Artist's Books

Arbitrary Wishbone and Thrill Passengers


Arbitrary Wishbone and Thrill Passengers are part of a larger interdisciplinary project that combines creative writing, letterpress and digital printing, hand bookbinding, blogging, and video. As primarily a writing experiment, this project works to discover how the use of specific yet disparate technologies can impact a text.  The books correspond with the two technologies the artist limited herself to work with as she simultaneously wrote and typeset. Arbitrary Wishbone is handset and letterpress printed using historic metal and wood printing type. Conversely, Thrill Passengers uses contemporary digital fonts, desktop publishing software, and inkjet printing. 

Typographically, both books are historical references to traditional nineteenth century type specimen books—commercial catalogs produced by type foundries to display and advertise their typefaces. The language used in these specimen books was spontaneously handset by type compositors—weaving together news, literary quotations, slang, stream-of-consciousness, and poetry to unknowingly create linguistic cultural portraits. Similarly, Arbitrary Wishbone and Thrill Passengers read as cultural portraits by documenting ambient language pulled from conversations, advertisements, radio, social media, and television. The books celebrate and investigate contemporary, non-linear reading practices developing in the face of digital media.


10.25 x 11.75 in

Arbitrary Wishbone is letterpress printed; the type specimen pages are handset in metal and wood type. Everything else is set in Haymaker, Franklin Gothic and Adobe Garamond Pro and is printed from photopolymer plates. Thrill Passengers is inkjet printed; the type specimen pages are digitally set using free fonts designed in 2012. Covers for both books were offset printed on a Heidelberg GTO. The paper is Mohawk Superfine. Written, designed, printed, and bound by the author at Columbia College Chicago’s Center for Book and Paper Arts from the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2013. Books are sold together in pairs, housed in an archival clamshell box with a letterpress printed label.

Edition of 30


In addition to the books, every page of Thrill Passengers can be viewed at The following split screen video shows the methods of composition for each book. The left side displays a screen shot while Sammons digitally sets type and combs the internet for language, and the other half shows her setting type by hand in the print studio. This video accompanied the books during Sammons’ MFA thesis exhibition.



This project is partially supported by a grant from the Albert P. Weisman Award, a private trust affiliated with Columbia College Chicago.