Posts in Letterpress Printers
Listen, I could break out of this place if I had some sturdy cornhusks, one tablespoon of vaseline, two steel springs, and a puppy.
But do I really want to?
Jen is printing a card
in preparation for the MCBA Festival, not the Mutation Chinchilla Breeders Association—a real thing—but the Minnesota Center for Book Arts festival. It’s Saturday, November 19th and if you like celebrating books via buying book-like items (handmade paper, journals, our cards) you should totally go.
My contribution to the show is this lovely display signage I designed:
See you there!
I need a mechanic. Or whatever that person is called that fixes printing presses.
I left the house to escape this:
Only to discover:
That’s Jen crammed in the corner (where she should be) trying to figure out why the belt is slipping off our C&P. Why are her hands glowing? If only we had an answer.
Proposals were requested by a public entity (m-m-mysterious!) and WHO ARE WE not to respond?? We felt it our duty (doodie) – as citizens – of this great state, to answer the call.
What follows is a step-by-step account of the creation of the proposal. Zeichen Press style.
1) Do I look bitter? I’m getting into character.
2) Brrr! This type is as cold as my heart. Here is the part where lead type is put into something called a stick. Sometimes reading backwards makes me so angry.
3) Now that cold, lead type is locked up into a (cold, metal) frame using fancy (cold, metal) things called quoins. This whole thing is very heavy and sits flat on a proof press. Ready to do my bidding.
4) I load up my brayer with black ink so I can roll it across the type.
5) When I’m sure that my type is evenly inky, I roll this over it. *Notice the vice-grips. I don’t remember why I put them on there and am now afraid to take them off.
6) Isn’t this magical? Ink + paper = awesome.
7) (I would show Jen printing the pages for the guts of the proposal but I felt too fragile to withstand another one of her icy stares.)
8) Printing done.
9) This is where Andrea is shackled to the table and sews the pages into little books while I throw olives at her head.
10) And this is where the little books are finished.
I suppose other people will email their proposals. That’s cool, too.
The car was packed and I squeezed myself between a card rack, a change box, some stuffed animals and one dozen boxes. I was just lucky there was room for me at all. Okay? OKAY?
Jen and I have gotten pretty good at setting up for a show. It goes like this: I ask Jen which cards I should put where. She tells me. I do it. She dismantles what I did and does it a different way. It’s very efficient.
All the big names (in printmaking) were at MCBA on Thursday for the Mid America Print Council Conference Press Fair. Jenni Undis (of Lunalux) and I put on our roller skates and got into a battle – it ended with lots of hair-pulling and some teeth (hers) on the floor. It was worth it because I earned the title of “Letterpress Queen.” Maybe next year, Jenni. Maybe next year.
A fair wouldn’t be complete without, at least, one doppelganger:
What a pleasant stalker!
OH, ALSO: Miss Amy Jo was there! Good Lord, her work makes me love her. I’m sorry you had to hear that, Miss Amy Jo.
Our transition from the Cape included a stay in Boston.
Boston is best experienced on-foot and with a tour guide dressed as Dorothy Quincy Hancock.
The next picture is for Andrea. (Edmund loved the Westin).
Okay, fun’s over. Back to the muggy wall of heat – we walked out of the Minneapolis airport and I felt like someone wrapped me in 100 electric blankets.
… remember when I told you about this?? I don’t know a lot but I do know that this belly is full of kittens. They are due in a few days – and I swear to God, if any of you take one home – I will repay you in strange and creative ways.
One more thing: The pile of mail, collected by Jen, contained this:
The shop has been a very sultry 90° for the past couple of days – which makes for nearly nude printing. The latest Room & Board project is half done and it’s looking frantastic – the ink loves the heat and lays down like a whipped dog – I also love the heat and yet I stand. And stand. I’d like to thank cold-press coffee from Sisters’ Sludge for helping me to keep it real.
People (my mom) always (whenever she feigns interest) ask me, “where do you get this stuff?” Type, cabinets, printer’s cuts, ink, chases, quoins, sticks, cutters, furniture, leads, slugs, tympan, rollers… letterpress takes up a lot more space than this tidy little laptop. I wonder if that’s one of the reasons people stopped using it? I doubt it.
Jen and I both agreed that our favorite salvaging-situation involved a compulsive hoarder with a murder/torture-pit (alleged) in his basement. This house had it all; two commercial espresso machines:
two Kluge Printing Presses:
(just in case you’re wondering: TWO Kluge Printing presses are massive and would look like this if not covered in books, dvd’s, televisions, kleenex boxes, grocery bags, magazines and mail):
a family-style restaurant booth: (this suspiciously barricaded the basement door)
dozens of old computers: (so sentimental)
“stackable” type cabinets: (we took these)
Oh, here’s a fun game:
Can you find the treasure in this photographic vignette?:
How about here?:
Oh, well. Enough of the sweet, sweet memories. Here’s part of our latest salvage:
It was everything I imagined. Except better, because of the chicken shots. Yum!
Mary Bruno organized the event in honor of Amos Kennedy’s timely arrival. As far as I could tell, Amos is not related to THE Kennedy family. There were certain clues, like: He did not share that distinctive/made up accent or that glamorous head of hair. Also, he is black.
Anyway, Amos was there and we hugged like old friends. There was much talk, naturally, of printing presses. Mary Bruno ended up breaking a beer bottle and using it as a weapon – apparently her “street cred” was at stake. Boy was I glad to get out of there with only minor injuries. I wish I could say the same for Jen. Please send flowers and meals to our headquarters.
Two St. Paul printers showed up : Fred Petters of Vandalia Street Press and Bill Moran of Blinc Publishing. Bill was nice. Fred ate off of other people’s plates. I could go on and on but why should I when I have this amazing photograph that perfectly captured the evening?
Why is it that the one time I leave my house something awesome happens?? Jack drove the Heidelberg Windmill down from Wahpeton, North Dakota this morning. Drove it right down to our fancy studio.
I’m in Brainerd not running around the house in my underwear and Jen is back at ZP headquarters. Who knew (Jack the mover knew) that the press was going to be delivered TODAY? Apparently, the hydraulic part of the pallet jack (not Jack the mover) didn’t love the 0°. I guess it was frozen and I’m no expert but that seems like a setback. Jen called me wondering where she could find a hair dryer. I don’t know why she wanted to style her hair but I’m not going to judge. Apparently, Jen’s beautiful hair did the trick because the new press is safe and sound in the SW corner of the shop.