Poem Proofs

In our workshops today, we were able to run a few proofs of the first page of our poem by Vita Sackville-West on the Zerkell 145gsm paper bought for the project.

We had a few issues with evenness of impression (see the last line), but this looks like a pretty good start. Tomorrow we’ll work with some ‘make-ready’ (raised paper on the platen bed) which will hopefully even out these impression issues.

Even still, we are super happy with these first prints. It really makes the project feel alive to see the poem emerging like this!





Typesetting Joy

Thanks to the wonderful Ed at The Hell-Box Letter Foundry (http://letterpressworks.co.uk/?page_id=23), today our volunteers experienced the joys of “dissing” a fount of letterpress type.

They started with the full block of type, pictured here:



Taking the type a line at a time, they split up the individual letters with tweezers, putting each letter into its correct slot in the type tray:


They deserve the highest commendation for approaching the task with humour, resilience and aplomb. What a team!

‘Sissinghurst’ – Poem Test Prints

I thought these images of our test runs of the ‘Sissinghurst’ poem prints deserved its own post! You can clearly see the progression and improvement from the first image, through to the latter three, when we had added more packing to the press bed.

These test runs were printed on an Adana five-three press, just to allow us to see if the spacing etc looked ok:


First attempt:


With improvements:





Photo Log – Week Two:

Here are some of the (many excellent) photos, taken by our workshop volunteers this week:

John sets type with aplomb:


Sandra inks up the Minerva, after an admirable battle to get the chase to clip into the chase bed:



Ellie spins the Minerva flywheel:


The team grapples with paper-cutting, working out how best to cut five A4 sheets out, and where the deckle edge should go:


John, Ray, Peter & Gill – the typesetting wonder-team, hard at work:



Test printing on the Minerva:






Week Two – Update

Summarising the two Letterpress Reimagined workshops, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week is a joy! This week, our volunteers got to grips with swapping set type out from smaller ‘five-three’ chases into larger ‘eight-five’ chases, which will then be set into the Minerva chase. (Using smaller chases inside the larger should mean we are able to keep the text in the same place on the page… Hopefully!!

Before this, we ran some test prints of the now correctly spaced poem using the five-three hand press. It was lovely to see the poem on the page, and I’m sure we all had a sense of pride that the hard work was turning into a tangible reality.

While half the team were running the above test prints, the other half were printing part of a different poem by Vita Sackville-West on the Minerva platen. This gave plentiful opportunity for lessons about make-ready, and working to achieve an equal impression. It was a bit of a mission, but with the nine process prints pinned up on the wall, we could clearly see the difference and the improvement the consistent effort created.

Wednesday’s task was to create mock-ups of the poem using the actual paper we’ll be printing on. The benefit of these mock-ups is to give everyone a sense of how the poem will look on the page, and to allow us to draw conclusions about what should go where. We listed the basic components of our booklet: title page, copyright & publishing info, necessary logos, images, introduction/afterword etc, and then played around until we had a better idea of what worked.

We made a lot of progress this week: our wonderful volunteers began the task of cutting the paper down to size, we read and discussed the academic introduction to the piece, and we got the larger chases ready to go next week. Exciting times!

Anticipating Workshops Three & Four

Tomorrow, our intrepid band of volunteers will gather amidst the hop poles for another day of letterpress learnings.

After some general introductions last week, the tasks this week will be a bit more focussed – we’ll continue to fix the spacing and add leading between the lines of the poem to ensure it looks right on the page.

We’ll cut the paper we’re using for the project to size, and stack it safely in a box to prevent dents and creasing.

And we’ll make mock-up copies of the actual booklet in order to work out how the piece should look on the page.

Plenty to be going on with there! Check back tomorrow evening for photos and updates.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of beautiful images of some printing by Alison, from the workshops last week:
excellent from the back too

without the lowercase letter 'e'