Sunday, December 18, 2016

Poetry commission underway

I have the privilege of working on a beautiful letterpress poetry commission at the moment. It involves poetry and I plan to do a single page of poetry, with two colours, and a cover.

Whilst I had set aside Saturday and Sunday of printing, I was lucky that there wasn't too much booked in for Friday as well, as I took several hours on Friday to start setting the type.

 This is the first large piece of work I have done really - and I discovered so many thing I need! I need a lot, a lot, of spacers. They are the metal bits you put between words and then some larger bits that fill out your lines so that you have a nice rectangular block to lock up. I need these spacers in each size of type I am using – in this case 18pt and 12pt.  As well as in 24 pt for between the verses and 36 pt for between some of the lines.

 I also need lots of lead line spaces as well - and luckily I had bough a box of them one time not really knowing why, and also a lead cutter so I could cut them to size! So Friday was a very long day of trying not to panic in case I didn't actually have enough of the things I needed in order to fulfill the order.

 It also feels different because the words and work are precious and special; and because I am getting paid for it as well. Extra reasons to try and get it so right.

Here, as I begin, you can see how many spacers I needed to fill out the lines - I used to think it was all about having enough type!

I had a moment when I realised the polymer plate of my calligraphy, to be used for the title, was actually much wider than the body of the poem. It seems you can't remember everything when you're learning. It worked out OK tho.

Beginning setting the type for the cover

And so to proofing!  I LOVE proofing. It shows you where the ink is going as well as all the mistakes you have made and gives you chance to fix things before printing for real. Here are some fun mistakes along the way.  The actual polymer plate, not just the lettering, was picking up ink - eek.

Nothing like an upside down letter or two. Or a mischosen letter or two!

Right at the end of the longest line of type, one word wasn't picking up as much ink. It  may have been the rollers were slightly imbalanced or the plate had moved a bit, but the easiest solution was to build the word up a bit from behind with some double-sided tape. Worked a treat.

The end of Day 1 printing using the stairs as drying rack. And why not I say.

And then because I hate to waste ink and there was a lovely grey still there on the plate...

I didn't even unwrap the type that I keep tied up. I didn't set it in the Adana or the Lightning Jobber. I just placed it onto the bed of the proofing press, rolled it with a roller, popped the cards on top and printed.

Very rudimentary and not particularly precise, but it did the job in the 15 minutes I had. I soooooo didn't want to have to clean up another plate and set of rollers just to play with these cards, so this was a good solution!

Next steps - printing the second colour and the cover...


  1. when i was printing last year there was SO MUCH to pay attention to, and funny mistakes, and not-so-funny mistakes...congrats on a big job!

    1. oh yeah Velma - being self-taught at home in my own space with only my own stuff I keep learning! Loving it tho - the mistakes can be funny or seriously not funny, but so far so good!

  2. Replies
    1. Yes Mo - more, more ,quiet beauty and peace!


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