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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Progress with the press

This is what the press looked like on tuesday
Full of rust and filth the press roller wouldn't move at all. We thought that we were going to have to change out the barrings but, it just needed grease the elbow and literal kind.

It's starting to look so awesome and everything is functioning so far. the roller now move with the slightest touch. you can see all the griding on the bed. The paper gripper works and all the registration numbers are still on it. Thought this was in much worse shape, so happy it isn't.

more to come in the next few days.
Thanks for reading

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Philadelphia Prints

So lately I've been going around and meeting older printers that used to do letterpress , just kind of talking with them. If they still have any equipment left it's mostly being used for die-cutting and perfing. Some of these folks are trying to move with the times and some are just biding it. It all come down to that though, time. I feel like there is a missing generation of printers out there. There are all these young folks learning book arts/letterpress as art but, not in a real vocational sense. Same goes for litho, with the consolidation of newspapers and the move to digital books. They aren't learning how to convert Heidelberg's to die-cutting for punching envelopes, they're learning how to hand stitch and stuff.

All of that is well and good but, these folks that lived this haven't really been able to pass their knowledge on to anyone and when I meet with these people there is a sense of extinction. They mostly don't even know that letterpress is a living breathing thing anymore or that anyone is excited by it. I feel like the younger generation could benefit from these dudes and the older folk could gain a sense of legacy by sharing with them.

So I'm looking into starting a non-profit.

I'd like to make a foundation/collabrative work space to kind of bridge this generation gap among printers. Stuff like:

-Get the mechanical know how out there on how to fix a Miehle or a Kluge from someone who has fixed them, not a manual.
-Gather up stories about getting your hand bitten by a C&P when you were 10 and not breaking any bones because you were so little.
-Have lecture series about how type was made, from guys who made it.
-Learning how to kern with hand tools instead of computers.
It would also let these older folks see where this stuff is going; deep impressions, photo-polymer and maybe have the old dogs learn a new trick or two. It would be awesome for me to see old dudes who scrapped their type 20 years ago handling type again. Maybe I'm a romantic.

The whole thing is comprised of three major components

1. The collection of older printers stories and knowledge. This would be accomplished by interviews and invitations to teach regular classes. I would put out a general call in the surrounding areas, in news papers and on social network sites, in addition to my (and whoever else is down) continued visits to these old shops.

2. The younger printers teaching vocationally to future printers, most likely high school students, through arts and vocational programs in the city as well as college students. The focus should be a complete one that includes commercial as well as artistic production. I would like to offer classes to the general public but, that will not be the initial focus. I feel like this is the main purpose of the organization, to not let this sort of gap occur again. This will insure that fad movements and whatever's in vogue won't cause a loss of knowledge because it will create a knowledge base in the young.

3. The creation of a collaborative work space with collections of equipment spanning Litho, Screen, and Letterpress. This should be comprehensive in it's approach, including the tools for fine art production as well as commercial work. These facilities would be either free or charge a nominal fee for members of the organization. People from outside the organization with demonstrated skill could rent time and customers could come and bring jobs to the shop for whatever really and we could use those jobs to teach classes.

All together it's a pretty simple but, a pretty complete idea.

I have had a couple of meetings with folks in the print world about this and am meeting with a friend again this coming wednesday to go over the mission statement and draft of the by-laws. I'm working on the business plan. I bought the website. It's all coming together but, help would be awesome.

I'm posting this everywhere because I want the feedback of printers, bookmakers, graphic designers/typographers in philadelphia or anywhere really. Thoughts, concerns, Ideas for funding, offers to help, etc. Leave comments here or contact me at If you read this and it doesn't apply to you please forward it to someone you think will be in to it.

Thanks again,

I've been really busy being unemployed

I was going to write a blog thanking folks and including my hopes for the new year. That didn't happen at all; I got too busy. Here's what's been going on.

I started my crew training on the Kalmar Nyckel, which has been awesome so far. 2 classes down, 9 to go. It's going to be awesome when I can actually go out and sail her but, right now it's mostly knots and safety drills. Knots are pretty fun except I have sometimes work the standing end instead of the bitter end and it gets a little funky. It's a left/right recognition thing. I'll get it soon. Also there is an entire letterpress shop taking the classes and they have been doing projects related to the class. Check them out here.

I've been going around and meeting older printers that used to do letterpress and still do litho. Just kind of talking with them. It's been pretty fun and sometimes maudlin but, it's given me a direction. I'm moving to start a non-profit to address some stuff. I'll post about it later today or tomorrow.

I have also acquired, as of yesterday and thanks to Geoff Kershaw's war wagon, my first press and a mess of wood type. Here are the pics
Showcard press the bed is 23" x 15" the ink plate still turns. I need to replace the ink rollers. The pull is stuck. one of the wheels is in bad shape but, it shouldn't be hard to fix.

Quions and key, Brayer, a proof planer, and a sweet California Job Case chart. Not pictured is 2 chases and a brush for all the...

TYPE!!! look at all of this.
Some of this is rotten or wormy but most has just been dirty. I originally though I had a about 600 pieces but, it's looking to be closer to 900. The biggest stuff so far is 18 line and the smallest is l.c. for a sans font at about 5. So stoked. Cleaning is time consuming but, so awesome. it's really nice to handle all of this.

I got all of this from a dealer in camden. He's got so much other stuff, warehouses full, if you want the info let me know in the comments or call or email me if you know me like that.

I also got 10 13x13" trays of lead. I haven't even picked them up yet. They are sitting at my folks and I should be getting them tomorrow.

Also, thanks to Geoff again, I have 70 lbs of litho ink coming my way with the possibility of more.

So the shop is almost ready. For printing I need wood and lead furniture and quads for my lead. I also need a freaking table the press will fit on and my type drawers will fit under. Also some shelving.

Printing should start in a week or so. Geoff's coming by on saturday night and we are going to make a evening of getting the press in ship shape. Thanks if you read all of this, i'm so excited :)