Thursday, September 29, 2016

My first & loveliest Albion

when in Wellington recently I was kindly shown over the Wai-te-ata Press at Victoria University of Wellington by Meredith Paterson - the Press has for some years housed this Albion handpress which I secured under the ownership of the Alexander Turnbull Library back in 1979 - according to Reynolds Stone in his writing on Albions, this one dates (because of the specific fulcrum action when the handle is pulled) to the early 1830s, tho the handle itself has a date of (I think) 1861 or 1881 - in any event, a lot later - I printed several books on this wonderful press, and I still regard it as the best press I have ever worked with - the photos were kindly taken by Dan Tait-Jamieson of Moana Press, Wellington, and of The Printing Museum there - anyone who thinks one cannot get a bit teary over a chunk of old cast iron, should think again -

Friday, September 2, 2016

Letterpress in Townsville

just three days after returning to Melbourne from New Zealand I went off to Townsville in Queensland to spend a week with Sheree Kinlyside and her husband Alan ('a festival of Alans') to share some of my letterpress experience with Sheree. I introduced her to damping paper for printing, and some refinements in hand-setting type and inking. Like most letterpress practitioners in Australia and New Zealand who are mostly self-taught, there are often small things we don't ever pick up until we are shown by someone else. I still recall vividly a day in Eastbourne, New Zealand, when Bill Wieben, who had grown up in his father's printing business, showed me a few things about getting a decent result on the Arab treadle platen I was using then. It changed my printing life forever, and yet each thing he showed me was in itself quite small and detailed. That single day lifted the quality of my printing immensely - 

Sheree's press is a Farley proof press, which is not the most precise of machines, tho it does have an excellent impression adjustment mechanism which is very useful. Over the week, we printed three pieces, one a short poem by a local poet, one which is the border to a poster yet to be completed, and another is a small group of two-color electrotypes she has in her collection, and which will form the basis of a book she will design and print 'in due course'. In the meantime I will be writing a group of short poems to go with each of the images, and Sheree will write an introduction -

here are three images taken on the poster border - inking up a mix of Reflex Blue and Opaque White (a mix I discovered many years ago and have used a lot since) - 

the next is inking up the second color of the border - 

and the printed result. A glimpse of the first color on its own can be seen at top right -