Saturday, September 29, 2007

Printing En Masse

7 am - My clock radio has never failed me. Biked down to the Morgan Building, went out for a coffee and muffin run. Emma meets me at 8:30 am. David at 9. Today we print keepsakes for Oak Knoll. Packing the bed, mixing the ink, adjusting the roller height. When all is said and done it is almost 4 pm.

Back in the Addams studio, my scrap/test prints dry...

A closer view of the cream toned rag paper used on the final prints...

An even closer view of the design

(Century Schoolbook 24pt Bold/18pt Italic)...

All up in your (type)face now

(Univers 6pt)...

Casualty of the Day:

A Soiled Shirt.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Handsome Dennis, meet The most Poifect Keepsake"

The Fruit of Laser Cutter Session Three:

A Virgin Block...

P.S. Are you swooning over the gorgeous clarity of Zapfino wrenched from a grainy wood with a tiny laser beam? Are you? Because I am. I was expecting a near complete incineration in the cutter, or at least a crumbling under the pressure of the Vandercook.

These are test runs with a batch of accidental magenta ink, which I now love (Thank you, Sofie). The laser cut blocks were a bit under type-high, so I shoved a worksheet packet beneath the blocks and it was perfect! Also for these runs, please note that the blocks/type were hand inked and no furniture was packed into the bed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The First Block - post-inking, post-printing, cleaned to the best of my ability.
(Note: I forgot to reflect my file.)
Q: Do mineral spirits take years off your life?


Three printing trials with unmixed ink on Strathmore drawing paper. Note the difference in tone, coverage, and texture from hand-inking/burin (right) to letterpress run (left, center).

In Progress views of a design for a keepsake print to send to Oak Knoll Fest...

TOMORROW... Laser Cutter Session III - featuring the design for
Broadside One: Handsome Dennis!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Laser Cutter Session Two

I added a new letterform from a Nintendo-inspired font I am working on...

Today we had two trials:

NO. 6 deeper, good definition (50, 20, 150)
NO. 7 deepest, good definition (60, 20, 150)

Dennis and I decided to prepare the cut from Trial 7 for printing.

First, we wiped the sticky residue off the wood with water and paper towel. Dennis explained that this occurred from the natural moisture/oils of the wood sap. We then cut a block of appropriate size with the band saw, and used calipers to measure the height of the block. It was less than type-high, so a piece of sheet metal was cut with the band saw to the same size and adhered to the underside of the block with double sided carpet tape (temporary).

To Do:
Ink the block by hand and observe how it reacts.
Find out more detailed information about the composition of the inks I will be using.

Next, I brought in some wood type from the Print Shop to show Dennis. He cleaned and analyzed a piece of type. As he had suspected, it was hand carved from the end grain wood of a very hard maple. The qualities to look for in a good piece of wood for carving type are as follows:

Homogenous grain structure
Tight grain structure
Durable (not splintery)
Large end grain area to accomodate for curface area of carving

Groff & Groff Lumber, Inc.
858 Scotland Road
Quarryville, PA 17566
Owned/operated by friendly Mennonite folk. I am to go visit and ask for
rift sawn, clean hard maple FAS (finished all sides).
These people are "serious about wood".

Laser Cutter Session One

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dennis selected a piece of hard maple for me to practice with. We began by sending it through the planer several times to ensure a smooth, flat surface. Normally, wood type would be cut out of a super hard wood for durability. But this was just to practice.

Then to the Laser Cutter, where I learned that there are three numeric settings used to control the laser beam The "experimentation" I was going to do would occur here. The first number is a percentage of full power, the second number is a percentage of full speed, and the third was a unit equivalent to dpi for the beam. The combination of these settings determined the precision and depth of the cut/engraving.

Because creating type utilizes the engraving function, this was a slow process, as the Laser Cutter works linearly, the wood was engraved line by line (similar in action to an inkjet printer).

I had time for five trials in total.

NO. 1 only outline test (88, 3, 80)
NO. 2 FIRE FIRE (88, 3, 80)
NO. 3 FIRE FIRE (85, 10, 150)
NO. 4 a bit shallow (30, 20, 150)
NO. 5 the best yet, still shallow, minor singeing (40, 20, 150)

Session Two will kickoff at 9 am. I also want to make a new file to cut, and ask about metals.

Monday, September 17, 2007

based roughly on the lowecase "d" of Mrs. Eaves Roman. "a n i e" to be hand set along the ascender.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Firefly Press - Somerville, MA

Today I sent an e-mail to John Kristensen, asking for a visit/interview.
Anticipation abounds.
Anticipation sated.

From: John Kristensen at Firefly Press
To: Robin McDowell
Date: Sep 17, 2007 8:49 AM
Subject: Re: Experimental Letterpress Study

Thank you for your inquiry. I am always delighted to show off Firefly
Press to anyone who is interested enough to ask, so certainly, some time
when you are in Boston you must pay a visit. I should probably warn you,
however, if you don't know it already, that the only thing
'experimental' about Firefly is the ongoing experiment of seeing if
traditional letterpress printing and the traditional typographic virtues
can survive in this day and age. The answer so far is that for 26+ years
it can. Survival constitutes success.
Let me know when you will be in this part of the world; we'll set up a
time to get together.
Yours, John Kristensen

Saturday, September 15, 2007

and so it begins...

Tentative agenda

Monday, September 17, 2007
9 am - Meet with Dennis in the Fab Lab
10 am - Meet with David in the Print Shop

Tuesday, September 17, 2007
9 am - Prepare type-high practice wood block with Dennis.
10 am - Play with type, think about Oak Knoll Keepsake Project.

Wednesday, September 18, 2007
9 am - Laser Cutter Session I.
10 am - Play with more type.

Saturday, September 21, 2007
9 pm - The Mountain Goats & Bowerbirds @ Northstar (unrelated)

Monday, September 23, 2007
10 am - Let's Print, boys and girls.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman was an important man.

or rather, H.N. Werkman was a Dutch typographer. (1882-1945)

He created the magazine The Next Call. He distributed it via the bartering system with other artists and designers throughout Europe.

He had a secret printing house called De Blauwe Schuit (The Blue Barge) that published Jewish folk stories.

He was arrested and executed by the Gestapo.
His prints were confiscated, then lost to fire.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Friday, September 7, 2007

goings-ons @ Space 1026

Broadside Battle
in conjunction with...
Pumping Kill Mud Down the Drill Pipe a print show

Oak Knoll Fest XIV

Home Page
especially note:
- Our Common Press!
- Mark McMurray from Caliban Press (friend of Greg)
- Carolee Campbell from Ninja Press, coming to speak at Penn on October 4th.