Setting type on Graven Images

Work has begun on setting the text of Graven Images. Sometimes when I set my own words in type, it makes me cringe. Anyway, it’s has to be done. In retrospect, I could have prevailed upon some of the wood engravers I know to write the foreword, but it is outside of the budget. I’d rather commission a contemporary wood engraving to go beneath the Foreword or beneath the colophon, but same budgetary problems. Anyway, production is under way again.

With the prints finished, and the pages designed digitally, the next step is converting the bits and bytes from the electronic ether into cold, hard metal. So the press, with its custom table top, is converted into a typesetting station:

Press transformed into typesetting station. (Too low though...)

California job tray in the foreground holds the type (12 pt Italian Oldstyle) and right behind it is a plastic drawer case holding copper, brasses, thins, and some of the smaller lead spacers that are essential to typesetting by hand. Just to the left is a plastic bead tray full of larger word and letter spacers, the copy, a composing stick and a flat, steel galley tray to hold the lines in form after I finish them in the composing stick.

Next, I print out and review my copy, and use the software’s ‘find’ feature to search out conjoined letters, i.e ligatures (ff, ffi, fi, fl, ffl) and dipthongs (st, oe, ae, ct).

No mistakes. Not yet. Copy highlighted up to show ligatures and dipthongs.

Then set some type and take a quick hand pulled proof, ‘cuz I’m not sure if 12 pt will work fully justified in this narrow a column. Work well, that is.

Hand proof of first take on text. The drop 'W' is a placeholder.

Word spacing not as bad as I feared. I finished the paragraph (a long one – 22 lines) only to realize that I used ’19th’ century up in the third line when proper usage requires ‘nineteenth’. Because the form is in full justification, it requires a reset. In the process I discover a couple of other minor errors, so it is worth the effort. This is why I keep the bible beside me when I set type:

The Bringhurst Bible

And at last, the first paragraph complete. Hopefully it is readable — WordPress seems to crunch all my images down quite small. Click to see larger version:

The first paragraph, flipped in PS to read right.

I’m waiting for a type order including Italian Oldstyle in 30 and 36 point, which will pave the way for the drop cap. If it doesn’t come on time, well, I’ll have to substitute from another font, or talk a certain calligrapher into doing it by hand. ‘;->

Owosso Graphic shipped the halftones and line work that had to be rendered digitally yesterday. They cleared customs today, so I might have them tomorrow.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Book Making, Letterpress printing

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