Tuesday, March 6

lead me

LetterPress - Printing Kahlil Gibran from Callil Capuozzo on Vimeo.

last week, on a tuesday just as lovely as any tuesday in February ever was, this is what I was doing.

only it was here in Texas, not in Rhode Island (if any two states could be more opposite, I do not know how--not that I've ever been to Rhode Island. is it nice there?). and we were not exactly printing poetry. but aside from those technical differences, it was just about the same process. getting all the itty bitty letters to line up. filling in all the gaps (every single weirdly-shaped one. all of them) with leads and spacers and appropriate widths of furniture. tightening the quoin, everso carefully. slathering a sheet of glass with sticky black ink. rolling and rolling and rolling the ink, to get it just exactly right for inking the type... and then the most exciting bit: setting that perfect blank paper down, rolling it under the platen, and letting that press do its simple, heavy work. rolling it back out and peeling that freshly inked page away from the type-block is pretty lovely too. there's a crisp, rippling sound in it. and then you lay that page down gently and scrutinize it for errors.

we found lots of errors. proofing letterpress prints takes ages. getting the balance of the old Washington Press just right takes ages.

but the archaic novelty of it... oh, it's great. one of these days I'll take pictures of our actual letterpress lab on campus. for now, enjoy these semi-random videos that sort of evoke the experience of working in such a place. (the first far more than this last, I confess. but I do love this movie.... love love love.)

this week in 5340, our class is going to be in the lab looking at type and talking about printing presses. such an awesome little class, this has been. I still need to blog about my hand-bound book, sometime. put that on the list. (it's a long list. getting longer. I need to blog more often.)


Ashley said...

Rhode Island is quite nice, actually. My grandmother has lived there for the past 50 years or so. She has a lovely historic house that is, unfortunately, now in a "bad part of town." But the whole neighborhood is easy to picture 100 years ago when it was new-- very nostalgic. You like nostalgia, don't you? ;-)

amelia c said...

aw, that does sound way nice. yes, nostalgia is a glorious thing. I've been taking regular doses of it for a few weeks, it seems.
someday I should find a historic house to live in. that would be fantastic.