Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Letterpress Lesson

Books can only take you so far - the real tricks of the letterpress trade have to be learned in person. Paul and I got to spend this past Saturday with a great fellow Fall's Mill in Tennessee. Fall's Mill not only has a huge waterwheel that powers their stone to grind corn - very cool! - but it also boasts a great little C&P Oldstyle - bonus cool points. (Oldstyle because of the curved spokes on the fly wheel - which means it was manufactured between 1886-1912. My press [aka - Preston, circa 1924] is a Newstyle C&P and has straight spokes on the flywheel.)

Mr. C walked us through the entire printing process - from make-ready to clean up pointing out everything along the way. It was really great to have someone who knows exactly what they are doing show you everything in person. I took notes like a fiend while Paul played paparazzi.

Mr. C showing me where to set the type in the chase (always try for the center). The chase is the "frame" you set the type in

And placement of quoins (items that lock the type and furniture into place) between reglets (skinny wooden strips) - never metal against the metal of the chase; also not directly against furniture (larger wooden blocks)- use reglets

Mr. C doing some fine adjustments of the gauge clips by tapping on them with the pica stick

Mr. C brought some beautiful sample work with him also. Items that he himself had printed and others from friends. This great poem was an item a friend had printed - and the rhyme and meter of it is incredibly addictive. Give a click on the photo above and read it aloud for yourself and you'll see what I mean.



At 6:37 AM, Blogger Anne said...

You're right, that does have a fantastic cadence when read aloud! The ebb and flow of it reminds me of something, some other poet's work, that I can't quite place at the moment. Thanks for sharing, though.:)

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Brina Bat said...

Longfellow or Tennyson perhaps? But the speed on this one grows quick from a trot to a canter and gallop and then back down to canter again and spurs on to a gallop. Its such fun I decided to record it the other night so I could learn it.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger CaveHop said...

What a cool opportunity; I'm jealous.

To me at least, the cadence of the poem seems reminiscent of The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes (which Loreena McKennitt did a wonderful rendition of, by the way).

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Now that I've had time to ponder it, definitely The Highwayman (thanks, cavehop!), but also a little bit of Poe's The Raven, too, I think. :)


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