Thursday, July 14, 2005

Into the Type Cave

Over fifteen years ago, I bought the contents of a small print workshop. It was a modest collection of old worn type and other odds and ends but I always wanted to print letterpress so I went ahead and made my purchase. An immediate problem was storage.

I made good use of much of the type in the early 1990s when I made small books for my own "Isle Handpress". After that, the type just sat there as I concentrated on developing my wood engraving. I have recently renewed my interest in letterpress and I have acquired small amounts of display type. However, I was short of larger amounts of founts suitable for text.

Recently, I have been told that the room that I teach in is being refurbished. I have been going through the room and its cupboards and throwing out the accumulatiuon of twenty-five years of clutter. I pulled out a tall cabinet in a walk-in cupboard and felt the same delight as Howard Carter must have done on first looking into the tomb of Tutankhamun - twenty-five cases of type that I had salted away like a squirrel. Here were old friends: Blado, Albertus and Cantebury. Best of all was the discovery of many cases of Melior and Times Roman - enough to get me started on setting text.

I have been engraving "If He Be Dead" for V&A. I started by very very carefully defining the tones on the face and now, exilerated and relieved that things are going well, ripping through the wood for the shirt. Great Fun!

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