Dissed at Christmas

The holidays have proven an ideal time to catch up on chores around the studio, including dissing (or redistributing) a great deal of type back into the type cabinets. As for most chores, I work on top of my press, which is not an ideal height for dissing, but I can sit on a stool which drops me down a bit.

Set up on the press for dissing type.

As I write, near three days of dissing is almost complete, with almost every bit of type I own properly put away. It’s not a job I love, but it has its satisfactions, and I try to find the zen in it.

One of my favourite books on printing is ‘Printing Poetry – A Workbook in Typographic Reification’ (Scarab Press, 1980). Calling it a workbook makes it sound like an old shop manual: that could not be further from the truth. Burke has the true soul of a poet, and he brings that sensibility to his discussion of printing… but many invaluable shop tips along with the profound insights.

On dissing type, he writes:

“The key to type distribution is your mental state. As long as it’s seen as unpleasant, distributing forms gets put off until it is no longer an integral part of making one book but a hindrance and a burden to the creative process of making the next. […] I’m not expecting that you’ll actually welcome the task, but if you can learn to see it as a kind of capping off of the work, as a release from the intense concentration on the vision of the growing book, you may come as I did  to see distribution as a calm time between books.”

I keep these words in mind, while I mind my p’s & q’s.

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