Progress on Graven Images

We’re back now from a successful show, where I sold a Vampire book and distributed several copies of the Graven Images prospectus. There is strong interest in it, so I’m glad to be back on the press again.

Working on the next page of text in the printing line-up made me glad I took a break a week prior to the Wayzgoose. I’ve just spent the last two days struggling with a form that holds two columns of type, situated on the press close to the top of the bed. Initial proofs – to check for typos and other errors – showed a wild variance in the impression. Now, I know my press, and years of wear have resulted in a slightly lighter impression close to the top of the press bed. However, I have compensated for that with sheets of make-ready tissue buried under the packing on the cylinder. All to no effect. I inked up the press Tuesday thinking I would be printing the run in the afternoon or early evening. No such luck. After many proofs, and a few corrections to the text, I still had issues with many of the sorts in the form – individual pieces of type that were worn, nicked or damaged. I replaced probably a dozen letters, then ran the page late yesterday afternoon.

This morning, after a good nights rest and with fresh eyes, I looked more critically and found another fifteen or twenty questionable sorts that could have been replaced as well. Ideally, this is supposed to happen prior to the press run, not after. However, I took the time to locate the offenders and remove them from the form, if for no other reason than to prevent them from getting mixed back into the fount to cause trouble later. Proactive, but not perfect printing. I’m not excusing myself when I say that some of these weak character deteriorated during the run; the careful pressman is supposed to be watching for such happenings, but they are very hard to see with small type.

Al that being said, two layers of make-ready tissue under the lighter blocks of text did wonders, and the overall print run worked out well. This type of make-ready is called underlay, with pieces of tissue laid under the type. Usually, underlays are for large cubic areas of type that can be leveled up uniformly; overlays placed under the packing are used when trying to isolate oddly shaped light areas. Doing underlays with a lot of type on a flatbed cylinder press takes time. The type has to be moved from the spot, the tissue carefully placed then the type replaced by lifting one or two lines at a time and setting them on top of the tissue. Sliding the type around will cause the tissue to bunch or rip. Lifting type in and around a flatbed is a risky proposition. Twice while doing this I dumped a line, had to scoop up the mess, sort it out and reset the line – fortunately very minor accidents that wasted no more than 15 or 20 minutes together.

Today I’ve set up a smaller block of type, situated further down the press bed, so it will be interesting to see how it prints, likely tomorrow. I’ve proofed it using a brayer (hand roller) and it looks good.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Letterpress printing, Typography

One Comment on “Progress on Graven Images”

  1. Marie Says:

    Larry, I know this was a month ago, but reading it gave me tight shoulders. What a labour of love (and stubbornness and determination and talent.)


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