While painting the family room windows last week while Melissa was out of town, I wondered how many other noxious fumes I could fill the house with. So I brought up the original delivery and feed boards from our letterpress in the
garage studio (darn it!) and gave them a few coats of gloss varnish with a foam brush.
The wood is riddled with deep crevices – which is either charming, or evidence they ought to be replaced – depending on how you look at things like that. Regardless, practicality dictated that they needed to be sealed to keep dirt and ink from eventually getting on the paper that sits there after its journey through the press.
They now have a shiny new skin that should last for years to come… and in their role as the first impression for anyone standing before the press, I think they do their job admirably.
Above, the smaller delivery board (for blank paper) and feed board (for the printed stack) in their original state. Below, a detail of the hardware and the second coat of gloss varnish drying.
Each time the platen closes, this little brass tag peeks up at you from the grime and peeling paint. It’s a tiny remnant of elegance from long ago, and reminds the user that this machine was built for artists.
It’s been a few long days, Abridgers.
I’ve spent more time hunched over our letterpress – frozen in perplexed frustration – than actually printing. My mood last night was particularly dismal; I discovered that regardless of how perfectly I adjust the platen surface, there’s some kind of thump halfway through the movement of the clam shell that is knocking the whole thing back out of alignment. And it’s completely random, happening with no rhyme or reason.
I’ll certainly need to address that; it’s likely something I didn’t put together correctly or tighten. However, after spending today in the garage refreshed and at least aware of the problem, I was able to get enough of a feel for the machine that I decided to start put ink to rollers and finally begin printing.
Melissa’s sister (and her fiancé) planning to mail out all 90 invitations on Monday, so not starting until today was dicey and left little room for error. In other words, I was really hoping for a favorable ratio of good prints… to goofs. With my clunking problem still continuing to plague me, I was nevertheless able to crank out around 20 good impressions for each throwaway. And dammit, that’s good enough this time around.
Here’s some of the process and a peek at the results at the end of one very long, very green day. Tomorrow we’ll start all over, printing the remaining elements in the charcoal color…
Above, the photopolymer plate has done its job, creating 50-odd place cards. Below, 100 invitations sit on a makeshift drying rack.
Went down to the
garage letterpress studio the other night, and remembered that I haven’t done anything about the concrete floor, which gently slopes to a drain in the back. Even though all four feet of the press are firmly on the floor, I pulled out a level and sure enough, the right side was a half inch below the left side.
So yesterday morning I called a local metal fabricating studio here in Evanston, and within just a few hours they’d pulled together some scraps of 1/8″ steel I could use as shims. I’ll need a bit of help tilting the press up as someone slides these in place, but we ought to have a nice, level surface to print on this weekend.
Next up? Well, I picked up the printing plate last night from our beautiful little local letterpress studio, Evanston Print and Paper, so now it’s on to mixing the custom colors for the invitations.