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Getting The Saint John's Bible To Your Bookshelf

In July of 2009, Tim Ternes (Director of The Saint John's Bible) and Linda Orzechowski, (Administrative Assistant for HMML) flew to London and then took the train to Wales. They eventually ended their journey at the Scriptorium, Donald Jackson’s residence and studio, where The Saint John's Bible has been in creation for the past ten years. The goal of their journey was to accept the first 200 pages of Historical Books—the sixth of the seven volumes of The Saint John's Bible. The remaining 80 pages are nearly completed and are scheduled for delivery in mid-March.

So, what happens when the pages arrive in Minnesota? The first step in the process is actually taking a break. As you can imagine, working with the original pages demands careful attention to curatorial standards. When the original pages return from Wales, they must be allowed to adjust to the change in climate and humidity by spending a few days in a secured and climate controlled storage vault on campus.

A new illumination from Historical Books. Saul's Anthology by Donald Jackson. One of the many illuminations that need careful color checking and proofing before it is published.

After a few days of adjustment, the pages are officially presented to the CIT (Committee of Illumination and Text). After which, Wayne Torborg, Director of Digital Collections at HMML, will capture each page of Historical Books on film. Some of the illuminations require Wayne to shoot several pictures at different angles in order to capture the play of light on the gold or the depth of the shadows. In the past, this process has taken anywhere from six weeks to two months, however, due to advances in technology, Wayne has been able to trim this timeline down considerably.

The labor intensive part of the process begins once the files are sent to Colormax, a local digital imaging company based in a Paynesville, Minnesota—a small town about thirty minutes from Saint John's. Colormax has been working on The Saint John's Bible from the beginning, doing color work and printing the fine art prints, amongst many other tasks. Upon receipt of the files, the staff at Colormax begin the touch-up process by removing dust specks and other aberrations that may have been captured in the photographing process. After initial touch-ups and formatting, a proof of each page is printed. Over the span of several months, the proofs are compared to the original pages and marked with changes. The most important element is ensuring the quality of color. Wayne continues his role in the development by overseeing the color checking and approval by marking the proofs with suggestions and directions before they are sent back to Colormax to tweak and reprint. Some difficult illuminations can take four or more passes under his critical eye, before he is satisfied.

While Wayne checks the color, Bible staff checks the proofs for missing letter serifs and any other aberrations that need to be corrected. The first 200 pages just finished this process in early February. The process is taking a little bit longer than expected for this volume because the remaining Historical Books pages will not arrive at Saint John's until March. Once the remaining pages have arrived it should take no more than two weeks to proof and approve and begin prepping the files for the printer.

It is hopeful that all of this work can be completed by early May in order to send the files out for printing. Once our printer gets the files, initial proofs will be created for another round of viewing and marking hopefully in late May. It is important to have staff on-hand to make corrections as necessary and to make sure that the trade editions represent the original as faithfully as possible .

If all goes well, the books will be printed, bound, packed and shipped by July allowing the Liturgical Press to to start fulfilling orders by the late summer.

As you can see, it’s quite a process and even more so when you think that all of it really started ten years ago when Donald penned the first words of The Saint John's Bible… “In the beginning was the word…”

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In This Issue

• Getting The Saint John's Bible
  To Your Bookshelf

• Upcoming Exhibitions & Events

See the Bible


Milwaukee Public Museum Milwaukee, WI
January 22 - June 2010

Science Museum of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN
March 12 - October 24, 2010

Print Exhibitions

Blacksburg Presbyterian Church
January 9 - February 21, 2010
Blacksburg, VA

Regis College
Weston, MA
March 11 - May 16, 2010

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Contact:The Saint John's Bible, Liturgical Press, Saint John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321
Phone: 1.800.654.0476 or 320.363.2213

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