It’s not really good to wish for what you can’t have but I have to admit to nursing a lifelong and unwavering longing to have my own private press. I would produce exquisite books, printed on gorgeous papers, beautifully and lovingly bound. Short of a large and very speedy lottery win it is unlikely to happen on a large scale. Of course, I can do a little at home and still cling to hope, and just in case good fortune or a kind benefactor comes along I like to be ready. So, recently, I treated myself to a short course in Lino and Letterpress at St Brides.
Many many years ago I hand-set type, had my own setting stick and knew my ems from my pica ems. It was long ago, but stepping into the print room, with the iron smell of type, the hissing of inky rollers and the joy of working with the old, beautifully engineered presses was memory jogging and little short of bliss. The course is an introduction to working with type and image and seeing the possibilities, (which are legion) and is an opportunity to work on those presses.
The course was led with enthusiasm and encyclopaedic knowledge by Richard Lawrence. See the wonderful Pink Milk Float !
You never get as much done as you would like but I did manage to get the rook printed and set a small line of type on the Adana.
I was very short of time last week and only had an hour to cut the lino, so it’s a bold and simple image based on my previous drawing (see Some Rooks.)
At St Brides I used the time to get on with the printing. Setting type, proofing, adjusting, registration, packing and inking etc is fascinating and absorbing and using the Vandercook press was such a privilege.
Rook in preparation. Rough drawings, proofs and the block inked up.
Rooks drying…all slightly different. Two of the other course participants working hard.
A detail of the type I used, which has the characteristic chips of old wood type. It was about 3 1/4 inches high, printed once, then moved and printed as a “ghost” which shows up the texture of the laid paper.
Rook…(lino and letterpress, 11”x12”)
Lots of scope for development but a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days.