shapeimage_1_link_8shapeimage_1_link_9shapeimage_1_link_10shapeimage_1_link_11shapeimage_1_link_12shapeimage_1_link_13shapeimage_1_link_14shapeimage_1_link_15shapeimage_1_link_16shapeimage_1_link_17shapeimage_1_link_18shapeimage_1_link_19shapeimage_1_link_20shapeimage_1_link_21shapeimage_1_link_22shapeimage_1_link_23shapeimage_1_link_24shapeimage_1_link_25shapeimage_1_link_26shapeimage_1_link_27shapeimage_1_link_28
The Gift
of Gabberjabbs
Walter Hamady
    and
The Perishable
Press Limited

by Roy R. Behrens

This essay appeared originally in a shorter, substantially different form as “The Gift of Gabberjabbs,” in Print magazine (New York), January-February 1997, pp. 64-71. The text and this website are © Roy R. Behrens. All works by Walter Hamady are © The Perishable Press Limited.
http://www.uni.edu/artdept/behrens.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0
Bobolink Books  |  Iowa Home Page  |  CAMOUPEDIA  |  How Ballast Began  |  How Form Functions  |  WPA http://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Index/Home.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Iowa/Home.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Camoupedia/DazzleCamouflage.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/BALLAST/HowBallastBegan.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/Gestalt/HowFormFunctions.htmlhttp://www.bobolinkbooks.com/BALLAST/WPA.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3shapeimage_3_link_4shapeimage_3_link_5
Robert Cozzolino
(Wisconsin Academy Review)
“No two [Hamady books] are alike. Max Roach once said a jazz musician is someone who never plays something the same way once. Hamady’s editions have that theme and variation—an improvisatory control so treasured in jazz or in Indian ragas.”
 
Above The inscrutable Walter Hamady c2005. Photo by Zane Williams. Right The title page of Perishable Press Book No 113 (1988-89), sixth in the series that Hamady calls the Gabberjabbs.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Hamadyshapeimage_5_link_0
Above In its February 2004 issue, the New York-based I.D. (International Design) Magazine chose the country’s top designers, one from each of the 50 states. Hamady was chosen for Wisconsin. Below The following year, he appeared on the cover of the Wisconsin Academy Review in connection with a large solo exhibition at the James Watrous Gallery in Madison.http://www.wisconsinacademy.org/galleries/index.php?category_id=3536&subcategory_id=4775#38512shapeimage_6_link_0
Above Cover of the booklet for Boxes and Collages, an exhibition of Hamady’s work at Granary Books in New York, in the fall of 1990. Right Detail of one of Hamady’s box-like assemblages, NS Box #17: nearly of the same logical order as dream & reflection (2002).http://www.granarybooks.com/shapeimage_7_link_0
Above On thirteen occasions since 1967, The Perishable Press Limited has received the country’s most coveted book design prize, the Fifty Best Books of the Year Award, given annually in New York by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).
The thirteen winning books include Spider Poems (1967), The Brown Wasps (1969), Guillem De Poitou, His Eleven Extant Poems (1976), Housemarks (1980), For the Hundredth Time Gabberjabb No Five (1981), Making a Sacher Torte (1981), 1985, The Twelve Months (1992), Whitman Sampler (1999), Nullity (2000), A Hamady Wilde Sampler / Salutations 1995 (2001), Depression Dog (2003), Reflections on a Cardboard Box (2004), and Hunkering, the Last Gabberjabb (2006).http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/5050-recentshapeimage_8_link_0
Above Portrait of the artist as a more youthful  bastard (age 23, c1963), one year before he started The Perishable Press Limited. Right Not unrelated, the so-called “bastard title page” from Gabberjabb No 6.
Above Cover of the exhibition catalog for Made in the Midwest: Walter Hamady’s 6451 Students (Racine WI: Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, 1993). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racine_Art_Museumshapeimage_10_link_0
Walter Hamady
(Boxes and Collages)
“At first I thought this box-making was new to me but I see it is only an extension of a basic theme discovered in boyhood, always building clubhouses, forts and restaurants. It is extremely pleasurable to arrange things in a given space and it matters not if it is planting trees and flowers; determining a menu; arranging the bookshelf; hanging pictures; placing words; applying paint; making marks; recycling cast off stuff.” Joseph Langland
“One is drawn to poetry not nearly so much because someone thinks he has something important to say as that he thinks he can say something well. And when something is well said, it is more important than the same idea less well said. All those who care for civilization know the truth 
of this.” Above Mask assemblage by Walter Hamady as reproduced on the cover of The North American Review (September-October 1995). Stephen Harvard
(Fine Print)
“[Walter Hamady’s books are] the authoritative work of a fine and generous spirit. It is the last attribute, a whole greater than the sum of its parts, that separates Perishable Press books from the herd of private imprints.” *How to spell Gabberjabb (also sometimes Gaggerblabb)? On at least one occasion, it has been denied its double b at the end. On the bastard title page of Gabberjabb No 6, it is spelled Gabberjab—if you can believe it. No doubt Hamady would delight in the possibility that some day this may be addressed at length in a doctoral dissertation. Joseph Blumenthal
(The Printed 
Book in America)
“[Hamady’s books are] nothing short of brilliant, especially in the sometimes witty and playful ephemera.” Steven Clay
(Recycling Stuff by Starlight) 
“This work has an impish sense of humor, a visceral freshness; hard to put your finger on, this work grows, is organic, moves like the weather and is given depth and color because it evolves out of the vicissitudes 
of a life.” Above Walter Hamady c1997, in his letterpress printing studio, working with his Vandercook press. Left  Page spread from the second Gabberjabb, Hunkering in Wisconsin (1974). Below  The title page of the third Gabberjabb, Thumbnailing the Hilex (1974), with Hamady’s imitation of a state fair ribbon. Mary Lydon
(The Book as the Trojan Horse of Art in Visible Language)
“Walter Hamady’s combination of iconoclasm/craft, art/daily life, and sophistication ground in physiology and earthiness set his work apart.” Lorraine Hansberry
The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably the thing that makes you lonely.
Above
A.M. Cassandre,
Bifur typeface (1930).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolphe_Mouron_Cassandreshapeimage_22_link_0
Walter Hamady
(Two Decades of Hamady & The Perishable Press Limited)
“This was one of the funnest books to make & is a favorite.” Left Title spread of Gabberjabb No. Five and (below that) the special footnote booklet housed in a library card pocket on the inside back cover.
Above Catalog cover for exhibition titled Walter Hamady: Handmade Books, Collages and Sculptures at the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wisconsin, 1991. Designed by Planet Design Company (now Planet Propaganda), with a Hamady collage on the cover.http://www.ramart.org/ram/About-RAM/http://www.planetpropaganda.com/believe/shapeimage_25_link_0shapeimage_25_link_1
Mary Lydon
(The Book as the Trojan Horse of Art in Visible Language)
“[Walter Hamady sees the book] as a reflective vehicle in its ability to break and intersect narrative lines, play with syntax, integrate found materials, and convey enigma, paradox and information all at once.” Timothy Barrett
(Fine Print)
“It is no surprise to 
me that Hamady, through his students, has inspired much of the best work done by new small presses 
in America.” Above left The wonderfully rich front cover of the sixth Gabberjabb, Neopostmodrinism (1988-89), made from 19th-century marbled tax assessment books retrieved from a Madison dumpster. The equally rich title page is above. Robert Cozzolino
(“A Walter Hamady Primer” in Wisconsin Academy Review)
“For Hamady and the most sensitive of readers, the book is not merely a container for words but a kinetic sculpture.” Above Cover of the exhibition catalog (designed by Patrick JB Flynn) for Juxtamorphing Space: Works by Walter Samuel Haatoum Hamady Being a Series of Autodidactic Tutorials Arranging Certain Things in a Certain Space with a Certain Aesthetic End in Mind as in a Timeline of Sorts Incorporating Books, Collage and Assemblage on Display at the James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy, 7 October through November 20, 2005. Above With the completion of each new book, Hamady sends out a hand-printed announcement of its availability. This is the one for John’s Apples. Above Title page (top left) and other page spreads from John’s Apples, Perishable Press Book No. 125 (1995). Far left With each book, Hamady makes extensive proofs in the process of constructing it. Shown here for example are two different covers for Travelling, Gabberjabb No. 7 (1996). The one stamped SAMPLE ONLY is a preliminary proof. Left Because he uses not just letterpress printing, but rubber stamps, photographs, punches, grommets, even wax seals and fingerprints (as in this spread from Travelling), no two copies of any of the Gabberjabbs are identical. Robert Cozzolino
(A Walter Hamady Primer in Wisconsin Academy Review)
“To be understood, Perishable Press editions must be held in the hands, touched, their pages turned, the whole form experienced and the body gaining from interaction.” Above Cover of Reflections on a Cardboard Box, with text by Paul Auster and drawings by Henrik Drescher (2004). Above center Other Drescher drawings are in Depression Dog (2003), along with illustrations by Jim Lee, Peter Sis and David McLimans. The text is by Toby Olson, in his eleventh collaboration with The Perishable Press Limited. Left Page spread from the final volume in the Gabberjabb series, titled Hunkering: Aleatory Annexations. Odd Bondings. Fortuitous Encounters with Incompatible Realities. Love Anguish Wonder: An Engagement. A Partial Time / Line of Sorts. Bait + Switch. A Pedagogical Remembrance (2005). The photo is of Hamady (c1956) with his Aunt Jenny at his home in Flint MI. He is holding a Count Basie LP album—which he still has. Above Letterpress-printed announcement for Hunkering, Gabberjabb No. 8. Above Cover of Nullity (2000), with a text by Kenneth Bernard. Note the protruding actual typewriter key, one of which has been bound into each copy of  the book, in an edition of 100. Walter Hamady
(Recalling a 
boyhood experience in an entry in his journal from 1964 in A Timeline of Sorts)
“This was when all pistachio nuts came from Persia and were highly treasured. My memory is shucking the shells nut by nut until the meats filled an entire soup bowl. The, having abstained from any tasting, would eat them like ordinary peanuts by the handful. Somehow there is a core lesson in that, having to do with patience and integrity of labor which has served me all my life in the making of my art, my world, my children.” Walter Hamady
(Preface of
A Timeline of Sorts)
“For me a journal is simply keeping a record of observations made in the quotidian world of day-to-day. Besides having someone to talk to, the attractiveness of writing each morning about the previous day is not only mind-clearing but mind-emptying as well.” Above Interior title page for Hunkering, drawn by Henrik Drescher. click here
for a guide to our websites COOK BOOK: Gertrude Stein, William Cook and Le Corbusier (2005) FALSE COLORS: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage (2002) CAMOUPEDIA: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage (2009) shipping
now
Left Walter Hamady in his studio (c1971), as photographed by George Phillips. For more on Hamady and The Perishable Press Limited, click here.http://www.bobolinkbooks.com/BALLAST/WSH.htmlshapeimage_48_link_0
Mark Van Doren
(remembering his father in The Autobiography of Mark Van Doren)
“He loved to call things by the wrong names—or, it may be, the right ones, fantastically the right ones. Either extreme is poetry, of which he had the secret without knowing that he did. It was natural for him to name two lively rams on the place Belshassar and Nebuchadnezzar…Frank became Fritz Augustus—just why, I never inquired—and I was either Marcus Aurelius or Marco Bozzaris. Guy was Guy Bob, and Carl was Carlo. And Paul, when it came time for him to share in the illicit luxuriance, was no other than Wallace P. Poggin—again, I have no faint idea why. My father never analyzed his spoonerisms, or even admitted that they had fallen from his mouth. He would cough, and appear to apologize by saying: ‘I have a little throakling in my tit.’” PLEASE NOTE: This essay and website are © Roy R. Behrens. All works by Walter Hamady are © The Perishable Press Limited.
Bibliography
Gallery 210, Two Decades of Hamady and the Perishable Press Limited (exhibition checklist). St. Louis, MO: University of Missouri, 1984.
S. Clay, “Recycling Stuff by Starlight” in Boxes and Collages: Walter Hamady (exhibition catalog). NY: Granary Books, 1990.
M. Lydon: “The Trojan Horse of Art: Walter Hamady, The Perishable Press Limited and Gabberjabbs 1-6" in Visible Language (Providence, RI), Vol 25 Nos 2-3 (Spring 1991), pp. 150-172.
T. Olson, et al, various essays in Walter Samuel Haatoum Hamady (exhibition catalog). Racine, WI: Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, 1991.
B.W. Pepich, et al, various essays in 6451: Made in the Midwest: Walter Hamady’s 6451 Students (exhibition catalog). Racine, WI: Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, 1993.
R. R. Behrens, "The Gift of Gabberjabbs" in Print (New York, NY), Vol 51 No 1 (January/February 1997), pp. 64-71 [expanded online version 2011].
R. Cozzolino, “Hidden Treasure” in Isthmus (Madison WI) (May 2, 2003).
P. Ullrich, “Problems…Solutions” in American Craft (June-July 2003).
J. Habich, “By the Book” in I.D.: The International Design Magazine (January/February 2004), p. 98.
R. R. Behrens, “What Walter Hedgehog Hamady Knows” in Juxtamorphing Space: Works by Walter S.H. Hamady (exhibition catalog), 2005 [online version].
R. Cozzolino, “A Walter Hamady Primer” in Wisconsin Academy Review (Madison, WI), (Fall 2005), pp. 27-36.
R. Cozzolino, “Walter’s Confluence” in Walter Hamady: Search Engine (exhibition catalog), Chicago: Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery, 2011, pp. 2-5.WSH.htmlhttp://www.corbettvsdempsey.com/publications.htmlshapeimage_51_link_0shapeimage_51_link_1shapeimage_51_link_2
Click here for a complete list of all Perishable Press Ltd books