Ampersand Duck is a strange nebulous creature. Ostensibly it is a private press, but it is also an umbrella name for an artist who likes to play with books in many ways, from wayward bibliographical musings to altering found and newly-printed pages.
Holding the handle of the umbrella is myself, Caren Florance,* but Ampersand Duck also likes to be held over collaborations of varying natures.
I have a wonderful home-based studio that holds a Vandercook SP-20 letterpress, seven cabinets of metal and wood type, a book guillotine and a couple of nipping presses (along with lots of books, both for reading and for creative fodder, plus a big cushy armchair to facilitate the former).
I work mostly with letterpress (wood and metal type) and relief printing methods (including photopolymer plate) in my press work. As well, I work with a variety of materials to produce artist’s books. To earn a living, I teach book arts at the ANU School of Art, and I run workshops for organisations and community groups. I also do a bit of simple design work, mostly catalogues, invitations and scholarly journals, to pay the bills.
I tend not to work with unsolicited manuscripts. In my experience, collaborations are best when people know each other or have at least met. I do love working with poetry, but usually only the poetry I hear in readings or stumble upon during bouts of poetic archaeology. So please, unless you like polite rejection or embarrassed silence, don’t send your work to me.
One thing that I would like to do more is artistic jobbing work: printing title pages and colophon pages using letterpress for things like print folios and artists’ books. If you are interested in this sort of production for your project, please get in touch for a quote.
I live in Canberra with my partner and son and two huge cats. If you want to know more about that, see my personal blog. It covers pretty much everything.
Ampersand Duck is in the following collections (in no particular order):
National Gallery of Australia
National Library of Australia
State Library of Queensland
State Library of Victoria
Monash University Rare Books Collection
Melbourne University Rare Books Collection
University of Queensland Library
University of Sydney Library
University of WA Library
ACT Heritage Library
Canberra Museum and Galleries
Australian Scholarly Editions Centre
Petr Herel Collection, ANU
UNESCO Noma Concours, Japan
University of Otago Library, NZ
* about Caren Florance
My formal credentials are: I have a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and English (ANU, 1989), a Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours (ANU, 2002) and a Masters of Arts in English (UNSW@ADFA, 1992). I’ve worked for many years as a freelance desktop publisher and designer, and have a real and compulsive love of books and text. I’m not a professional bookbinder, but I have enough knowledge gleaned from non-accredited courses to do the things I like to do reasonably well (IMHO). I can’t decide if I’m a fine press printer or an artist who works with books, and can’t see why I have to choose. I flirt with the idea of writing something, could be anything from speculative fiction to a romance novel to the Great Australian novel, but I doubt I’ve got the stamina or the talent. So I just read, and I think about my work from the viewpoint of a reader. If you’d like to know anything else about me, get in touch. Oh, and you pronounce my first name with a long A, like Car. Blame my parents.