Faster, Better, Stronger

Hmmm, no, I”m not the Six Million Dollar Man, but my printing process is improving. This week I was able to lock up some 14 pt Caslon for Lynette, who is making a book. She wanted a peek-a-boo window with some letterpress type showing through. I also created a quick card for one of my students using my wood type. And then I printed several cards to share with my Rhode Island friends.

A few months ago, all this would have taken me weeks. Now I have  system.

But I know something else. I think I need a bigger press. Mine has been a great starter press, but I’m ready for more. I’m limited by what I can actually carry up the stairs to our second floor studio, and I’m limited by not knowing where to find one. You know these presses are vintage? I spend hours watching ebay, craigslist, and Etsy. I have feelers out in Colorado and Massachusetts. I know when the right press comes along, I’ll be ready for it.

Ready and broke!


It’s a Funny Thing About Hair

Untitled 2 I cut my hair last year. This spring, I cut it even shorter. But I am not happy with it.

When this happens, I get out a pair of scissors, thinking I can do a better job than my hairdresser. Which is laughable. Now I’m lopsided and asymmetrical.

Symmetry has always been important to me. I love teaching the “magic three” to emerging writers. “Isn’t it cool how you can include three parallel words, phrases, or sentences to give your writing rhythm?” I ask. They don’t usually share my enthusiasm.

I like the art on my walls to line up. And I hate my eyebrows, which don’t.

So this letterpress printing pushes me out of my comfort zone. Nothing is symmetrical, perfect, or even. The whole idea of this fascinates me since overall I’m not a detail person. I lose notes, don’t follow recipes, hate to clean, and often read over mistakes. But in a handful of ways, being even and perfect matters to me.

Recently, though, I’ve begun to enjoy the process of printing much more than the product. The rhythm of placing lines and lines of metal type back in the appropriate sections of the type case, letter by letter, size by size, becomes meditative work. Using tweezers to remove and replace an errant letter challenges me to breathe deeply and focus. Then, after all the tedious toiling, I ink card after card, waiting for the right mixture of ink and pressure from the roller. This is a small, tabletop proof press that produces one page at a time.

These days, I am delighted when I hold a finished product in my hand that shows the age of the type, the failings of the printer, and the love of the work. Imperfections in all its glory.

Now if I could only leave my hair alone.