West of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and northeast of Sacramento is the beautiful city of Lincoln, California. It’s home to the Creative Beasties Workshop and printing abode of Danny Rhoades. The garage-turned-printing haven features the thrum of a Heidelberg Windmill on which Danny creates his latest colorful creations. Danny throws open the doors to give us a tour of his studio.
EVERCHANGING WORKSPACE The workshop is in the tandem portion of our garage. I had a bunch of fluorescent tube lights installed to give better lighting. Other than that it’s pretty sparse. We tried to finish it with some texture and paint but we didn’t know what we were doing and made a mess. Then we decided just to leave it half done because we ran out of time and had to stop for equipment delivery.
THE HEART OF THE SHOP My favorite thing in the shop is my Heidelberg Windmill. It’s the heart of our workshop and is what makes all of our letterpress projects happen.
SIZE OF PRINT SHOP It’s right around 288 square feet. 14’8″ x 19’8″
CALIFORNIA NEIGHBORHOOD Our house backs up to a highway, so our backyard view is a 20 foot sound wall. We’re in a recently developed suburban family neighborhood.
TYPE OF SHOP I’d actually really like to open my shop up to community printers and let them use my equipment to allow budding printers get started. However, I don’t know how to make that happen yet since I’m worried about the legality of it and if it creates any liabilities or risk which I’m sure it does.
THE PRESSES We rely on our Heidelberg Windmill 10×15 press from the late 70s to print all out letterpress projects. We also have some digital printers, a hobby laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and a heat press.
MOST VALUABLE SHOP TOOL There’s so many things I rely on heavily, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with my oil can. It really makes maintenance a breeze.
FAVORITE INK Van Son Rubber base inks are what we use. Current favorite ink color is probably Orange. I used it in a split fountain test run along with Purple and it really took me by surprise how nice of a color it is.
SOLVENT OF CHOICE We took Boxcar’s advice and use California wash. It seems to do the best job overall. We’ve also use odorless mineral spirits from time to time along with a roller wash we got from a local distributor, but usually come back to California wash again due to its reliability.
PLATE AND BASE OF CHOICE We use a Boxcar Base system, of course, along with KF95 and KF152 plates depending on the job. We’ve been using this system since inception in 2014.
OIL OF CHOICE We use Mobile DTE Oil Heavy.
WHAT TYPE OF RAG DO YOU CLEAN UP WITH We use Scott shop towels and white cotton rags that we cut from t-shirts.
PIED TYPE No type, we do everything on photopolymer.
ORGANIZATION ADVICE I keep all my packing materials in a drawer pre-sorted by weight for easy setup. I do the same with pretty much all my materials, but that’s the best example.
PRINTING ADVICE Spend the time to line up your plates on the Base. If you’re careful, you can save a ton of time on press.