"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Tree Book Break and Pigs in Amsterdam

I printed the last text page of 12 Trees yesterday. Phew.. it was very tricky and time consuming, but all the text is now done!
I “just” have the 12 main images to print now but they will have to wait until I am back from Amsterdam where I am printing Chris’ “Salute the Pig” book with Thomas Gravemaker at Letterpress Amsterdam again. I printed my Masters project, Hortus Medicus Seedbook with Thomas and so I know the results will be great.

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Proofs for the pig book

The book is a tribute to 10 favourite pig breeds with lino cuts and a short text by Chris. He is also preparing an accompanying recipe book, one dish per pig with a bit of extra info about these lovely animals.

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Pigs on the Block.

I have cut the blocks and proofed them, made up a three section dummy for the pagination and a quick InDesign document as a guide to margins etc. However, letterpress printing, as I have learnt, in the last few weeks has certain constraints and so one has to be flexible about the design especially when hand setting the type.

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Part of the 3 section dummy pasted up with text and images.

As with the !2 Trees book we are just printing the body of the book. endpapers and binding will be done later.It will be a small edition of just 20 .. which I think is about all we can print in 5 days! It’s all so very different from pressing the print button on the computer.. and to be honest much more fun.

More from Amsterdam soon.

I am also posting on Instagram now if you want to see some more snaps of pigs and trees and lovely type.You can find me here….@vallittlewood

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Still printing.. and a snag

We finally coaxed the hand cut title page plate to print the following day and it was fine! It is sometimes bizarre how things work out. Here is the last one on top of the pile of completed sheets:

a-title-block

Then this week we starting printing the handset text

There are only a few lines of text because I am doing all the handsetting and  I am not an expert typesetter. Maybe for the next book I might increase the amount but it is a very slow process. The text is only a couple of lines for each tree and based on an old homily or weather lore saying.

The Maple tree text, set and in position on the press and the print:

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maple-text

There are two different founts, 24pt Modern 20 and a nice chunky italic face for the Latin names of the trees which says Modern 20 Italic 18pt on the case. Who knows but it suits well.

I am painfully slow at this. Each letter and each space is an effort, often involving tweezers and a bit of swearing and even after what I thought was the utmost care I have some letters upside down and some spellings incorrect, even after checking and checking. But progress was made and by Thursday I had all the main texts printed.

Then the snag:

As I was about to print the title page text, contents and copyright texts, the top oscillating ink roller stopped oscillating which means the ink just forms lines on the roller instead of being smoothly distributed so printing had to stop. Hopefully to resume next week.
The type is just about all set… note to self don’t use 11pt again….

11.pt type

More progress next week I hope!

Friday, 2 February 2018

12 Trees Book: More Printing

Day Four: Monday: 

Today more printing of the name blocks. Having printed one side of the separate sheets we are onto the reverse. It is Monday and over the weekend I had managed to forget the position of the deckle. Rather crucial for the finished book. Only 10 wrongly printed sheets, so could have been worse! Its just a matter of learning by mistakes but hey that’s printmaking.

Printing this way needs intense concentration as every sheet is hand fed. Every sheet has to be kept pristine and taken off the cylinder at the end of the impression very carefully to avoid getting ink on the deckles. Mostly I succeed.

Positioning the paper exactly in the gripper…the right way up is the first potential pitfall:

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This one is just fine!  If wrongly positioned it will cause incorrect registration on the sheet, which then has a knock on effect on the subsequent printings.. not good.
Then comes the impression:

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Here the “Oak” print, still on the cylinder, block perfectly positioned on the print bed by Patrick and then perfectly printed by me (the easy bit). The press inks up the block as it goes which is the joy of it. There are 4 ink rollers.. and therefore 4 opportunities for ink to transfer to somewhere it shouldn’t be or for me to catch the edge of the paper in a moment of lost concentration. Hmmm.

Day 5 Tuesday

A bit of a slow day due to a problem with some ink transferring to the paper from somewhere in the press. Fixed eventually by some dismantling and deep cleaning. But today we finished all the tree name plates. Hurrahhh

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Press being cleaned… slow job.

I am printing 25 copies of the book in the hopes of achieving 20 good ones. Each sheet will have to go through the press at least 4 times.  Keeping the sheets pristine is a challenge.

At least 5 extra copies of each sheet are also printed as set up guides for the registration of the next element.

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These are my two working paper stacks. It is the whole of the edition plus the extra make ready sheets for positioning.

Day 5 Wednesday

Today we finished printing most of the small image blocks.
All the name blocks are done plus the small birds.

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The last name plate and small bird spot illustration.

Then the last small block, for the title page caused a headache due to the inconsistencies of the wood plate. The grain falls away slightly on one side which is a real pain. On the wood itself it is barely noticeable and I would not have known when cutting the ply. I might next time though!

Patrick has enormous patience in continuing to try various ways of adding packing, and repositioning the block to try to improve things. It will be fine, some things are hard won though.


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Patrick being very patient

Small strips of paper are put under the large block of low base to try to raise the low point just a millimetre. Trial and error is the only way. Tomorrow we will print it.

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My checklist of print runs completed.. almost half way.