Thank you very much for visiting Red Hydra's website. I'd like to say a couple things before you hit the official bio below. I began making books 44 years ago in Madison, Wisconsin. Making books was an answer to the question, "What is the medium?." As a young man it was a question I asked myself daily. I had deep feelings for art and artists, poetry and poets, the landscape and architects. But how I would express that in some creative way was lost to me. Until I met books. By that I mean making an edition of books by hand from a manuscript of my poems. Book maker Walter Hamady allowed me to take his letterpress printing and hand papermaking classes at the University of Wisconsin in 1975, and with that I was hooked. Within three months I bought my own printing press in Chicago and moved it to the old Washington Hotel in Madison. Carried it up to the 2nd floor with the help of friends and set up a small studio. I reached out to poets I loved and artists I admired to make limited edition books by hand, numbered and signed by the artists. I had no idea at the time that this would become a lifetime of making books. For that I am grateful beyond words.
The miniature book problem. Oh yes, and that perplexing question of why make some of the books as miniatures? I would challenge my advancing letterpress students to make an edition of a miniature book, no larger than that 3" squared when bound, by printing all pages on both sides of one or two pieces of paper. Lines would need to line up on both sides of the sheet, and when trimmed down, cut, and folded into signatures everything needed to line in all directions. The eye can see 1,000th of an inch if something is off, so that becomes a real visible factor when making tiny books. I made my own small book each time I gave that assignment to share in the misery they were going through to make a tiny gem.
Steve Miller’s passion is for making books by hand, letterpress printing, and teaching letterpress printing and hand papermaking. His current Red Hydra Press work revolves largely around ongoing collaborative book projects with Cuban print- and papermakers.
“Words are the motivating factor in my desire to create a book. Red Hydra Press books and broadsides*, letterpress printed** and made by hand, feature poets writing in English and Spanish, in both traditional and experimental formats. The words are accompanied by art work that is sympathetic but often contrary to the words.”
* = text/art printed on one side of a piece of paper, suitable for framing.
** = employing metal type or photopolymer printing plates and a Vandercook Proof Press, motivated by hand.
Steve founded Red Ozier Press in Madison, Wisconsin in 1976 — a fine press devoted to publishing literary first edition books in handmade limited editions. The press moved to New York City in 1979, where Ken Botnick joined the operation. The New York Public Library Special Collections purchased the archive of Red Ozier Press in 1988.
In 1988 Miller joined the faculty of The University of Alabama School of Library & Information Studies, in its MFA Book Arts graduate program. That same year he founded Red Hydra Press. At UA he taught letterpress printing and hand papermaking and coordinated the program. In 2011 the MFA Program received the Institutional Award for Distinguished Achievement, The American Printing Association in New York City. Steve was elected four times as President of The UA Faculty Senate, representing over 1,400 faculty members. Miller is Professor Emeritus at UA.
Steve was, for over twenty years, a Co-director of Paper and Book Intensive, a nationally recognized annual series of summer workshops in book arts. He served as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking in Atlanta, Georgia. He was a founding member of the College Book Art Association, where he was awarded the Distinguished Career Award in 2012. He was honored in 2013 for significant contributions to the field of book arts at the New York Center for Book Arts during its annual benefit celebration.
Steve is past chair of the Penland School of Craft Board of Trustees.