May Day Press ~ Washington
(Catherine Alice Michaelis)

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University of Puget Sound, Collins Memorial Library: "Catherine Alice Michaelis has long been inspired by plants to create artists’ books and prints. Passionate for the green world, Michaelis has transitioned from working with mayflowers to maypoles, and from pole stars to pentagonal symmetry. [She has] 19 years of letterpress printing and book design. She often combines other printing techniques in her colorful work, along with the skillful paper engineering."

Becoming – Artist’s Books Unshelved
Catherine Alice Michaelis on Craft in America
Flora and fauna bookworks by Michaelis
Women and fashion bookworks by Michaelis

The Scientist Who Reveals Water May Run Intermittenly on Mars
Urges a Research Team Be Sent As Soon As Possible

By Emily Van Kley
Seattle, Washington: May Day Press, 2017. Edition of 50.

5.25 x 8"; 4 pages. Text handset in Kabel and San Serif Light typefaces. Letterpress printed on Arches Text Wove with a pressure printed image underneath. Lama Li orange end sheets. Cover is contact printed from avocados. Designed and printed by Catherine Alice Michaelis with assistance from Bill Moody. Initialed and numbered by the artist.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "'The Scientist …' is a poem about going to Mars, by Emily Van Kley who wrote most of the poetry in 'Soil Dwellers.' [May Day Press, 2015, Out of Print] The poem is printed over a pressure print. I did more botanical contact printing for the cover - but only with avocado pit slices. Of course each cover will be slightly different. The poem opens - trifold with title page far left and two pages of the poem middle and far right. Colophon on back. The cover is folded down and then over - doubling up the front and back."

Colophon: "Emily Van Kley's poems appear in numerous literary publications, including Best American Poetry. Her most recent award is the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. Raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she now lives in Olympia, Washington."

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Invocation to the Water Spirits
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2005. Edition of 150.

6 x 6" flexagon. As Catherine Alice Michaelis says, " How to read your flexagon: Always fold pages back from center on fold lines. The enter lines may rub, but that's okay - keep turning. It goes round and round!" There's even a diagram included to help you go round and round.

Another lovely piece from May Day Press evoking Michaelis' Native American heritage. The entry into the flexagon structure is a background of blue water with a call to the Mother of the Waters floating across the page to "Encircle us." And, the flexagon structure does come round to encircle the message.

Invocation to the Water Spirits book
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Catherine Alice Michaelis on women and fashion  

By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, 2007. Edition of 90.

4.5 x 10.25"; 26 gown-shaped pages. Patterning and decorative techniques include photopolymer, metal ornaments, and pressure prints letterpress printed. Paper: Arches Text Wove with Goudy Ornate and Deepdene. Handcolored Karakusa and Asahi supplements. Housed in patterned purple cloth clamshell box.

Organized in the main chronologically, this account of changes in style and fashion of women's underwear posits reasons for change — in the main, shifting power relationships and technological developments – from ancient times to the present.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "[The book] has 5 prints inside - pressure prints of historical underwear I fashioned from Barbie clothes, altered clothes, and clothes I made for the book. It has 7 pages of professionally edited text. "

"A Revealing History of Women’s Underwear was inspired by a combination of seeing two items together. One was an altered book, its pages folded back from the corners, changing the shape of the pages (probably Roger Piottin’s work). Next to it was a print of a woman in Victorian dress, her hooped skirts echoing the 3-D shape of the altered book. I instantly saw a book that would be shaped like a dress that would open to reveal the underwear worn underneath.

"Researching the text brought me many surprises. One was that I had never given thought to most of our underwear history being above the waist, and not below. This immediately changed my ideas about the book shape. I was also surprised to learn that underclothes were worn to protect the outerclothes from the body, which was infrequently washed. It was very revealing to study the changes in modesty, less and more, back and forth, through the centuries. Most of the research for this book is European history, and the changes in the Royal Court, politics, and class can all be studied through the lens of underwear history. I was fascinated. It seems we are, after all, what we wear."

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Party Dress
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2004. Edition of 25.

7 x 3.25", opens to 10.5" Eight-panel accordion fold so that four dress images are displayed on each side. Each page constructed with dress on top two-thirds of panel in decorative papers while the bottom third of the four interior 'pages' are printed letterpress with the author's memories of her Mother's party dress. Housed in folding paper covers, letterpress title label stitched to front cover. Handmade papers by Kathy Kuehn.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "Party Dress was inspired from an old box of photos of my parents from when they were younger, flashier, and enthralling to their young daughter. The photographs brought back to me the sounds and textures of my mother’s party dresses. I use to play in my mother’s closet where hemlines tickled my face and her scents wove a spell around me. I imagined an exotic life in my mother’s high-heeled shoes. The text of Party Dress evokes my mother’s pre-party ritual.

"Party Dress is an accordion book of dresses, mimicking my mother’s closet. The dresses are cut from Japanese papers (the papers vary in each book). My mother’s most fascinating clothes were those my father brought back from Southeast Asia and the South Pacific when he was in the Air Force. The paper doll tabs are there because my early dolls were paper, and I associate them with the time of my father’s absence.

"The intent of Party Dress is to honor my mother’s beauty, her exquisite sewing skills, and a childhood that still remains mysterious and enchanted."



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Flora and fauna bookworks by Michaelis

Root, Leaf, & Flower
A Printed Garden

By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, 2018. Edition of 50.

6.4 x 3.1"; 15 pages. Letterpress printed with handset type. Botanical contact prints. Paper covers with handsewn binding. Designed and printed by Michaelis. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "Root Leaf, & Flower is a study of eleven individual plants and their transformation onto paper. The plants were collected from my garden. Each displays the unique gesture and color of a plant."

Each book varies slightly since each page is a handmade botanical print. Each page is labeled with that plant's name. The front cover is a Sweet Woodruff print, the back cover a Coltsfoot print.


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Fatal Fairy
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, 2017. Edition of 40.

5 x 12.25"; 10 pages. Letterpress printed on handmade Japanese dyed paper. Botanical contact prints. Bound with a side-sewn stitch. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "Fatal Fairy traces seven pairings of words to their linguistic roots. The words explore letterpress printing, alchemy, nature, mysticism, magic, demons, matriarchy, and self-empowerment. The pairs are fatal/fairy, Beltane/black, democracy/demon, alchemy/font, Hades/envy, glamour/grammar, and talisman/entelechy. Each word pairing is printed in wood type and all other text is handset in metal and letterpress printed on handmade Japanese dyed paper. Two plant talismans were hand drawn and converted to photopolymer plates and printed in gold ink during December's [2017] supermoon.

"Interleaved with the texts are 10 pages of botanical contact prints. The botanical prints are an alchemical process using earth, water, and fire to transfer and transform the colorants from plants (an earth element) to paper.

"Fatal Fairy went through the printing press forty-one times using eighteen different colors."




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Erotica Botanica
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, 2010. Edition of 40.

4.5 x 6.5"; 16 pages. Hand-set type, letterpress printed over relief-printed stencils on Domestic Etching. Folded accordion style and pamphlet stitched. Enclosed in a wrapper.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "Enter the sensual Erotica Botanica through an unfolding caress of its leaf shaped pages. Delicate flowers with enticing organs float up from the folds above a bed of leaves and seed pods. Erotic verse, written by flowers and pollinators, inspires the viewer to contemplate the sexual desire of plants."

The trade edition is comprised of the accordion fold with text and images laid in a complementary wrapper. The deluxe edition, described below, has a different wrapper with supporting top and bottom flaps and five pop-ups, (one delicately concealed in the top flap).

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "There are two blue flaps inside that hold the book in at the top and bottom.... All the imagery for the book was printed from stencils I designed and cut. Except [one] flower which Billy [Michaelis's husband] made. I think this is the only stencil that was cut once. All the other stencils for the book were cut at least twice, and some (including the leaf pages) three times! There are four different flowers and they pop-up from the folds."
$265 (Deluxe)
$125 (Standard; Last 2 copies, AP)

Deluxe edition
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Signs of Rain
By Theophrastus
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2004. Edition of 70.

6.5 x 5" with 13 leafs. Printed letterpress on Arches Text Wove with Arrighi and Centaur typefaces. Borders and emblems were designed and cut in lino. Excerpted from "Enquiry Into Plants and Minor Works on Odours and Weather Signs" by Theophrastus, translated by Sir Arthur Hort and published by Heinemann, London, and Putnam's, New York in 1916.

Aristotle bequeathed his books, writings, and his garden at the Lyceum to Theophrastus. In this garden Theophrastus began the first systematic botanical study of plants. He was dedicated to learning, teaching, and the advance of science. His inquiry into the essential nature of plants led the field in the western world.


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May Basket
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2002. Edition of 200

5 x 7" Accordion folded basket shaped book with six flower inserts. Each "flower" has a short printed text regarding May Day and the "flower's" background regarding the Day. Housed in protective hinged plastic case. Hand cut leaves and flowers were painted with acrylics and letterpress printed. The basket fold is a Hedi Kyle design.

Halfway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, May Eve marks a night when the door opens between worlds and spirits pass through. Catherine Alice Michaelis has made Maypoles and baskets since she was a child. This is her favorite basket so far.


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May Day Press SOLD / Out of Print Title:

Aster Nautica
By Clare Elliot Lilliston
Seattle, Washington: May Day Press, 2015. Edition of 45 variables.

8 x 11.25" closed. Single opening. Text letterpress printed with handset type by Catherine Alice Michaelis.

Seattle poet Clare Lilliston finds inspiration in the first flower to be grown by astronauts in space.

May Day Press: "The writing explores the human need for our plant companions in space and ideas of nature inspired by the first zinnia to bloom in space.

"Catherine Alice Michaelis combined nine print runs and techniques of letterpress-printing, pressure-printing, ghost-printing, and mono-printing to create Aster Nautica. All but one of the pressure prints are created completely from plant matter." (accessed 7/21/16): "On Jan. 16, 2016, Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly shared photographs of a blooming zinnia flower in the Veggie plant growth system aboard the International Space Station. Kelly wrote, 'Yes, there are other life forms in space!'"

(SOLD/Out of Print)



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Aztec Marigold
Tagetes erecta

By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2005.
Edition of 75.

3.25 x 4.5"; 7 foldout pages. Handset type with linoleum cut images. Includes small package of Aztec Marigold seeds.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "This piece was inspired by the smell of marigolds. While planting them in the garden one summer and I realized they smelled like Nepal. They took me right back to that place and time. I hadn't realized until then that I had that smell association. When I saw this particular variety in the UW [University of Washington] medicine garden, I became very curious about its cultural history."
((SOLD/Out of Print)

Aztec Marigold book

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The Embrace of Rose
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, 2008. Edition of 75.

4 x 6.25"; 8 pages. Letterpress printed text. Pressure printed roses. Printed on Superfine in Centaur and Arrighi typefaces. Pamphlet stitched binding. Red paste paper cover.

Text: "Just as we deliver roses to the celebrant, the ill, and the beloved, we can bring ourselves a moment of centering serenity or uninhibited joy by stopping to smell the roses. As we take a deep breath, the rose reaches into our heart chemically, spiritually, and emotionally, and we receive nature's embracing gift."

Colophon: "This rosy idea was designed, written, letterpressed, and everything else by Catherine Alice while snow (and rain) fell on the deep red rose hips surrounding the studio."

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "This is a colorful, elegant unfolding for a flower that inspires most everyone. The text of this piece explores the nature of the rose's scent and its
power to affect us so profoundly. ... Inside is a sheet pressure printed with roses on one side and letterpress printed text on the other. It is sewn with yellow linen thread, as more than 90% of roses have yellow stamens."



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Flower Recipes for a Garden Party
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2005. Edition of 75.

3.5 x 5.25"; 14 unnumbered pages. Letterpress printed. Pamphlet style with sewn binding.

Colophon: "Inspired by the fabulous garden parties at Mary Swanson's."

The recipes include: Alicia's Lavender Lemonade, Arabian Almonds, Lavender Cookies, Mixed Greens with Confetti Petals, Pinks Vinegar, Rose Petal Glaze, and stuffed Tulips.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "We eat the fruits and seeds of flowers, why not the flowers themselves? This little book contains recipes for flowers all tested and tasted. From Arabian Almonds with orange flower water to Stuffed Tulips, a complete garden party menu is presented."

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Gardening by the Moon and Stars
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2006. Edition of 75.

4.25 x 4.75";4.25 x 19" extended. 6 unnumbered pages. Vertical accordion structure. One-fold sheet (7.5 x 3.5") sewn in. Text for fold-in sheet "Gardening by the Moon's Phase & Sign." Text for accordion " The Pleiades Star Cluster. Letterpress printed. Illustrated front cover with paper cut and fold to form moon design.

Text: "Moon gardening is an ancient practice based on the moon's pull on Earth's water bodies. The moon's gravitational force affects more than the tides. Ground water tables and the subtler flow of water in soil and plants are also affected."
(SOLD/Out of Print)

Gardening by the Moon and Stars book
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By Kim Newall
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2002. Edition of 250.

3.8 x 5" Double spiral-bound laid-in black & silver fitted paper box with illustrated title label. Printed letterpress with linoleum block prints by the author.

"Halves" is a celebration of the symmetry of our body set within the poetry of varying juxtapositions. Each combination presents a possibility inherent within our sacred trans-sensory capabilities.


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How Seeds Travel
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 1995. Edition of 175.

5.25 x 8" with 10 pages. Printed letterpress with Goudy and Garmont types on Rives Lightweight and folded into covers of Kuzuryu Green, an endsheet of olive dyed paper, and a label printed on Hagakure Brown. Leaves are accordion folded. With reduction lino cuts by Michaelis.

Text snakes down the page, suggesting the swirling wind and the seed pod descending. Michaelis describes the highly evolved and myriad ways that seeds are dispersed, from winged seeds, like the maple, called Samaras; to water plants with cork in or around the seed to help them float; yet sensual, evoking the unseen circus of the plant world. A variety of linoleum printed seed pods adorn the pages in a natural palette. Falling as they do across the spread of the accordion sheet pages, they illustrate also the wind on which seeds travel. Michaelis takes us on the journey of nature at work. "At first glance it may look as if plants drop their seeds without plan or design; but in fact, the dispersal of seeds is highly evolved." She shows us the carriers of seeds from air to animals and finally the ultimate time traveler. "From tombs of long ago civilizations, archeologists have found seeds that have the power to germinate after thousands of years of dormancy. This is how seeds travel through time."

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Ingredients for a Night Blooming Garden
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2005.
Edition of 75.

3 x 4.75"; 8 pages. Single sheet book folded. Pressure print. Linoleum cuts. Housed in matching brown paper wrapper with paper slip and slot closure.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "So many garden ideas, so little time to garden. Sometimes the gardens I want to create just can't happen in the yard, they have to be created in
the studio. This one is a pressure print of black-leaved plants on dark paper with linoleum-printed white flowers, stones, and moon to light your way through the pages."


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Old Flames Mismatched
True Stories of Extinguished Love
Volume One

By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Vashon Island, Washington: May Day Press, 2000.

1.5 x 2" unused matchbook. Letterpress printed. Miniature.

The words on the matchsticks describe former friends and lovers. As matches are removed the text changes. Catherine Alice Michaelis began Old Flames Mismatched by looking at a matchbook, taking it apart, looking at the matches as pages that "turned" as they were used. Match layers made her think of a book with divided pages where images and/or text could mix and match. As one would use a match the words below would differ, altering the story. While the stories change, altering the "reasons," it suggests that perhaps relationships are not taken seriously enough to begin with, and finding the right match is a game we play.

The matches are meant to be used. Just as in relationships we often get burned or burned out, feel used or used up, Old Flames Mismatched is meant to be a ritualized experience of that end of the romance feeling.

A delightfully funny look at our past "loves" in this first in the series of "Old Flames" in the context "Has love's inferno fizzled to a smoking ember? BLOW IT OUT"
(SOLD/Out of Print)
Old Flames Mismatched book
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Plant Dyes from the Kitchen
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, [2006]. Edition of 75.

4.375 x 3.25"; 12 leaves. Letterpress printed at Springtide Press. Typeface: Adonis. Japanese stab binding.

Colophon: "Japanese Uwa papers have been tested, torn, boiled, dyed, hung out to dry, sorted, torn again, letterpressed, stabbed, and sewn. Variations took great effort to achieve. Please do not display in bright light. The paper for each page in this book is dyed from various herbs and foods one might find in a kitchen: Turmeric, Black Tea, Red Onion Skins."

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "This was also created in the kitchen! The pages are a soft Japanese paper dyed with plant stuff after rummaging through the spice cupboard and refrigerator. It was sewn on during Catherine's honeymoon in Sanibel, Florida."
(SOLD/Out of Print)

Plant Dyes from the Kitchen book
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Soil Dwellers
By Emily Van Kley, Melanie Valera, Catherine Alice Michaelis, Emilie Bess
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, 2015. Edition of 55.

5 x 9.75" closed; double-sided accordion with sewn inserts. Linocuts. Botanical contact prints. Each of the books in the edition varies slightly because the paper is a handmade botanical print.* Signed by the collaborators on the colophon. Numbered. Laid in a trifold paper cover with title and image printed on front. Paper by Catherine Alice Michaelis and Bill Moody. Printed by Catherine & Bill Moody & J. Hukee. Research by Emilie Bess. Score by Melanie Valera. Poems by Emily Van Kley. Linocuts by Catherine Moody & Emilie Bess.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "Dirt animated with life in the form of fungus, microbes, and bugs, is transformed into soil, the substrate upon which we reside. Soil Dwellers is a collaborative work inspired by insects that work the earth.

"Emilie Bess served up insect lore and language while carving what's below. Emily Van Kley's words lifted what's underneath into view. Wondering what kind of sound comes from underground, Melanie Valera burrowed below the surface to write the musical score. Catherine Alice Michaelis marked paper with plants* and handset type. She designed a structure, segmented and articulated, a place for our broodings to dwell.

"Like insects sharing tunnels, we moved through each other's worlds: Bess stole words from Linnaeus, Michaelis deposited them into verse; Bess dissected the vernacular of Collembola for Van Kley to reassemble. Fertile and layered, the creation of
Soil Dwellers took us under the microscope and across the landscape, metaphorically and literally, to examine this place and who dwells here."

*Catherine Alice Michaelis: "A botanical contact print (also called eco-print) is made by putting paper and plants into contact with each other and applying various methods to transfer the dye color from the plants to the paper. Our method is to bundle the plants — leaf, petal, seed, bark, &/or root —with the paper and metals and submerse them in hot water."



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The Three Sisters
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Seattle, Washington: May Day Press, 2008. Edition of 50.

9 x 3.5"; trifold. Letterpress printed. Printed on Rives BFK paper. Linoleum print with hand coloring. Handset Centaur and Arrighi typefaces. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "'The Three Sisters' is a story told in North American native cultures about three sisters who were very different, but very close. The eldest sister was corn, the middle sister squash, and the last sister was bean. The sisters’ story is long, but what they teach us is community. By being different we all have something to offer that someone else needs."

Text: "Three Sisters Gardening teaches us how to grow our gardens and communities. The Three Sisters are part of sustainable native farming traditions all over North America. Corn is the oldest sister, bean is the youngest, and squash is the middle sister. Grown together their differences enable them to thrive. Planted in the center of flattened mounds, one in each of the four directions. Four squash seeds are planted in mounds between the corn mounds, one in each direction. After the corn is finger length high, pole beans are planted on the slopes of the corn mounds and thinned to one bean per stalk."

Click here for the video of Catherine Alice Michaelis on her book "The Three Sisters"
(SOLD/Out of Print)



The Three sisters book
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Trial by Fire
By Catherine Alice Michaelis
Shelton, Washington: May Day Press, 2019. Variable edition.

8 round potholders laid in a round (6.25" diameter) metal cooking pot with handle and lid. Materials: Ruined cooking pot, vintage kitchen linens, cotton embroidery thread, & linoleum print. Designed, printed, and stitched by the artist. Numbered.

Catherine Alice Michaelis: "'Trial by Fire' was inspired by the pots I've ruined on the stove through forgetfulness, and my constant hot flashes. Wanting to redeem the pots (and myself) I turned them into housing for potholders stitched with my trials of peri-menopause, the supposed culprit for my forgetfulness. Stitching is intimate, allowing me to be more vulnerable than writing for editions printed via letterpress. In this way, I can believe my story is private, shared just between myself and one other. The title, 'Trial by Fire', comes from the history of burning 'witches'. Set them aflame. If they burn, they're a witch."

Trial by Fire book
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Page last update: 01.05.2023


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