Home and Jane

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This Jane Austen quote appeals to me, but it was a friend who asked me to make a gift card for a friend. Shhhh, that’s all I can say at this point, and I can’t reveal the back.

It’s fun to be challenged to learn new things– like printing on the back of the card, which means lining up everything.

My next challenge is two-color registration. Stay tuned!

The Itinerant Printer

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Fredericksburg can be a lonely city when it comes to letterpress printing.

This is one reason I am so excited that Chris Fritton, The Itinerant Printer, is coming to visit for a few days.
We’ll get to talk about printing, his travels, and have a chance to see his work. I plan on learning all I can from him. And we’re having a Meet and Greet so you can learn, too.
Here’s more from his website:

The Itinerant Printer will visit letterpress printshops across America throughout 2015 & 2016, producing unique prints at each venue culled from their idiosyncratic collections of wood type, metal type, cuts, ornaments, and polymer plates. These prints will be mailed back to followers and supporters of the project as postcards (and care packages) from the road.

The project intends to capture the spirit of the analog revival, send real samples of it into people’s mailboxes, and convey the ethos of the handmade to a broader audience via social media, and as a culmination, result in a coffee table book that features photos all of the prints, printshops, and people from the adventure.

It is also about reviving that sense of adventure in printing, along with the analog sharing of information. It’s about going out into the world, seeking work based on your skill set, making something with your hands, and delivering that object to someone. It’s about an exchange of ideas, of techniques, of information, of style, and of the consummation of all those things: prints.

Chris Fritton is The Itinerant Printer – check out his full bio here.

For more on the history of Tramp Printers, check out the info here, or just peruse this poem by Robert W. Service:

A Race of Men

There’s a race of men, that don’t fit in
A race that can’t sit still.
So they break the hearts of kith and kin
And roam the world at will.
They range the field and rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far –
They are strong, and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of things that are
And they want the strange and new.
They say, ‘Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make.’
So they keep on going and each new move
Is only a fresh mistake.

– Robert W. Service

 I know. You can’t wait to meet him, right? Stop by Water Street Studio on Feb 26 between 5-8. We’ll be printing, talking, and we’ll have refreshments, too.

“Printing…is the preservative of all arts.” Isaiah Thomas

 

The Waiting

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One of the benefits of getting older is realizing that one has less time ahead than behind. I am beginning to come to terms with that.

The other realization is we can’t wait to “be picked.” Actually I learned this almost 12 years ago, when I first began finding and then creating community online. Nearly every opportunity I’ve had– professionally and personally– has been because I reached out and said “why not?”

Whether it was starting my running blog in 2004 and finding myself in a solid community of supportive runners, or reaching out to an online teaching community and spending years learning and growing together, these moments when I say “pick me” usually result in a fantastic experience. Most recently I made a connection with Mary Anne Radmacher, and we are going to partner on a small project. As Mary Anne says, “everything is possible.”

Not every opportunity comes to fruition. But that’s ok, too. Because if we never try, we may wait forever.

I’ve not always been the first to put my hand up. As an introvert, my tendency is to hold back and hope someone finds my work. But over the years, I’ve been able to put my discomfort with being discovered aside. Rejection isn’t easy, for sure. Nor is failure. But I know if I want to move in a certain direction, the only one who can get me there– is me.

It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you–that Prince Charming has chosen another house–then you can actually get to work. ~Seth Godin

 

Figuring It Out

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Getting a clean print from my Golding Pearl #1 can be challenging. I thought I’d learned her secrets.

But, oh no. Yesterday and today made me scratch my head, take a break, and rethink the problem.

You can see the image on the right is blotchy. I assumed a packing problem, so I spent time changing thin to thick paper under the Tympan, even trying a piece of printer’s blanket I’ve ended up with. Some improvement, but not good enough.

Next, I tried more ink on the disk. Logical, right? Nope, I still couldn’t get a good print. After playing around for several hours, I decided to head home and try again this morning.

The first thing I did was to take the chase out of the press and try inking it by hand on the proof press. Bingo. That told me I wasn’t getting enough ink from the rollers to the type. I’ve had to remove and add tape to the rails many times, but this time I took it down to nearly nothing and printed. With the rollers getting closer to the type, it worked!

Why my other  metal type didn’t need so much tape removed is a mystery, unless– this type is fat, and the wide letters don’t print as well on my press? I’ve been using much thinner, lighter type recently, and I think that’s the difference.

The print still isn’t as clean as I’d like. My sweet little press isn’t great for getting solid prints from wood cuts, either, though. To get this ornament to print, I had to put the chase back in the proof press and print it separately. Plus the uneven texture of the print indicates my platen may need adjusting again. I haven’t had to do that for over a year, but I’ll consider that soon.

When I first brought her home, I struggled to get any good prints. A friend then told me to relax, that it would take a year at least for me to get to know her. Ha, he was right! I do love the problem-solving. And I’m also ready for a bigger press. I guess I’d better get ready for more of that :)

And people wonder why I only print a handful at a time…