The open exhibition of our Letterpress Reimagined project is up and running, open every day until October 28th, from 12-4pm.
Visitors can spend time reading about the project – the hand typesetting, printing and proofing carried out by the volunteers, as well as seeing examples of the poem in progress.
The Minerva press used in the project is also in situe, and the volunteers manning the exhibition can offer a demonstration of the press in motion.
Towards the back of the exhibition room, three hand presses are set up, so visitors can have ago at letterpress printing themselves!
While the volunteers marbled marvellously, I treadled away at the Minerva, finishing printing page four of the poem, and getting half of page five (the final poem page) completed:
You know it’s going to be an exciting day, when your workshop facilitator shows up with several litres of boiled seaweed/moss and a jar of ox bile!
Yes, this gloopy green substance (carrageen) forms the base of the ‘size’ used in marbling – the surface on which the paint rests, and from which we drew our marbled prints.
In this image, the volunteers carefully lay the page on the surface, before gently lifting it, and then rinsing it to reveal the wonderful colours underneath:
This part of the process required a complex mix of skill and luck. It was important not to let the liquid run onto the back of the print, as this formed the inside front cover of our booklet. At the same time, the ink needed to go right to the edges of the page.
Lifting the page up from the liquid and turning it over was always a moment of great revelation and joy. There were exclamations of sheer delight!
Some of the workshop volunteers expressed their joy by wearing the marbling materials:
The results were astonishing. We have more covers to marble tomorrow, and as the project progresses, but here are just some of the marvellous results:
Tomorrow, having replenished our supplies, we will marble with aplomb, and then try our hands at the processes involved in traditional book-making. We are ‘awl’ excited (see what I did there!).
We’re really looking forward to week six of our project workshops at Sissinghurst Castle Garden. This week, we will be learning the basics of marbling and binding, to give our poem booklet the traditional treatment, and to make sure it looks as close to the original as possible.
To guide us, Anna Fewster will be leading both days of workshops. On Tuesday we will be marbling, and on Wednesday, hand-binding some notebooks.
We’ll then be able to transfer these skills over to the actual poem booklet, with the volunteers hand-binding the edition in the traditional manner.
The project carries on apace, with pages 1-4 of the poem all but complete. This week, as well as marbling and binding, we hope to finish printing page 5 of the poem, and begin to run proofs of the poem title pages and end pages.
At the end of October, we will be holding an open symposium to round up our project, to talk about what we have done, and hopefully to be able to show the final copies of the ‘Sissinghurst’ poem we have created.
Please drop us an email at: email@example.com if you’d like any more information, or if you’d be interested in coming along.
Here is the poster advertising the event:
Canterbury Christ Church University have very kindly featured our project on their website, and in their most recent staff newsletter.
You can read the full article here.
Here are just a few more photos I found, showing our printing, proofing and checking joys, this week:
Here, Vicky spins the flywheel, under the watchful eyes of John and Peter:
The printing and inking dream-team:
Everyone checks one of the first prints for evenness and accuracy:
Later, we cheerfully checked more closely for accurate page registration: