51. Maxims by the Yard – Some in Meter : Spools of Knowledge Vol. II

Edition of 100 copies
Diameter 5″, ¾ “x 144” fully extended

This second volume of 36 original maxims duplicates Volume I in its confection, but the letterpress printing on the spool and the woven ribbon text are both of a carmine color as opposed to the first volume’s maroon. Also, this time there are no joins along the length of the ribbon. The description below repeats the prospectus of Volume I, item number 49 in the archive.

The typeface is san-serif to increase the leggibility of the woven letters, but the upper-case initial letter of the first word in each phrase is in a Roman type approaching Palatino. The titling on the cardboard spool itself is genuine Palatino, designed by Hermann Zapf. It was based on Renaissance letterforms which in turn reflected Ancient Roman chiseled lettering, when both serifs and maxims were very popular. One of the maxims on this roll, “Good messages bear repeating, not plagiarizing” relates both to the Palatino typeface and Hermann Zapf’s career. Good messages, verbal and visual, have always appeared in history. The existing record of human creativity makes it impossible to be entirely original. But every epoch needs its bards and good ideas bear repeating. Zapf, a highly gifted, self-taught calligrapher and type designer was greatly disheartened to see his influence deteriorate into plagiarism: Palatino is known by many different names in type catalogs and computer programs all over the world, with no royalties or recognition to the man who created it.

The initial letters are not only distinguished by being a different typeface, they are also larger than the letters that follow, and are woven in bold type. This is to convey the idea of a rubric, which is a distinctive initial letter or heading usually in red lettering. A rubric is also a rule or instruction in religious texts and law codes. Maxims are similar, in that they attempt to express fundamental principals, as well as rules of conduct, in a concise manner.

The maxims here are heartfelt opinions, autobiographical musings and human observations. Some are intended purely to amuse, but all spring from truth. A number of the maxims are composed in rhyming couplets or metric verse, which is why “meter” figures in the title. That is also why there are precisely one hundred copies in this edition; one for every centimeter in a meter.

Spool title printed at Stamperia Valdonega of Verona on acid-free cardstock manufactured by Cartiere Fedrigoni. Spool die-cuts created and executed in Bologna’s industrial quarter. Ribbon woven in Carpi, Italy. Sewing, ironing and cylindical forms carried out by the artist.

The volume is stored in a non-adhesive cardstock clamshell box, with one woven maxim, visible on the spine, used to bind the clamshell together.


To jar the mind is to open it.

Thoughts are undermined
if never brought to light for inspection.

Ideas would never be perfected
should no one stand to be corrected.
Everything we prove needs proofing.

In case of failure,
re-assess success.

You may be garnish, yet relished.

Food not consumed before it’s old
will be consumed by mold.

I do not believe in eating in silence,
only in eating silently.

Though its Latin root suggests it,
educated is not synonymous with polite.

Manner is 6/7 of manners.

It is easier to spout wisdom
than espouse it.

If you can’t be illustrious,
be illustrative.

No university is free of unveracity.

Success in history I determine to be
access in youth to a library.

Too much time with books
may result in being confined to them.

Dust grows on you, by definition.

Wishes may be fulfilled once realized.

Pipe dreams require plumbing.

Distraction comes into play,
inviting invention.

Interest compounds knowledge.

A constant perception of potential
is potentially disabling.

Solutions dissolve problems.

In absence of common ground,
seek higher ground.

No matter how difficult the ascent,
it’s preferable to the decline.

Be possessing, not possessive.

My lust for knowledge
isn’t carnal.

Religious fanatics encourage sects.

The holiest are never
holier than thou.

Candidates are rarely candid.

To never promise is to never fail,
nor please.

Mettle detection is defective in elections.

Armchair warriors have remote control.

The litigious create not just antipathy,
but history.

The only stigma I would want
is born of saffron.

I may be obscure, but never opaque.

Is it the digital age because fingers
are the only thing we still need to move?

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