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fernwerks press ~ Minnesota
(Wendy Fernstrum)

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fernwerks: "fernwerks is a werkspace where Wendy Fernstrum paints, prints and makes artist books. fernwerks is based in a studio in the quaint village of Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota."
Miniature Plus Size  
one is the holiest number (#2)
By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks press, 2015. Edition of 25.

10 x 10"; 32 pages. Linoleum relief, intaglio, and letterpress. Printed on Rives BFK paper. Bound in paper-covered boards with cloth spine. Title label inset on front board. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Wendy Fernstrum: "For this book, I received the 2016 Minnesota Book Artist Award. I've been working with the theme of 'One' for almost 3 years - one as an individual, and one united with all. Sometimes we feel we're all alone, completely isolated. At the other end of the spectrum, we feel like we're one with everything and everyone. I'm interested in how that shift can happen in an instant. In this book, I use images and words to convey the two states and the shift from one to the other. For example, the world 'ALONE' becomes 'ALL ONE' with the lift of the page.

Colophon: "Up to five layers of ink cover each page. … Two layers of relief printing from linoleum rest beneath two layers of intaglio from plexiglass, bringing into sight an immense net or web that connects us yet otherwise remains unseen. … [This book] is dedicated to those who have lost a love one. Which pretty much includes all of us."

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From Right to Left
By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks, 2012. Edition of 25.

8.25 x 8.25"; 20 pages. Background and photographic images screenprinted. Line art and text letterpress printed using photopolymer plates and wood type during a residency at Women's Studio Workshop. Drumleaf binding. Paper-covered boards. Inset paper title label on front board. Signed, numbered, and dated by the artist on the colophon.

3 x 3"; 8 pages. Miniature book "Balance: Evenness Is Harmony" bound into larger book. In wraps with title printed on front cover.

Wendy Fernstrum: "From Right to Left is an artist book about the effects of changing one's dominant hand. Through the personal narrative, I tell the story of why and how I switched from my right to my left as my dominant hand. I wrote this narrative using both my right and left hands, then scanned the handwriting, made photopolymer plates, and printed it letterpress.

"Other text in the book describes the use of the right and left hands in our culture and explains the effects in the brain of changing dominant hands.[On pages 9 and 10] I drew the two neurons using my left hand, then scanned the drawings, made plates, and printed them letterpress. The background neuron was drawn dot by dot and screenprinted.

"This is the first artist book where I combined both screenprinting and letterpress printing. ... [Pages 13 and 14] shows a book within a book. The small book was letterpress printed using text excerpted from Light on Life, a book about yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar. The text explains the need for balance between the right and the left sides of the body. The small book is sewn into the drumleaf binding used for the larger book."


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Everything I've Been Waiting For
By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks press, 2010. Edition of 100.

6 x 8.75 x .5"; 47 leaves. Letterpress printed. Coil bound. Black paper cover with title tipped in.

Wendy Fernstrum: "Everything I've Been Waiting For is a collection of drawings I've made while waiting. The drawings are moments in time – sometimes very long moments, when waiting is difficult. In my drawings I'm less concerned with trying to exactly replicate a particular object, and more interested in capturing the feeling of waiting.

"The 44 ink drawings and handwritten text were scanned and converted to negatives, which I used to make photopolymer plates to print letterpress on the Vandercook #4 and #219 at Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Printing the drawings with the letterpress allowed me to create the illusion that each bound book contains original ink drawings. The pages are wire-bound to look like a sketchbook.

"In my drawings I try to capture not the exact likeness of the thing I'm waiting for, but rather the way it feels to be waiting for something in particular. I've discovered, in the process of making this book, that I do a lot of waiting.

"What are you waiting for?"

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By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks press, 2009. Edition of 25.

10 x 6.75 x 3.75" cloth-covered modified clamshell box. Paper title inset on top. Box houses two books: FREE and CLUTTER. FREE: 9 x 6", 21 leaves; letterpress printed; cloth-covered boards with metal screw binding. CLUTTER: 9.25 x 6 x 2" drawer with knob pull, 16 numbered items; other miscellaneous items.

Colophon: "CLUTTER/FREE is a modified dos-a-dos (two books in one) written, designed, printed and bound by Wendy Fernstrum of Fernwerks.

"FREE was printed on a Vandercook #4 at Minnesota Center for Book Arts using an incomplete set of wood type and photopolymer plates. The H, W, and numerals were missing from the beginning, and halfway through the printing the L and Y disappeared too. Hand-drawn letters filled their absence. Words were also formed from gravestone rubbings that were scanned and converted digitally to make photopolymer plates.

"CLUTTER's narrative can be found among the objects contained within the drawer. The narrative unfolds sequentially, starting with #1 and ending with #16. A variety of printing methods were used: letterpress, screen, laser and inkjet."

Wendy Fernstrum: "Every clutter item is identical across the edition, although the color of a few items may change: the candle, color pencil. The playing card may not always be a joker.

"There's a microcassette tape in the drawer, with a recording of Krapp's Last Tape by Samuel Beckett. If you're not familiar with this one-man play, it's about Krapp, who makes a recording on each of his birthdays and replays them. In the play he's making his last tape and contemplating his life. I thought it fit well with the theme of Clutter/Free and I wanted there to be a recording should anyone take the effort to play the microcassette. KLP written on the cassette stands for Krapp's Last Tape."

A reflection on clutter, its collection and recollection. Does it define us? Affix us? Burden us? Free us?

The more I collect, the less I recollect.

The less I recollect, the more I collect.


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Pathology of Promises Broken
By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks press, 2009. Edition of 25.

6.5 x 8.5"; 20 pages. Letterpress printed on Rives Johannot paper. Text and digital images printed using polymer plates. Layered circular patterns on sewn inserts were created as monoprints. Oil-based media and solvent, provide the cell-like imagery. Drum leaf binding. Glued onto book boards covered in Japanese paper. Front cover illustration letterpress-printed with a letter disc sewn onto it.

Wendy Fernstrum: "This book – a sequel to Promises Kept [fernwerks press, 2005] – further explores the question, 'What happens to a promise when it's broken?' As you can see from images of the book, I'm still obsessed with circles. The circular theme in Pathology of Promises Broken explores the tension between our desire for integrity and our failure to uphold it.

"The book also incorporates monoprints of layered circles resembling cell structures and implying a microscopic view of a broken promise. With Pathology of Promises Broken I wanted to go deeper in my exploration of broken promises, and one way I achieve this is through a pseudoscientific perspective.

"Discs, sometimes with a single letter on it, appear among the pages in three ways. Strings of discs are letterpress printed in layers using photopolymer plates made from digitized photographs. Individual discs are also letterpress printed on top of and around text. In addition, I've sewn discs onto the page, leaving loose ends of string. One could interpret these strings literally, as being 'at loose ends' as the result of a broken promise, or metaphorically. The sewn discs also hint at attempts to heal brokenness."

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another poem by Rumi
Book design by Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, MN: 2006. Edition of 60.

3 x 3"; 16 pages including pastedowns. Letterpress printed by Fernstrum at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts during the last days 2006 on a Vandercook 219 using photopolymer plates.

A miniature book from Wendy Fernstrum using the poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), master of the Sufi tradition, a mystical branch of Islam.

     The breeze at dawn has something to tell you.
                DON'T GO BACK TO SLEEP.
     You must ask for what you really want.
                DON'T GO BACK TO SLEEP.
     People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the      two worlds touch.
     The door is round and open.
                DON'T GO BACK TO SLEEP.


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By Wendy Fernstrum
fernwerks Press/ MCBA, 2004. Edition of 50.

3 x 3" miniature, paper covered boards with cloth spine. The waves were printed on BFK Rives from linoleum blocks. One block created the positive pattern, and the second block created the negative pattern, both using shades of blue. After cutting the blocks, Wendy Fernstrum hand-set the letter “o”, bullet points and decorative circles from a variety of metal and wood type from the drawers at Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Eyeballing the pattern cut into the blocks, Fernstrum assembled one form on the press bed, where the “o” shapes approximated the same flow as the waves. She printed a single sheet and cut the sheet into eight strips to bind using a drum-leaf structure with board covers. Handset and printed by Wendy Fernstrum while artist in residence at Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

“Synchronicity” celebrates the days when everything magically falls into place without effort. The kind of day where time feels like a friend, in that it gives you the space to do exactly what you want to do, all day long.

Where the O’s in “Synchronicity” match up with the wavy flow, it’s like a moment of pure awareness in meditation, a kiss from someone you adore, the click at the moment of solving a puzzle. You can’t plan for it to happen. When it does, there is no mistaking the feeling that everything is exactly as it should be.

This small 3” x 3” book is about trusting inspiration to guide the hand, the eye and the mind in the right direction. It’s also about the courage to align principles with actions.

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Household Objects:
A Mix 'n' Match Project for both sides of the brain

By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks press, 2002. Edition of 500.

Fourteen individual "flash cards" printed on both sides. Text composed in Courier. Drawings and poems by Fernstrum.

Standard edition packaged in 8.25 x 6.25" Ziploc baggie. Deluxe edition housed in 7" square Tupperware container with orange household rubber gloves.

Wendy Fernstrum: "Fourteen cards for the left brain: Prose poems that describe the character of the household objects I’ve drawn. I set neither the objects nor the drawings in front of me while I wrote. Instead, I thought about my relationship with the object and considered what the object represents in the household, beyond its utilitarian purpose. Each blind contour drawing (numbered 1 through 14) corresponds with a prose poem (labeled A through N). Use both sides of your brain to match them and identify common household objects."


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You don’t fool me. I see the way you eye wrinkles on my skin,
making plans even as you huff
and puff your dragon’s breath
on splayed out creases
and folds. Hotheaded, jealous,
you redirect your unrelenting venting when my attention wanders, searing allegiance into me with an angry version of a hickey. Have I never come back for more? Drawn by your heat, I marvel at your sensitivity to different materials: bossy with cotton, sly with silk. You always get your way.

Standard edition $25
Deluxe edition $40


A little more than a miniature: Miniatures are defined as to be no more than 3" x 3". The books in this section are just a tad larger but still modest in size.

a poem by Hafiz
about love

By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks press, 2015. Edition of 100.

3.25 x 3.25"; 14 pages. Letterpress printed. Paper-covered boards with title label inset on front board. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Hafiz, a Persian poet (c. 1320 – 1389), known for his lyrical poems. A very simple poem about love with no expectations.

Even after all this time,
the sun never says to the earth,
"You owe me."
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights the whole sky.


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A Poem
By Maria Rilke Rainer
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Minnesota Center for Book Arts, 2011. Edition of 51 ("Rilke's age when we wandered from this earthly realm").

3 x 3.25"; 34 pages. Letterpress printed using photopolymer plates. Drumleaf binding. Paper-covered boards with title label inset on front board.

This poem is from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. This apparently freehand rendition (printed with photopolymer plates) incorporates text, image, and graphic design to lead us whimsically through a serious minefield of thought:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us
Then walks with us silently out of the night.…
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me….


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O Drop
By Mevlana Jaluddin Rumi
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks press, 2005. Edition of 80.

2.75 x 3.75" letterpress printed by Wendy Fernstrum while artist-in-residence at Minnesota Center for Book Arts on a Vandercook 219, using photopolymer plates. Typeface is Caslon adapted for use with photopolymer plates. Inside pages are BFK Rives (white). Outside paper is Hazuki Unruyu along the spine and Wave paper on the covers.

A fine press edition of a poem by mystic poet Mevlana Jaluddin Rumi (affectionately known as "Rumi" in the West). "O Drop" appears in Rumi's Mathnawai, a mystical epic in six volumes.



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fernwerks Press Out of Print titles:
• Promises Kept 2005

Homage to Trees
By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, MN: fernwerks press, 1997. Edition of 50.

Comprised of five letterpress books, each 3 x 4.125" housed on or within a box measuring 10 x 13.5". The text pages of each book were printed on a sheet of Zerkall Nideggan paper which was then cut into two strips, folded into an accordion booklet, and the one end of each glued together. The ends of this booklet are then slipped into a non-adhesive cover comprised of two boards and five sheets of paper. The type was set in 11 pt. and 14 pt. Bembo, 12 pt. Narrow Bembo Condensed Italic, with ornaments along the top of each page. Type composition by Michael Bixler. Printed on a Vandercook #219 Press at Minnesota Center for Book Arts .

Wendy Fernstrum: "Homage to Trees is an artist book revealing unusual relationships between humans and trees. Trees are sacred. They are more than just resources for physical comfort or aesthetic beauty. In this series of books I describe rituals and traditions in which people approach trees for metaphysical gifts such as wisdom, transformation, health, and fertility….

"Each book references many examples of specific relationships between humans and trees. In the first book, the reader learns about the healing properties of trees. In the second book, the reader finds information about trees as cosmological symbols and links between metaphysical planes in many different religions. The third book describes cultures which revered trees in
fertility rites. The fourth book talks about cultures which regarded trees as sources of wisdom. And in the fifth book, the reader learns how trees reveal the secrets of transformation.

"'Homage to Trees' encourages readers to explore a holistic and rewarding relationship with trees….As an artist who relies greatly upon paper to translate concepts into form, I am well aware of the fact that we cannot live without consuming resources. We can, however, learn to use our resources wisely. Part of that knowledge is based on cultivating a respectful relationship with nature and, specifically, with trees. This project is my homage to trees, thanking them for all they provide both physically and spiritually, and my vehicle for sharing what I have begun to learn by listening to trees."

Added note from Fernstrum: "Special thanks to Nathaniel Altman, whose book 'Sacred Trees' was an invaluable source of information and inspiration."






Literary Essences
By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: fernwerks press, 2000. Edition of 25.

11.5 x 9.5 x 1.5" handmade clamshell box covered with Japanese bookbinding fabric. Includes a set of 26 essence vials, 26 diagnostic cards, a hand-bound guidebook for using the essences, a set of index cards, and a pair of tweezers.

Part spoof of our self-help here’s-a-pill world, part demonstration of a heartfelt belief of the efficacy of literature. This book, according to the artist, is a step by step guide to the use of literary essences as natural heath remedies for emotional and spiritual well-being. Open the box, and find 26 vials of literary essence. Each vial contains lozenge-sized circles (allegedly punched from pages of 26 works of literature) in a solution that captures the precise and particular odor of that work. (Leaves of Grass is easy. And perhaps The Hobbit. But the smell of Beckett’s Westward Ho?)

Each essence – hence, each book – cures, alleviates, or engages certain feelings, symptoms, or conditions. The index cards tell you exactly what. Directions call for the ingestion of 4 paper circles to commence the healing. In a private communication, the artist cautions: “NEVER – I repeat NEVER – handle essences with your bare hands! Their potency will be diminished.”

Wendy Fernstrum: "Flower essences are herbal infusions used as natural remedies for mind-body wellness. Literary Essences plays with the idea of literature as an elixir, a ‘you are what you read’ approach to wellness.

“Inside the clamshell box are essential tools for using essences of literature. Each vial contains the punched-out holes of pages from a copy of the book identified on the label, along with a scent. The guidebook answers important questions such as, 'What if I take the wrong literary essence or too much of the correct one?' A set of diagnostic cards identifies the 'positive qualities' and 'patterns of imbalance' associated with each book. A pair of tweezers assists in the extraction of an essence from the vials.”

“One way to approach Literary Essences is to find among the vials a book you’ve read. Locate its matching diagnostic card to learn how that book may have helped you. Then unscrew the cap of the vial to see if the scent corresponds with your memory of the book…..”

“Another approach would be to use the guidebook and the diagnostic cards to identify a book you don’t know, but should. For example, if you long for less longing, you might try Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho. Do you worry that something bad may happen but you’re not sure what? Grace Paley’s Later the Same Day may be of assistance. Case studies show that reading the book while taking the essence helps to instigate a positive emotional shift.”

As they say in the South, “This is a hoot with a little owl behind it.”





By Wendy Fernstrum
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Minnesota Center for Book Arts, 2012. Edition of 25.

5 x 5 x 1.5"; 60 pages. Letterpress printed on a Vandercook Universal I using photopolymer plates of Biblical text. To achieve the luminescent blue background required 6 press runs, each time exactly registered: 2 passes of brown, 2 of black, and 2 of blue for each page. Drumleaf binding with paper covered boards. Title label on front board.

Wendy Fernstrum: "Phases explores the themes of darkness and light through typographical depictions of the moon in its 30 phases. In the first half of the book, the outlined text gradually fills with white, and in the second half the white gradually wanes.”

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Page last update: 04.10.2022


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