I covered pages of my sketchbook with possible designs for the title of the book. Finally, I chose a simple layout with decorations relating to the oak tree. The text included a few words in italics;
Clearing away the wood is a very time-consuming affair. There is no satisfactory way to speed this up, in my opinion, but there is good practice: use a round ended scorper, keep it very sharp indeed and only clear for a few minutes at a time. Even with boxwood, a sharp tool will cut through with little effort, especially if one makes small cuts, rather than trying to plough a furrow across a large area of the block.
Again, I decided to have part of the decoration breaking out from the "frame" of the block; this called for more careful clearing.
Finally, I engraved leaves on the sinuous line withing the border of the block:
Before proofing this block, I started to cut another. This one contains three separate texts that will be separated before printing. As usual for black lettering, I marked out the text and engraved round it:
Gradually, I cleared around the text. I spent two full days on this block.
The engraving light show the marks made by the round scorper very clearly. The ridges would pick up ink and show as black lines so I need to lower the whole surface even more:
Finally, the block is ready to proof:
I cut the block into three pieces using a framing saw. Two of the three pieces were combined with the title to make the title page. Here they are on the bed of the small Albion press:
I used my normal arrangement of a clear plastic file fixed to the tympan on top of the make-ready. This holds the paper. You can see the windows cut into the file - the blocks print through these, keeping the surface of the sheet clean.
The final result:
All of the printing is now done. Yesterday, I worked the handpress from before 8am until after 6pm and then engraved through the evening until just before midnight. Today, I trimmed paper and then printed from 9am until 5pm. This evening, I checked and folded yesterdays sheets. I am now going to mark the folded sheets ready to make the sewing holes. I plan to stop at midnight so that I can make an early start tomorrow - sewing day!