SFSA Makers’ Emporium Christmas Pop-up 2014

pop-up shop

So we’re finally all set up and ready to go down here at the Craft Central gallery in Farringdon—the display looks good with a range of letterpress and multi-colour linocut cards together with matching gift tags. Festive indeed! I urge one and all to check out the inspiring creative offerings on sale from myself and 16 other designers from SFSA … get your hands on them while you can!

Holly linocut: stage two

The final colour is now printed. Each subsequent colour takes longer to dry than the last, so had to wait a few days before they were ready to package. Interesting result—spurred on to do the next design. A print run of 60 in total, on Olin Natural card stock, 150 x 150 mm

Holly linocut: stage one

Started work today on another Christmas card—a layered colour lino print. After carving the lino based on a quick sketch, I printed two shades of green in quick succession. Amazing how the second colour brings the design to life.

Festive letterpress

The christmas pop-up shop I’m participating in this year in Clerkenwell is fast approaching. Simultaneous with learning how to print on the Vicobold, I also need to produce a series of prints for the first week of December. Crumbs.

To start things off, my first design includes some letterspaced Bembo caps and some festive borders cast from hot metal on a Ludlow  caster by Matt McKenzie at Paekakariki Press. Rather than use them as traditional borders, I’ve placed them in blocks to create a festive patterned texture.

Each card is 150cm square and comes with it’s own ribbed kraft paper envelope. Printed in red/green/black letterpress ink on rough textured Cotman watercolour paper, 350 gsm.

Creasing rules

My new tool for creasing card stock—works a treat! Although the process is explained simply enough in the steps above, actually fiddling with the correct alignment takes far, far longer than you might think. The crease has to be exactly in the right place to fold the cards square. Got there in the end though and sure beats creasing by hand. Certainly appreciate the versatility of these old machines—you can even die-cut and perforate if you ask it nicely!

First off the press

I’ve recently christened the press with ink and printed the very first official job on the Vicobold. This is a momento of thanks to all those people who’ve helped me get this far.

The image originated from a pencil drawing I made of the Vicobold conveted to metal plate; the type set on the reverse is a mixture of Bembo and Octavian metal type. Black letterpress ink on Starfine Natural White paper stock, 300 gsm. 210 x 148 mm

Colour linocuts

Most of my linocuts to date have been single colour prints. Only a couple have involved two colours; the key block is cut and printed first and then a second block is printed in registration to add another colour. Basically, an elaborate colouring in exercise.

A more exciting use of colour however, is the process of layering several coloured blocks to create a totally new, combined image … one that may not be fully understood until all the necessary blocks have been printed in situ.

This requires a totally new thinking process as you cut the blocks—still trying to bend my brain around it! I’ve started with a simple image of a letter ‘a’ as an icebreaker. If anyone would like a print, drop me a line.

Press has landed (finally)

Fast forward a few months and the press finally sits behind me in the studio, cheerfully ignorant of how awkward it had been to coax it up three flights of stairs from a basement plus another set into its first floor home.

This involved stripping the machine down completely which, while not ideal, at least tells you a lot about how it all works. It also affords a rare opportunity to clean in those hard-to-reach places, although since being re-oiled and greased up again you’d barely notice anyone had bothered. Presses are happiest when rolling in their own filth apparently.

A special thank you to all those who helped me to dismantle, move, reassemble and get the press printing again—a massive team effort all round. Now to concentrate on putting it to good use.

Meet the machine

The Vicobold: a vintage parallel impression printing press

So here it is—my ‘new’ parallel impression platen printing press—sitting patiently in its former home awaiting the weekend along with all the fun and games moving it out of its current basement-level situation and into my first floor studio. Despite some attention needed to fix the ink duct mechanism and a missing oscillating roller (necessary to spread ink evenly across the machine) it appears to be in good working order.

The next few weeks will probably result in far more fiddling, tinkering and head-scratching than ink on paper, but such delights are reserved for future blog posts. Right now, this feels like a brilliant idea. Exciting stuff!

I’ve been using and collecting letterpress equipment for a little while now, but acquiring such a machine makes me feel that it’s worth documenting my exploits into letterpress and relief printing—guess you never know where these things may lead.