Sunday, September 14, 2008

working around "the shop"

Over the weekend I worked in my shop (aka the garage) a little bit. Using a very fine steel wool and some 3-in-1, I scrubbed off some of the surface rust on the ink plate of my press. It wasn't badly rusted at all, so it cleaned up very easily. The rest of the press I wiped down as best I could. I'm afraid to take it apart to do any major cleaning. The paper cutter has a bit of rust on it too. I tried tackling that with some steel wool but didn't make much progress. The wool is too fine to get the surface rust off. My husband suggested we take the paper cutter somewhere to have it cleaned and powder coated, so I'm going to look into that.

I still haven't gone through all the type (pieces of metal with letters on them, that you print with). I have 3 cabinets of type, but some of the drawers in each cabinet are empty. Trying to figure out how I want to set things up in the garage and then I plan on consolidating my type, hopefully into just 2 cabinets. Here are a few of the drawers:

And more pictures of the equipment:

Last week I worked on an invitation. I created the design, layout, and text in Illustrator. Following some guidelines I found online, I prepared the final digital file and sent it over to a place that makes photopolymer plates. In the class I'm taking, I learned how to make my own plates. It's actually not too difficult if you have the right equipment. But I'm not set up for making plates so I outsourced it. Anyway, I sent my file to this place on a Friday, and I got the finished plate the next day! I can't wait to start printing. Here's the plate:


Monday, September 08, 2008

New obsession: Letterpress!

I know I've been MIA for awhile, but I'm writing to say I'm still here. The last few months have whizzed by in a blur. Summer has come and gone, and here we are back in school and not only have the kids gone back, I have too! That is, if you count going to class every other Saturday.

I started taking a Letterpress class last month. In the class we've learned about the letterpress printing process, how to prepare/operate/cleanup a press, and all sorts of things related to letterpress. The class studio has a vandercook, a Kelsey, and a big platen press called The Old Reliable.

One of the group projects is to print a book of poetry where each of us gets either one poem, or a whole spread. And the next time we meet for class, we are going on a field trip to a local chapter of Center for the Book.

Here are a couple pictures from the first class (apologies for the not-so-great photos -- these were taken with my camera phone)

Classmate putting some metal type away:

Another classmate using The Old Reliable

Now, I had decided I wanted to get my own printing press...and what luck, I found out about an entire printing shop that was available.

My purchase included a C&P 8x12 printing press, 3 cabinets of metal type (that included a beautiful font called Centaur), a 300lb paper cutter, mitering saw, and furniture/lead/quoins/tympan paper/ink -- basically everything you could want/need in your printing shop. And here it is, my very own press!

One (among many) cool things about this whole experience was hearing about the history of my printing equipment. The press belonged to a wonderful local printer named Dianne Weiss. She was well-known for these miniature books she made (I think some of them were called "carousel" books. When I was at her studio, I was able to see some examples of her work which was really very beautiful. And my paper cutter once belonged to a man named Don G. Kelley, another well-known local printer who had a print shop called Feathered Serpent Press.

Stay tuned for more on my new-found obsession :)

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