Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ned is up and running!

Stephen and Gayle with Ned
Stephen and Gayle Quick from Weathervane Press in Ottawa joined Fran├žois and me for lunch on Thursday. Stephen helped to calibrate my new 8x12 Challenge Gordon Letterpress while Gayle hung out in my calligraphy studio. It was an absolutely marvelous day. Stephen was able to work on the throw-off lever and get it mostly working, as well as raise and level the platen for me. I was worried about trying to do this on my own and am very, very thankful for his gracious help in getting Ned up and running.

 I have been having a wonderful time learning about my press since they left. It inks up beautifully. The rails had to be taped, as most older presses, in order to get 3/32 stripe on the roller gauge. After about 10 strips of tape I had the 3/32 stripe and was ready to try and pull some prints. My good friend Rhonda came over to check out the press and arrived just in time to take some photos!

My old prop card form
It has simply been AMAZING to have Ned up and running. I have pulled proofs of the standing type from my former "prop" card.  The term “prop” is short for “proprietor,” stressing the individuality of the private press owner and operator, exercising freedom of the press. The prop’s card, or prop card, is akin to a calling card and contains all the pertinent information about the press and the proprietor. It is normally printed on a 3"x5" card which can easily be filed in a card box.

Type form on composing stone
Composing the type for my new prop card has been a real challenge. I decided to try some of the type that came in the Hamilton Cabinet Morris gave me with the press. I selected a font called "Bradley" and began to set the type in my composing stick. When I transferred the type to the stone, it became apparent that I did not have enough of the proper spacing material to make the form lock up tight in the chase for printing.  My goal for the week is to reset this form and pull some good prints.

I am very pleased with the impression I am getting with the press. I have adjusted the packing several times for different cuts I have in house and have had no difficulty getting clear even prints. It is early days yet, and I have so very much to learn, but it is WONDERFUL to have the press working at last. My head is swimming with ideas for projects! I will be patient and gentle on myself, however, and try to learn the proper composing procedure. I am working at keeping my press room tidy-makes it easier to find tools and materials when you need them.

Yesterday I went to Canadian Tire to get my jug of Hand Cleaner and a good stainless steel garbage can, and found one on sale! The hand cleaner is amazing for getting ink and grease completely off your hands at the end of the printing day. It is going to take a while, but I am starting to feel like an apprentice printer again! I have this small poster hanging in my studio that came from The Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA. My goals for being able to print are not to be a truly "fine letterpress printer" but rather to use the type and the press creatively to produce collage printed images of the alphabet for my books. It is going to be a spectacular journey, and I am enjoying the first steps!

My press is nicknamed Ned in honor of my teacher, and my friend, the late Father Edward Michael Catich, the world renown expert on Trajan Letters. Before Father was a priest, he was a signwriter and sometimes trumpet player in Chicago, where he picked up the nickname. He game me my nickname, Sadie, when I studied with him. I thought since he too was a letterpress printer early in his career I would name my first standing floor press after him.

It has been an amazing week here in the Grotto Studio. The snow is starting to melt, we have had some rain, and the flowering bushes that surround our home are beginning to show the tiniest of spring buds. Life is returning to the land. The air smells sweet and damp in the mornings and the redwing blackbirds are signing their song. My heart soars like a hawk when I think about the abundance that has come into my studio with all the materials and equipment that has been brought to me. My creative verve is soaring high, looking towards the sunrise, ready for the new day, with new challenges and work to complete. I look to celebrate this creativity by opening my heart and my hand to those around me who also wish to create and to share.

I know in my heart that through God's great gift of creativity and joy, my understanding of UBUNTO (I am a human being because  belong. I participate. I share.) will grow stronger, and that all will be well, and all will be well, and with the grace of God's holy spirit within us, all will be well.