I’ve been having a great time getting to know my new press. I’ve been practicing inking both the wood type I bought and the magnesium cut I purchased from Oswosso Graphics on a variety of paper types. I knew this would take time, and I’m loving every minute.
To make the cut, I copied some lyrics from Graham Nash’s song Our House. Adobe Illustrator lets me outline the type (and place or design graphics if I want). Then the file is sent to Oswosso. A few days later, I get a magnesium cut mounted on wood that I can set in the press. The possibilities are endless.
What I don’t like is cleaning up. I’m using baby oil to give everything a first rub, and then I swish some mineral spirits on the brayer, type, and roller when I’m finished. I’m also struggling not to get ink on the paper in odd places as I set the type. Because my press has an adjustable roller, I can raise and lower it to get the kind of imprint I want. In the process, I’ve managed to put my fingerprints in random places, which of course ruins the print.
Next weekend I hope to drive to Charlottesville to St. Brigid Press to pick up a Hamilton cabinet and some furniture. I’m so excited to see Emily’s shop, which sounds amazing. And she’s a poet. I can’t wait to visit.
I still need metal type, a composing stick, and some leads and slugs. I’m sure this won’t be the end of the list…
But what a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.
I haven’t talked much here about my meditation practice. I started more than a year ago, working to still my mind and provide space for quiet.
A kind friend started me with Sharon Salzberg, which helped quite a bit. Then I moved to group meditation, online practice, and –then I stopped. Yeah, I’m a quitter from way back. But I recently read 10% Happier by Dan Harris, and I realized I missed those quiet moments. Tonight, David and I attended our church’s mediation practice. First we did 10 minutes and then 15. Let me tell you, that’s a long time.
But finally, I was able to calm down and sit. I’m so glad I participated.
Last night, our studio hosted a local authors’ reading. I loved hearing the various styles. And we had a full house. We haven’t had a physical place to encourage writers to gather. I’m hoping this grows in manageable ways so we can continue to be a home for like-minded people.
Finally, my press. She’s beautiful. I’ve managed to print a couple of practice things, but this week I should be able to set up a time to produce some cards and posters. I love the ink–getting my hands dirty–and creating. Ah, letterpress.
I visited with some friends recently. We talked about how much we like the saying, “We are all walking each other home,” which is attributed to Ram Dass. And though my first thoughts upon hearing the quote go to how I try to live my life, the words also ring true in my work with writers and my own writing.
I’ve ordered Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work, not because I want to put myself out there. But because I don’t. And yet, I love the idea of community and sharing.
That tension has pulled at me for several years now. The sub-head on Brain Picking’s story about Austin’s work caught my eye: How to balance the contagiousness of raw enthusiasm with the humility of knowing we’re all in this together. I love one of the quotes from the book that she cites:
The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others.
I’ll be doing that here as I get started with letterpress. The press is sitting on my living room floor right now, waiting for a friend to help me carry it up three flights and screw it to a table. I’ve ordered a magnesium cut, some ink, and some magnets–all of which I’ll explain as I go through my first print job.
Who knew at my age–I’d discover a new passion?
Actually, I’m not surprised. I love to learn. And I’ve loved typography since I first explored it on my Mac in 1987, when I advised a school newspaper. Without a design background, I’ve struggled. But even that can be studied.
And, now, I’m about to buy my first press, a letterpress Morgan Line O’ Scribe. After a only a few letterpress classes, I am a neophyte for sure. But I can’t wait to bring it home and get my hands on it.
I spent a lovely week in Turks & Caicos, reading, writing, and sleeping.
My poem “Abandoned” has been accepted by Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue 10. The journal is one of my favorites, and I am thrilled to be included.
We may have had our last snow for the season.
Switching to an “anti-inflammatory” diet hasn’t killed me yet, though I do miss sugar.
I’m testing a Morgan Line-O-Scribe press this week and hope to bring it home. Expect letterpressed cards from me soon.