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U’s Red Butte Press releases unique fine arts book

Marriott Library Press publishes a handmade book with writing from Terry Tempest Williams and artwork by Gaylord Schanilec.

The Book Arts Program at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will release “Oracle Bones,” a fine press publication, on Sunday, March 3 from 1-3 p.m. in the Marriott Library. The public is invited to attend a reading by Terry Tempest Williams and a panel discussion with the creative team, including Gaylord Schanilec, fine printer and wood engraver.

“Oracle Bones” is a fine press artists’ book published by the Red Butte Press, part of the Book Arts Program at the Marriott Library. The book contains text by  Williams and prints from woodblocks by Schanilec, both produced for this edition and not previously published elsewhere. Only during the event will copies of the book will be available at a special release event rate.

In the fall of 2015, Schanilec and Williams ventured into southern Utah’s desert and returned to the studio with juniper and sandstone artifacts from the author’s land. Schanilec built and proofed printing blocks from the found elements.

Williams’ text is an urgent meditation on the vulnerability and power of the land. The images in “Oracle Bones” function both as archival records and as metaphors for landscape. A sequence of opaque and transparent pages suggests the desert horizon and the transformation of land over time. The color palette evokes the purples of distance and twilight, and the reds of earth and rock. Both conceptually and visually, the text responds to the shapes and forms. The book’s landscape format and generous white space contribute to a feeling of open land and sky.

About the Fine Press Publication “Oracle Bones”

In the summer of 2019, the Red Butte Press team made cover paper from cotton, abaca and locally sourced yucca. Sage leaves were added to the sheets used for the paper spines, which were then dyed with prickly pear and Ephedra (Mormon Tea). Wood and stone blocks were printed on a Vandercook SP20 on Goyu. Text—handset in Bell cast at the Bixler Type Foundry—was printed on a Columbian handpress on Magnani Pescia. Single sheets were hinged and then sewn with a pamphlet stitch through a folded spine piece with attached covers. Red Butte Press contributors were Crane Giamo, lead printer and papermaker; Marnie Powers-Torrey, master printer and production manager; Amy Thompson, designer; and Emily Tipps, lead binder and papermaker. Imogen Atwood, Ruby Barrett, Erika Bishop, Annie Boyer, Jazmin Gallegos, Annie Hillam, Sara Luz Jensen and Jonathan Sandberg provided studio assistance at various stages of production.

“Oracle Bones” is 12 x 10” x ¼”. The edition size is 146 with 20 deluxe, 100 standard, and 26 hors commerce copies. A clamshell box houses each deluxe copy along with a vial of red sand collected by Williams from the land on which she resides. Each is signed by both the writer and artist.

The deluxe is priced at $650 and the standard at $350. To place an order, visit Red Butte Press. Inquiries can be sent to Please contact us for international orders.

Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams is a current writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of numerous books, including the environmental literature classic, “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.” Her most recent books are “Erosion — Essays of Undoing and The Moon Is Behind Us” with Fazal Shaikh. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Orion Magazine and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. She is a recipient of Guggenheim and Lannan Literary Fellowships as well as a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.

Gaylord Schanilec

Gaylord Schanilec received a B.S. from the University of North Dakota in 1977. Noted for his color wood engravings, he established his press, Midnight Paper Sales, in 1980. He has published more than twenty-five books under this imprint and has accepted numerous commissions, including work for the Greynog Press in Wales and the Grolier Club of New York. Schanilec is the recipient of numerous awards for his books including the Carl Hertzog Award for excellence in book design and the Greynog Prize. He recently received a McKnight Fellowship in Printmaking, is an Honorary Member of the Double Crown Club, and is an active member of both the Ampersand Club and Fine Press Book Association. His work is represented in most major book arts collections in the United States and the United Kingdom, and the archive of his working materials is held at the University of Minnesota.

About the Book Arts Program and Red Butte Press

Established in 1984 when premiere Bay Area printers, Lewis and Dorothy Allen offered an 1846 Columbian hand press to the J. Willard Marriott Library, Red Butte Press honors and extends the traditions of fine press printing, producing finely crafted, limited editions. The press is committed to contemporary dialogue, publishing essays focused on the Western states as well as the best in modern fiction and poetry. Red Butte Press commissions original artwork, uses quality paper and binding materials and prints letterpress to make each book a reflection of its contents. The press prioritizes in-house production, opportunities for student participation, innovative graphic and structural design and meaningful collaboration with local and regional artists, authors and academics.