From DA 88: The David B. Milne Playing Card Project

sample card from the David B. Milne Playing Card Project featuring a watercolour of various king, queen and knave images used on the face cards.

One of the fascinating articles in the latest issue of the Devil’s Artisan dives into a rather non-traditional project taken on by Canadian painter David B. Milne in the early 1940s. Milne became fascinated by the history of playing cards and created a series of watercolours featuring the characters we normally see on face cards–kings, queens and knaves/jacks. These watercolours were later used to create actual decks of playing cards in 1973 by Stan Bevington and David Silcox.

You can read about this fascinating project in DA 88.

You can also purchase one of a limited number of sets of these playing cards, should you find the project of particular interest. Keep reading for information about the set and how to order.

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(David Milne/Coach House Press/Stan Bevington/David Silcox). A set of two decks of the standard 52 playing cards plus two jokers each, measuring 9 x 6.3 cm (standard size), designs based on two watercolours by David Milne. (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1973). 1 of 100 sets in a custom-made wooden box (11.5 x 14.8 cm, either Ontario white pine or Ontario walnut) with a sliding lid.

The set of decks, showing recto and verso cards, displayed in a custom-made wooden box.

The rectos of both decks are illustrated with a watercolour design from Milne’s ‘King, Queen, and Jokers’ I and II — the first deck features a reproduction of figures taken from of one watercolour image in ‘King, Queen, and Jokers I’, while the second deck features a reproduction of figures from one watercolour image in ‘King, Queen, and Jokers II.’ The figures for the knaves, queens, kings and jokers are taken from the Milne watercolours, which in the original watercolours are full-figures but for the face cards in the decks are depicted in the more traditional three-quarter figure.

In an interview with Don McLeod in DA: The Devil’s Artisan (issue 88, 2021), Stan Bevington discusses the genesis and evolution of these cards and details their printing and production. The process involved the use of integrated random grain screenless photography and a complicated colour separation procedure.


Sets of the cards can be ordered from David Mason Books at:  or 416-598-1015

Appointment is necessary to view. Please call.

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Cover Reveal: Sneak Peek at DA 87

DA 87 cover reveal with blank cover decorated with question mark

Can you believe that in a few short months we’ll be celebrating the release of yet another fascinating issue of Canada’s journal of the printing arts, The Devil’s Artisan? It seems like forever ago, but also just yesterday that we were announcing the arrival of DA 86.

But we don’t like to be idle, so even as you’ve sat down to enjoy the latest issue, we’ve been turning our attention to the next, and we’re too excited not to let you in on some of the developments.

So, to whet your appetite for the Fall/Winter 2020 issue, today we he have a treat for you: a cover reveal! You (yes, you!) are the first to clap eyes on the outstanding cover, and, if you look closely, you’ll be able to discern the lead article, too.

Drumroll please…

DA 87 cover, featuring circus design and title "Trading in the Real: Andrew King and Design on the Canadian Prairies"

Isn’t it stupendous? I absolutely love the bright carnival design–it evokes such joy and nostalgia! It definitely promises and entertaining look at some regional Canadian design history.

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at the cover of our next issue. Check back in a few weeks for a sneak peek at the contents!


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Hot Off the Press: All New Issue 86!

At long last, we’re pleased to finally have print copies of the latest issue of the Devil’s Artisan: number 86! Keep scrolling for a little peek inside the covers of this lovely tome.

DA86 spread featuring photo of Bill Poole and beginning of essay on his work.
DA 86 spread featuring a portrait Bill Poole as well as the beginning of Gordon Sisler’s essay “Bill Poole’s Bean Field”.

This issue features a fascinating comparison of the work of the late Bill Poole—a printer, designer and educator who was instrumental in founding the Grimsby Wayzgoose as well as founder of Poole Hall Press.

Spread featuring cylinder presses as well as text from Stephen Sword's Essay
Spread from Stephen Sword’s essay “Cylinder Presses in Canadian Museums”.

I particularly enjoyed looking at all the wonderful photographs of old presses in Stephen Sword’s investigation into cylinder presses in Canadian museums.

Spread featuring portrait of Rollin Milroy and text of the interview
DA 86 also features John Shoesmith’s great little interview with Rollin Milroy of Heavenly Monkey.

Heavenly Monkey is a small press known for producing beautiful letterpress editions on handmade paper. Librarian John Shoesmith delves into the whys and hows of Heavenly Monkey’s publishing process in his interview with Rollin Milroy.

Spread featuring this issue's keepsake as well as the table of contents
There is more to be seen in this handsome issue!

Don’t miss Larry Thompson’s photo tour of the new MacOdrum Library Book Arts Lab at Carleton University, not to mention recurring DA features such as our rogues and type specimens.

I hope you enjoyed this peek at the pages of our latest issue. If you’re a subscriber, you should see your copy in the mail very soon. If you’re not (Subscribe!) you can purchase print copies through AbeBooks, or download digitally from our eBook store.


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Unleash Your Creativity With Our New Design Resource: Garamond Ornaments

If you’re finding yourself with some extra time on your hands—and with a desire to nurture a creative spark or two—we’ve got just the thing for you: a fabulous new addition to our dingbats section.

Garamond Tailpiece

Whether you’re an experienced graphic designer or just beginning to experiment with the pleasures and perils of the art form, our Garamond Ornaments page is a great starting point for your next design project. The collection features a variety of print-resolution graphics specifically chosen for use with the classic old-style serif typeface known as Garamond.

With its roots in sixteenth-century France, Claude Garamond’s storied typeface has been a staple of French design for centuries. Many new revival faces, including the ubiquitous Monotype Garamond, which often ships with Microsoft Office products, and Adobe Garamond, often used in print publications, have ensured that Garamond continues to be a popular choice for designers and non-designers alike.

Garamond Rule

But what to pair with such a vaunted typeface?

The majority of the ornaments, rules and initials included on the Garamond Ornaments page come from An Exhibit of Garamond Type with Appropriate Ornaments, a volume produced in 1927 by the American company Redfield-Kendrick-Odell. We have also included on the page a reproduction of an introductory text entitled “Garamond & His Famous Types” by type historian Henry Lewis Bullen for those seeking context, available as a print-resolution PDF (set, naturally, in Adobe Garamond).

Garamont Dingbat


portraitWe hope you enjoy this free resource, and we’d love to see the beautiful projects you make with the help of these lovely dingbats. Keep in touch!



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The Devil's Artisan is remarkable in Canadian publishing in that most of the physical production of our journal is completed in-house at the shop on the Main Street of Erin Village. We print on a twenty-five inch Heidelberg KORD, typically onto acid-free Zephyr Antique laid. The sheets are then folded, and sewn into signatures on a 1907 model Smyth National Book Sewing machine.

To take a virtual tour of the pressroom, visit us at YouTube for a discussion of offset printing in general, and the operation of a Heidelberg KORD in particular. Other videos include Four Colour Printing, Smyth Sewing and Wood Engraving. Photographs of production machinery used on these pages were taken by Sandra Traversy on site at the printing office of the Porcupine's Quill, December 2008.

The Devil's Artisan would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Magazine Fund (CMF) through the Support for Arts and Literary Magazines (SALM) component toward our editorial and production costs. Thanks, as well, for the generosity of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Sleeman Brewing Company.