Inquisitive Printers Want to Know: Extra Things That Caught Our Eye

This month’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know showcases an enjoyable animated video short “Typesetter Blues” and today’s Mars-bound InSight probe. Read on to learn more!

From Cathy: How can you not love a title like Typesetter Blues?  Enjoy this short animated video about the fickleness of love in a print shop (Fun Fact: the printer in the video is named “Harold”).

Typesetter-blues-letterpress-printing - inquisitive(photography courtesy of TOGETHER/Pahzit Cahlon)

From Rebecca:  Seven months ago, NASA sent up the Mars-bound InSight probe. Today, the probe is schedule to land on the surface of Mars. The cool little probe has the job of collecting data of Mars’ surface and drilling a hole 5 meters (16.4 feet) down.

Mars_insight_probe-NASA(photography credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The data will be able to help scientists understand the creation of Mars and its geological landscape evolution.

Graham Judd: A New Zealand Printing Gem

Cozied in the north shore of New Zealand is Birkenhead – a suburb of Auckland that offers gorgeous beaches, picturesque vistas, and the hidden gem that is GTO Printers.  Graham Judd was able to take a minute to talk shop with us about his trip to the Ladies of Letterpress last year, falling for printing on day one, his cozy (but efficient!) garage-turned-shop, and gearing up to create more workshops to spread the love of letterpress in New Zealand.

FAMILY AND PRINTING LIFE I grew up in a small country town in New Zealand, had a happy family life, the middle child of five. My dad was the local radio station manager and mum sang a lot in local operatic shows, so we were brought up with music and social activities in our home. We were sent to the local Baptist church and there I made a decision to follow Christ at age 17. This has influenced my journey in life ever since. I moved to Auckland with my wife in 1975, and we are still here. We now have three adult children. They all love what I do, but all have their own careers outside of printing.

FALLING FOR LETTERPRESS I left school with few qualifications and no idea of a career, but a friend who was a compositor in a local printing company suggested I look at an apprenticeship in the printing trade, which I did. And I loved printing from day one. My apprenticeship was as a letterpress machinist, training on Heidelbergs mainly, platens and cylinders. I later retrained on offset as letterpress was phased out.

NEW ZEALAND WONDERS Up until January 2018 I have been leasing a small building in the local area where we live, and I think my ‘apprentice’ Christina kept our local coffee shop in business with her mocha purchases. The situation changed and it was the time to move the business home. So now I have a small (one car garage size) area that houses most of my equipment. I’m allowed a bit of extra space in the real garage for paper stock, and I have my old Albion press at the local library. My print shop is typical, with the Heidelberg 10×15 platen and Polar guillotine taking most space, then a small stone, galley rack, ink stand, work bench, a type cabinet with my wood type, and that leaves enough room to take one step to get to anything! It works well, I can’t buy any more stuff, which is probably good!

MENTORS + INSPIRATION My basic training was done a long time ago, I’m now at the stage of life where I’m passing on my bad habits to others. But people who come to mind that impress me with their work are Jenn at Starshaped Press, the lettering of Jessica Hische, and the work of local printer Tara McLeod who would be New Zealand’s most experimental letterpress printer. In my trips to USA the things that really stand out have been visits to Hamilton Wood Museum, the International Printing Museum in Carson, Edes and Gill Printing Office in Boston, the Crane Printing Plant, and of course our visit to John at Letterpress Things in Chicopee.

DESIGNED FOR PRINT I am really a printer only, very dependent on artwork being supplied by clients. This possibly means I miss out on some jobs that won’t get past the designer/printer shops, but it does mean the job is ready to print when it gets to me, so the decisions that can make a job hard work are all done. It does mean that designers that have pushed the limits of what letterpress can do in their design, give me challenges on the press.

FULL TIME FUN I have run my business full time for nearly 35 years, that included offset and later digital machines. I was fortunate to go through the period between letterpress and digital, when offset ruled, and there was a lot work for a small commercial printer. Now that I am nearing the end of my professional career, I am ok that work is slowing a little, but I still love inking up the press whenever I can.

PRINTING FEATS In 2014 I printed a set of art prints for a client, which won me the supreme award in the Pride in Print Awards in New Zealand, the best of the best printing for that year, beating all the big offset and digital boys in the country. I thought it should get some recognition when I entered it, but was delighted and amazed that the judges put it at the top. That was pretty cool. I have trained up two ladies who have both set up successful letterpress businesses in New Zealand. I am very proud of both of them, and proud to think I had a small hand in their success. I feel the printing trade has been good to me, and am happy to give back as I can.

PRESS HISTORY The first press I purchased was an AM Multi 1250, a small offset press, back in about 1982. By 1987 I had replaced it with other offset presses, and got me a brand new Heidelberg TOK that year. My first letterpress machine was an Adana 8×5, purchased in about 1995 I think. That was about when I got a desire to dabble in letterpress after a 20 year break. I purchased my Heidelberg Platen in 2008, and that’s when I got serious about commercial letterpress again.

BOXCAR’S ROLE Living in New Zealand means I have had little to do with Boxcar Press, only seeing the name pop up regularly on google searches for letterpress stuff. Meeting the boss and Maddie and others at the Ladies of Letterpress convention in 2017 was great. I was most impressed that Maddie was willing to dive into the press to pull out all the rubbish deep inside! Getting the ink into your blood is a prerequisite of a dedicated letterpress printer!

SHOP TIPS My experience is mostly with Heidelbergs, so one thing I reinforce is, for new operators, set up and get the feeder running consistently before inking up the press. If it’s not feeding well it’s just adding to the battle of getting a good job done.

WHAT’S NEXT There are opportunities to run more workshops, both beginner letterpress and Heidelberg platen workshops. I have a plan to set up a mobile printshop, visiting schools, libraries, and events where I can share the letterpress experience. I’m on the lookout for an ex-ambulance or similar. And for a while yet continue to run my little print shop as a profitable and happy place!

A world of thanks to Graham of GTO Printers for letting us take a sneak peek into his New Zealand printing world!

Inquisitive Printers Want to Know: More Extra Things That Caught Our Eye

Keeping our eagle eyes on the look-out for intriguing and cool things, this month’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know highlights Lori Schneider (a woman with Multiple Sclerosis who has scaled  the “Seven Summits”), the wealth of information at letterpresscommons.com,  as well as a very beautiful look at global weather patterns. Read on to learn more!

From Cathy: Recently, I was fortunate enough to hear a talk by Lori Schneider, the first woman with Multiple Sclerosis to climb the “Seven Summits” of the world.  Here she is in a Ted Talk at TedXGrandRapids.

The Seven Summits are the highest peaks of the seven continents.

Listening to her describe her Mount Everest climb sparked a strong curiosity about this particular mountain and sent me searching for all sorts of information.  What I learned was equal parts awe-inspiring, eye-opening and a little beyond belief.  You can Google and find hundreds of articles but this How Stuff Works article is a good introduction to how daunting it is.

Next, I paid a recent visit to Letterpress Commons, specifically to view any of the new videos added since my last look (and to view some of the others again).  There is a wealth of info shared by others on “The Commons”, so it’s highly recommended that folks putter around at the site every few months to see what treasures have been added.  And if you have a tidbit or more to share, check out how to be a contributor.

From Rebecca Taking global weather pattern views to a whole new level is the Earth.Nullschool.net website. This handy website displays in real time the current wind, temperature, and CO2 levels. You can zoom in and twirl the globe to different locations worldwide to see how different weather patterns are moving.

It’s very fascinating (and beautiful!) to see how the Earth’s oceans and landforms effect one another.

Have something nifty or cool that you’d like to share with us? Let us know what it is in the comments below!

Flourishing Creativity with PRESSDD

Braiding her cross-disciplines of graphic design, web programming, psychology and a love for minimalistic & organic design, Giorgia Katerina of PRESSDD creates beautiful letterpress pieces with panache. Having come by letterpress from a curiosity to know more about the printing tradition, Giorgia has woven into her bespoke creations a love of floral motifs, her great eye for detail, and welcoming warmth. We talk shop on her next adventures into a custom line, the joys of finding zen in her press room, and the exciting feeling of accomplishment when an ink run lines up just perfectly on the press.

RENAISSANCE WOMAN Obtaining a degree in psychology, I originally envisioned pursuing something in this field. Shortly thereafter, I came to the realization my love for design was stronger than that of psychology. As a result, four years ago I started out as a freelance graphic designer and web programmer. Now, I specialize in bespoke wedding stationery. 

GETTING HOOKED ON LETTERPRESS  My journey into letterpress was very unconventional. With a background in graphic design, letterpress was the last thing on my mind. Always looking for design inspiration, I started noticing beautifully printed pieces. Curious by nature, I became eager to learn how to make stationery pieces. As a result, I became hooked on letterpress!

PEACEFUL PRINTSHOP My press room is my personal oasis, complete with no distractions … just me and my press. First and foremost, the accessibility of my press room is second to none. Connected to my home studio, this gives me the flexibility to print at any given time. In this room, you will find a Chandler and Price 12×18 press. In addition, I have a Kensol 27T (which is not part of my studio). Complete with no distractions, just me and my press!

BEAUTY IN THE BUCKEYE STATE I’m based in Rocky River, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. A picturesque little town where coffee shops and restaurants are all within walking distance.

FINDING THE CREATIVE VEIN As a self-taught printer, with no true print mentor I find my design inspiration comes from minimalism and organic elements. With a passion for exploring various textural elements, I love how letterpress can create a beautiful, deep blind impression.

PART TIME PRINTING, FULL-TIME FUN As a stationery designer, and a part-time printer I always look forward to press days … as it gets me up and moving, and away from the computer! 

EFFECTIVE AND FLORAL INFUSED DESIGN  As a designer, I like to keep things simple and modern with a touch of organic elements. I love working with florals. Whether it is scanning them to use as background images or sketching them for the press. Similarly, I like to incorporate elements of old-school romance in my work. My favorite period is the French Renaissance!  

PRINTING FEATS My clients are second to none, and I absolutely love working with them and helping bring their vision to life. Simply put, there is no better feeling than being able to give my clients a bespoke letterpress wedding suite designed and pressed specifically for them.

PRESS HISTORY As a perfectionist, and having spent countless hours on any given project, my first print job was such a rush! I had just started as a full-time freelancer … and my first assignment was a wedding suite.

BOXCAR’S ROLE First and foremost, I want to give a shoutout to my girl Rebecca, who was a dream to work with! She and Boxcar Press have saved me quite a few times during the plate making stages. From helping me stock my studio with all the essentials (like everything in my shop … and outside of my C&P and type) to being an excellent printing resource in my times of need. Needless to say, I was lost without the help of Boxcar Press!

PRINTING TIPS My biggest frustrations is setting up a registration for a run. I have spent countless hours measuring, and remeasuring just to ensure the plate is in a perfect position. My advice, print a digital copy of the plate design using the same size sheet of paper you’ll press. Next, tape the plate over the print and transfer it to the base. This will help you save time, and will minimize the number of hours spent measuring (or remeasuring).

WHAT’S NEXT There are a couple big plans on the horizon for PRESSDD. Most recently, I’ve reintroduced greeting cards into my printing repertoire. In addition, I will also be looking to expand my wedding stationery and will be releasing a semi-custom collection.

We here at Boxcar Press would like to give a huge round of applause and thanks to Giorgia Katerina of PRESSDD! We’ll keep our eyes peeled for what she cooks up next in the print shop.

If you would like to be one of Boxcar Press’ featured printers, please complete the Printers Profile questionnaire.

Inquisitive Printers Want to Know: More Things That Caught Our Eye

Always scanning the horizons (and our internet browsers) for intriguing and cool things to bookmark, this week’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know showcases the Austin Center for the Book’s amazing workshop offerings, horse-riding librarians in the Great Depression era, and two handy websites that help identify that mysterious typefaces & fonts. Read on to learn more!

From Cathy: I have been enjoying a little stroll through the pages of the Austin Book Arts Center website.  The Center has only been around in its official state since 2015 but was a growing idea since the 1980’s through a group of enthusiastic book workers.  They offer an amazing wide variety of workshops every week and I am drawn to the ones for teachers and kids.

Combine women, books, and horses into one bundle and you get the Pack Horse Librarians.  Started in 1934, over 50,000 families in Appalachia were served with books delivered on horseback.  This program was started as part of the New Deal’s WPA and books and magazines were donated.  When they became too worn, they were repaired or turned into scrapbooks and circulated again. Here are two websites with fascinating stories and photographs. In this age of E-books, it is neat to read about a time when books were scarce treasures.

From Jake:  The printshop offers many wonders when wandering through on a daily basis. The photography captured here shows the light spectrum in all its rainbow glory in the wash-out unit in one of our platemakers. 

Jake-inquisitive-printers-platemaker

From Rebecca: Ever come across a design with such a gorgeous typeface or font….but you don’t know what the name of it is? For both computer and mobile,  WhatTheFont is a great starting point to demystifying that font that’s been on your mind for ages. WhatTheFont is a site where you can snap a photo (or upload one if you are working on your computer) and the online program will start identifying what it may be.If you are into a more answer-questions-type-of-mood, a secondary good website is Indentifont.

Have something awesome or cool that you’d like to share with us? Share with us what it is in the comments below!

Inquisitive Printers Want To Know – Even More Eye-catching Things

Keeping sharp eye on the lookout for more cool things & intriguing “must-bookmark-this!” items, this week’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know features a Wisconsin-based printer and bookmaker, a new specialized coating that is the “blackest of the blacks”, and a celebration for a book series that inspires one of our printers. Read on to learn more!

Cathy:   I recently found a website with a blog that pleased me.  It is called Letterpress Book Publishing and it belongs to Mike Coughlin of Superior Letterpress of Cornucopia Wisconsin. He calls himself a Printer and Book Maker and his blog reflects on his love of his profession. His posts are comfortable and friendly.  He hasn’t posted since December 2017 so I am hoping some new visitors to his page will prompt him to give us something new to read.

He is at the tip of Wisconsin before it drops into Lake Superior so come “chat” with the rest of us, Mike, and let us know what is on your mind or on your press.

Rebecca Miller: While we do love a good, deep rich printing black (a printer’s bread and butter), we often wonder about Vantablack.

(Photography credit: Surrey Nanosystems)

Hailed as the “blackest of blacks”, this is borderline cartoonish-ly black coating is neither really a pigment nor paint per se. Instead, the specialized coating (made by Surrey Nanosystems) is made up of series of long, extremely tightly packed (and quite microscopically thin) carbon tubes. So dense is this “forest of carbon nanotubes” that any light shined onto it is immediately absorbed (99.96% to be exact). 

The very precise need for those densely packed carbon nano tubes to be laid in a certain way limits how the coating can be applied. Currently in the works is a not-as-dark version in a spray variety aimed at the STEM community (and it will set you back a pretty penny).

Bonus: The “Vanta” in Vantablack stands for “Vertically Aligned Nanotube Array”.

Leanna: Happy Birthday, Harry (July 31st)!  I have been a huge Harry Potter fan since it was introduced to me by my fourth grade teacher. It was subsequently banned from the school a couple months later, so I had to sneak it in my lunchbox to read during break. Over the years since last book and film were released, I took to mainly searching Pinterest for fan art and periodically listening to the audiobooks while I work in the shop (and people wonder why I’m tearing up at the press, it’s cause I’m listening to Snape die for the 100th time!).

(Photography courtesy of monsieurmonsteur.co.uk)

Did you know that 2018 is one of the years in which the book ‘The Cursed Child’ takes place? According to the timeline, Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is 1991. The Battle of Hogwarts is in 1998 making the “19 years later” of the epilogue of ‘The Cursed Child’ to be in 2017. Weird right? Now imagine the movies taking place in the early 90’s instead of the 2000’s!

In honor of Harry’s and J.K. Rowling’s birthday today, here are a few of my favorite Harry Potter things to inspire a bit of “magic” for their next print project! 

Artists to Check Out:

Wonderful Potter-related Articles and Exhibits:

Do you have a cool thing you’d like to share with us or see something that tickles your printing fancy? Email us at info@boxcarpress.com as we’d love to hear from you! We’re always on the look-out for fun + wonderful things!

Letterpress Passions with Puro Papel

Join Boxcar Press on this “adventure of a lifetime,” as we get a first-hand look at Miami based printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel and find out how she brings the heat when it comes to passionate letterpress printing. Best known for her vibrantly colored projects (both printing and non-printing) discover how Catalina’s worldly travels inspire her work, creativity and how she shares this printing tradition with her local community.

Catalina Rojas sets up her Pilot Press for a new letterpress print project.

LIFE’S ADVENTURES & LETTERPRESS  We all have a starting point, an origin. In many cases, they shape and determine the type of person you become. I was born in an area that was rooted in the Catholic faith and traditions. While this was my origin, the dialogue I have with myself, I believe I don’t come from a place … more so, I come from a way of life that was instilled by my parents.

My parents were travelers and never ceased to seek the zest for adventure. With two kids on the hip and a Great Dane, they were never deterred by what others might think and managed to stay true to their “hippie-chic” ways. At one point, my aunt and her boyfriend joined our entourage and many people would confuse our family for a circus troupe.

Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel prints on her Pilot Press.

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.

During my first five years, we traveled through South America. Quite literally, through the roads less traveled by. Zigzagging through cities, towns, forests, plains, deserts, and jungles. However, there was one significant life trip that would determine how I would experience life, my sense of self and ultimately my creative process.

All the details and memories of this trip come rushing back … like having bananas for breakfast, or crossing rivers in long wooden canoes and sleeping in hammocks. I remember feeling the heat from the bonfire and seeing the ashes flying and floating like dragonflies. I remember hearing the speaking drums and the chanting.

All of these things on the trip seemed to me like a lifetime and an irrevocable art of me … despite the fact that neither my parents seem to remember it in full detail (and color) as I. They would even go as far as saying that trip was rather uneventful. This trip shaped how I look at life – I live in adventure and in meaningfulness.

My work is an inextricable part of my life. I take every assignment as an adventure, in which I try to discover essence, textures, tones, colors and other delicacies. To later bring together these elements and materialize them in a simple design, or concept.

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.
(Project Notes: Norton Box- Vineyard in Mendoza. I did a limited edition of 30 boxes to send to  30 journalists  with a bottle of wine, some postcards of the winery (belly band is letterpress), a wooden note from the president of the company (letterpress), a leather notebook, and the press kit).)

Every project, I take the challenge of telling a story by communicating its purpose through design and artisanal ways of printing. I believe life is an experience made of a small act, where the beauty of small details grounds us and turns each moment in a unique ritual.

THE PRINTING BUG  I took a class in Parsons, and my teacher was a typography designer and a letterpress printer. After several trips to his studio I was bit by the letterpress printing bug. I fell in love with the technique of letterpress printing and how this could take printing to a higher level.

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.
(Project Notes: Leather Book (covers are letterpressed), Accordion book – A family gift for a Portuguese grandmother! )

MIAMI MARVELS  I have a tiny studio, with more windows than walls, located on a sunny corner of Miami Ironside in a bucolic garden. When I first saw this space, I knew it was “the one,” due to all the natural light coming in during the afternoon, I felt this space was going to illuminate me. WIth the natural light and the abundance of windows … I feel like the garden is part of my studio. Behind the studio are train tracks, and several times a day, I can hear the train pass through. Next to the studio, is MiMo (AKA: Miami Modern) a neighborhood that is bringing to life the Art Deco hotels and restaurants of the great era of the Magic City!

Catalina Rojas sets up her Pilot Press for a new letterpress print project.

PRINTING INSPIRATION Although he probably doesn’t know this … my first inspiration was Peter Kruty, my professor at Parsons because he taught me how to respect typography.

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.

FULL TIME PRINTER I became a full-time printer in 2004 after I bought my first letterpress.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS  My creative process starts with a conversation with my clients, so I can understand the essence of the message. With each project, I design every aspect and incorporate elements and details of the message into their piece. I like to think of what will surprise me … because it will most likely surprise my audience, and will help keep it innovative and fun!

Book arts and fine press printing by letterpress printer, Catalina Rojas of Puro Papel.
Project Note: Don Perignon Party invitation- all digital and lots of assembly! This gentleman was turning 80 and celebrating in style  with family and friends in his hacienda in Argentina. The cork top part opens to reveal a message)

PRINTING FEATS When a project evokes magic, emotions and becomes a conversation piece, I feel accomplished. When I’m at a moment that it feels close to my soul, that is when I know I’ve achieved “good-design.”

A beloved Pilot Press awaits for the next printing adventure in the Puro Papel studio.

PRESS HISTORY  I still have my first press(!) which is a C&P Pilot press.

BOXCAR’S ROLE  When I find a good vendor, I stick to it! Throughout my years of printing, Boxcar Press has come to my rescue. Whenever I have a rush job, they are always availble to help and save me. There is a sense of loyalty to one another, and I feel they are a part of my team. 

PRINTING TIP  When you don’t know something, ask your colleagues! And if they are not around, don’t be shy to experiment!

SHOP TIP Mmm, I don’t have any particular one, I just know that when it gets very frustrating and it doesn’t work out, I let it rest and start again a few hours later.

WHAT’S NEXT  I want to focus more on doing limited editions and special packaging.

I also love to give back by sharing my passion and expertise with paper. This year I’m involved with missionaries in the desert of Peru who train people in disadvantaged communities on how to make handmade cotton paper. This wonderful community and its artisanal workshop, Papelera Don Bosco, has a letterpress machine, so I will be teaching them all I know about letterpress and box-making so they can fly high!

An immense round of appreciative applause out to Catalina for letting us get a sneak peek at the magic behind Puro Papel!

Inquisitive Printers Want to Know – Things that Caught Our Eye

Those of us here at Boxcar Press are a searching, probing, questioning bunch of folks.  We are drawn to many things creative, fascinating and colorful.  Letterpress definitely fits those criteria, so we have to believe all of you out there are like-minded as us.  It should be no surprise we discover through reading and listening and yes, emails from you, a goodly number of interesting stories that are parts imaginative, informative, and just plain neat.  We are sharing folks too.  Every other week, we endeavor to pass on to you a few bits of knowledge that have caught our eye and think you might ooh and ahh over as well.  So, here goes…

From Cathy:  A video on a German papermaker that is hypnotic and soothing as you watch him at his craft.  

From Norway, the Future Library – An incredible story of a forest that was planted in 2014 and in one hundred years will be harvested to make paper to print 100 books written in that time period. The part I particularly like is that they are also preserving a printing press and instructions to operate it, in the event that books may not even be printed on paper in 100 years.  I think a letterpress machine is perfect for this and have pondered which press might be fitting. The whole undertaking of the Future Library fascinates on many levels.

haunted press in Toronto, Canada
(photo courtesy of www.printcan.com)

And for fun, an amusing story about an alleged haunted Washington Model printing press in Toronto Canada. in the home of a newspaper editor.  Perhaps he has a deadline to meet.

From Rebecca:  Graphene is a technological marvel to watch out for as it is on the fast-track to revolutionize the medical, construction & safety, and art realms. This material has been documented as being 200 times stronger than steel, yet lighter than paper. Here’s a fascinating “how it’s made” video to pique the mind and jump-start new ways of utilizing this material. Maybe one day the mighty graphene will affect the way printers of all disciplines use their machines in new creative ways?

Next, we’ve been following letterpress printer Tristan Rodman for quite a while on his experiments with letterpress printing and creating playable paper records. Tristan has been keeping a log of his experiments and perhaps with a few more tweaks, letterpress can pave a way for a new way of sharing and collecting musical masterpieces.

Bonus: Although a few years old, listening to the first 3-d printed record album still gives us goosebumps as the needle hits the plastic. We find it a fine choice to honor Nirvana with this intriguing new way to braid new 3-d printing technologies with old school craftsmanship.

We hope you explore some of our links and perhaps learn a little bit more about what interests us here at Boxcar Press.  Email us at info@boxcarpress.com the things that delight you also!

The Art of Printing: Prose, Song, and Poetry to Entertain Those in the Trade

Who doesn’t love a rousing, good ditty, or a clever, snappy poem with a wicked twist of words?  And what better than an ode about your favorite topic – printing – written by and for printers?

We recently found a digital copy of a poetry book about printing from 1833.  Turning the pages makes you feel like you are at a comfortable British pub house a couple of hundred years ago, raising a glass with inky nails, saying, “Have ye heard this one?”

The title of the book is Songs of the Press and Other Poems Relative to the Art of Printing, gathered by T. Kirk, Printer of Nottingham, 1833.  It is available for download at www.openlibrary.org.

One of the gems we found included a curse or censure by a printer who called down mayhem on his colleague.

Printing Prose Song and Poetry: Vintage pressman illustration(illustration courtesy of Briarpress.org)

The Poet’s Anathema by R.S. Coffin

On a printer who had displeased him.
May all your columns fall in pie,
Each chase be gnawed by rust;
Weak, weak as water be your lye,
Your cases filled with dust.
May all your sticks untrue be made,
Your frames too high or low;
No page upon the stone be laid
Where it should rightly go.

Printing Prose Song and Poetry: Book an Job Printers Illustration(illustration courtesy of Briarpress.org)

How about a song on the Origin of Printing by Dodd, in particular, one that praises good printing and the demise of hand-copying.

Aided by thee, the printed page
Conveys instruction to each age;
When in one hour more sheets appear,

Than Scribes could copy in a year.

An anonymous poet captured that moment when a printer gets what he is looking for…

Printing Prose Song and Poetry: Printer's Kiss poem

Print on my lip another kiss.
The picture of thy glowing passion;
Nay, this won’t do— nor this — nor this —
But now — Ay, that’s a proof impression!

One more thought to give some perspective on what it meant when you held a book in the 1800’s and the nice thought that countless of our fellow fine press printers still handle many of these tasks themselves.

The following twenty-two occupations are engaged to produce a single book (circa 1873):-The author, the designer, the rag merchant, the paper maker, the stationer, the type founder, the press maker, the ink maker, the roller maker, the chase maker, the reader, the compositor, the press­man, the gatherer, the folder, the stitcher, the leather seller, the binder, the coppersmith, the engraver, the copper-plate printer, and the bookseller.

Are you inspired to pen your own sonnet or lyric to printing?  Send us your verse in the comments section below!

In search of the perfect printing ink – why not do it yourself?

Letterpress printers have many tools at their disposal, such as presswash, line gauges and quoins. Not the least of these is their favored printing ink. Broach this subject with a group of printers in person or an online forum and most can hotly debate the one they can’t live without.

(photograph courtesy of coloranthistory.org. Those interested in purchasing a 13″x19″ archival poster print can reach out to Andy here. )

Yes, we are going to step into that debate and ask specifically which black printing ink do you hold in high esteem but before we do that, we want to entertain you with an article from a book that gives the recipe for making your own.  Looks pretty simple to us but you decide.

The sage instructions of experience come from this book found on openlibrary.org

Six Hundred Receipts, Worth Their Weight in Gold by John Marquardt of Lebanon, PA.

Turn to page 75 – Receipt No. 138  How to make Black Printer’s Ink.

“Printers’ ink is a real black paint, composed of lampblack and linseed-oil, which has undergone a degree of heat superior to that of common drying oils. The manner of preparing it is extremely simple. Boil the linseed-oil in a large iron pot for 8 hours, adding to it bits of toasted bread the purpose of absorbing the water contained in the oil; let it rest till the following morning, and then expose it to the same degree of heat for 8 hours more, or till it has acquired the consistence required; then add lamp-black worked up with a mixture of oil of turpentine and turpentine.

The consistence depends on the degree of heat given to the oil, and the quantity of lampblack mixed up with it; and this consistence is regulated by the strength of the paper for which the ink is intended.

The preparations of printers’ ink should take place in the open air, to prevent the bad effects arising from the vapor of the burnt oil, and, in particular, to guard against accident by fire.”

If one receipt isn’t enough, another is available on page 264 , No. 597  An Excellent Printing-Ink.

Balsam of copaiva, (or Canada balsam,) 9 ounces; lampblack, 3 ounces; indigo and Prussian blue, each 5 drachms; Indian red, 3/4 ounce; yellow soap, (dry,) 3 ounce. Grind it to an impalpable smoothness. Mix with old linseed oil. “

In case you are wondering – the drachms is a unit of weight formerly used by apothecaries, equivalent to 60 grains or one eighth of an ounce.

Letterpress printers, as a group, seem to be interested in trying new things for their art, so we hope that these two recipes might get a try-out or two from someone.  However, it is also fun to note that within the 598 other receipts in this book, you can also find a recipe for peppermint cordial, a cure for the bite of a mad dog, and treatment for scabby heads on children and toothaches.  

Back to our original question, we truly are interested in hearing about your favorite black printing ink, either ones you have used in the past and can’t find anymore or one you use everyday.

Tell us in the comments below!