Pondering Reorganization

I knew from the beginning that it would be a challenge, and in many, many respects, it has worked out far better than it could have.

It’s not that I’m printing in an exceptionally small space: compared to other private press printers, I’ve got lots of room. A decent bench with lots of drawers, and space beneath for type and paper. A variety of cubby holes and spaces for the multitude of odds and ends required for printing. A huge drawer in a large antique storage cupboard for storage of prints. A reclaimed kitchen cupboard for solvents, cleaners etc. For the most part every space gets used. And yet, the space is constantly cluttered by homeless detritus that moves around from space to space as work requires. So, I’ve begun examining my space and how I use it.

The turn-of-the-19th century canted work bench, 10′ long with 6 drawers, replaced a kind of hodge podge of tables and surfaces I had before. It came originally from a Brockville bank, but we acquired it from the offices of The Upper Canadian, the antiques trade newspaper where I worked as an editor, so it has some sentimental value as well. It is more or less the same size as the press, and the two pieces run parallel with an aisle between. Beyond these behemoths is a narrow aisle to the door, and beside the door, the paper cutter. And that’s pretty much it. I have the “house” font, Italian Oldstyle, stored in a case under the stairs to the loft, and another 2/3 width type cabinet holding odds and ends which backs onto the back of the work bench. Here’s a quick sketch:

Looking around and thinking about what sort of material floats around homeless, I come up with a few items:

1) frames. A fair bit of work that I do on the press involves framing the prints I talk about periodically on this blog. Now, all the equipment needed to do the framing has a home, but I lack safe places to store frames. Currently, they are tucked here and there: small ones in the reclaimed red kitchen cabinet beside the press feed board, and others as shown (click thumbnails):


The frames are wrapped in plastic bags to protect them from dings and scrapes.

Frames really do need a home.

2) Rags and bags: I clean the press with rags, and no used rags are kept in the studio. I keep clean rags in a steel container that is kept in a cavity beneath the press feed board, and a bag of plastic bags used for disposal of rags hovers in the area, usually just crammed in with waste paper. (shown in image at top of blog)

3) Paper: there are three types of paper. The first, clean large sheets intended for printing or other art purposes has been solved when, almost a year ago, we acquired a couple of large, steel map drawers. I still keep extra paper stored under the work desk. The second type, and more problematic, is waste paper, or printer’s waste, which is the accumulation of proofs and tests made prior to running an edition. Like a farmer’s manure pile, printer’s waste is essential and requires management, and having a good pile (paper, not manure!) ensures less waste on all projects. Right now, the pile teeters precariously beneath the far end of the work bench. The third type: paper work. Mail. Shipping. Notes. Files. Books.

So, in surveying the problems, they don’t seem overly insurmountable. For starters, I’m setting up an office space in the old house, which will hopefully remove business matters from the press area. However, I have to fight my own inclination to consider that space as my universal work space.

Over the next while, I’ll blog about how I intend to solve these three problems at least, and other organization solutions for the press room.

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