Friday, February 17, 2006

Notes Fom A Warmer Room and Cuttering

I'm making a later start this morning after yesterday's exertions. I finished insulating, boarding and painting the end wall of the studio and one can feel the effects upon ntering this morning. Until yesterday, I only had half an inch of plasterboard to keep out the winter's cold. Now I have several inches of insulation packed between two boards. I still have one more wall to do but, for now, my fingers are warmer.

This morning I am making drawings for forthcoming bookplates. I am still catching up with older projects and looking ahead to new. My order books are closed until July and then I need to ration these projects to one a month so that I can work on other things. I do love the design problems involved in capturing something of the essence of a person in a 2" x 3" space. This morning, I hope to finish four preparatory drawings for a client. These will be scanned and emailed. If one takes his fancy then I will work on that and make a good ink drawing for further comments. Finally, I will arrive at an agreed design with appropriate lettering and then it will take its place in the queue for engraving. I have made one recent change of policy - all bookplates will now be engraved on boxwood. I have had too many problems engraving fine lettering onto lemonwood in the past. The extra expense will be worthwhile if it makes the cutting easier.

I am also sotrting through the founts of type that I have been collecting over the years. I have printed specimens of the larger display type and am moving onto the medium sized ones. J and I are planning a series of small publications. More of that another time.

Still no news of repairs to the Arab treadle press. I don't like to nag my blacksmith - he is always busy with agricultural jobs - but I have waited months. I am keeping my eyes open for other presses; I have set my heart on a larger Albion to print the larger blocks.

There is no shortage of smaller presses. Yesterday, I spent a moment lookinhg over the small Vandercook that awaits restoration. This will be a great size for taking to demonstrations as I can lift it fairly confortably. I am going to bring the Adana 8 x 5 tabletop press back into commission to print labels and, perhaps, pages of miniature books. In a flurry of eBaying, I have just bought another Adana for spares and two tiny Adanas - a job lot. More restoration work to be done, but can one ever have too many presses? What is thge opposite of decluttering? Cluttering, I suppose. Well, I clutter - always have and always will!

Monday, February 06, 2006

An Evening Reclaimed

Listening: Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris: Grievous Angel
Reading: Robert Southey: The Doctor &c - a battered 1836 1st American edition

A change of plans this evening. We were getting ready to meet with an advisor to discuss financial matters when the company telephoned and cancelled. This was irritating for a few moments but I soon realised that I was free to "follow my bliss" and head for the studio.

I am printing the BM bookplate - quite a big run. I carried on setting up the packing while chatting to A who had dropped in with a CD of the band he will be jamming with - great stuff. I started pulling proofs while we listened. The first few were very chalky and unsatisfactory and I gradually inceased the pressure by adjusting both the press and the packing. Things were nearly there and the final step was to ink a bit more heavily. At last, the good prints started to emerge. I set myself up with a pile of cut Zerkall paper and started to print.

This was one of those rare times when everything went well. I found my rhythm on the handpress and, gradually, the pile of blank sheets went down and the pile of bookplates grew. There were few rejects, but I need to look through them in the cold light of day - there will always be some to throw away. Here is a view of my setup at the end of the session:

You can see the block on the bed of the press and the packing taped to the tympan. I am using sheets of thin red card with a couple of sheets of acetate. I find that this gave the best hardness of packing. The upturned bin with a book on top was improvised to take the finished plates so that I did not have to move too much - sounds lazy, but it is important to be efficient in one's movement when a long run is underway. My inking table in the right is a bedside cabinet that I put on wheels. They lock to keep it still. I roll the ink out on a thick piece of glass which sits on some foam packing. The draws contain brayers, ink and clean rags. I cleaned up and left things out ready for the next run.

Much more satisfying than discussing finance! I am tired and ache a bit but I know I will sleep well tonight. A hot bath awaits. Posted by Picasa