Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lankes: His Woodcut Miniatures

Lankes: His Woodcut Miniatures, the subject of a recent series of blogs detailing the printing of the book, is now available. This miniature was several years in the making, and despite its size, cost its makers much time, ink, sweat, and occasional tears.

It's available for sale at the University of Tampa Press website in two editions: a signed, leather-bound edition limited to 75 copies; and a 200-copy edition bound in boards covered in mulberry paper. There is also the option to purchase a slipcase, either to hold a single volume, or to hold two volumes if a buyer purchases one copy of each edition.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Printing with Steve Heaver - Day 5

Work continued at high speed on Monday, the last day of Steve Heaver's visit to the TBAS. He worked with Carl, Laura, Richard, and Sean to wrap up the printing of the first sheet. By the end of the day, the second form was placed on the bed of the press, and the careful proofing and printing would begin again the next day.

About the photos 1) Carl and Laura inspect their work; 2) Carl and Laura working together on the press; 3) a buzz of activity; and 4) the second form is placed on the press.

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Printing with Steve Heaver - Day 4

Sunday was not a day of rest at the Book Arts Studio. Too much work had to be done and we didn't want to lose the momentum gained over the previous three days. Time was spent adjusting each page of text in the form, adding and removing underlay during an intensive trial-and-error process. A few lines were corrected with new castings made on the Intertype. By mid-day, it was time to print in earnest.

About the photos 1) Steve discussing a finer point of the project; 2) a marked-up page from a proof sheet showing problems with the underlay; 3) fixing the underlay; 4) the results of the improved underlay are apparent in this subsequent proof; 5) Carl resetting a line on the Intertype; 6) Richard replacing the line cast by Carl; 7) a stack of finished pages; and 8) a detail from the sheet showing a page spread.

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Printing with Steve Heaver - Day 3

Work began early on Saturday, August 1st, at the Book Arts Studio. A long series of preliminary proofs were pulled blind (without inking the form) to help the TBAS team identify issues with the packing and underlay. After addressing the most apparent problems, it was time to ink the form. A new, wide roller had been bought from Tarheel for the Lankes project, and a slab of marble served as a plate for inking. Steve demonstrated his technique for inking the roller consistently and gave everyone a chance to handle it.

Work continued through the early afternoon, and then guests began to arrive for the open house between 2 and 4 pm. More than two dozen printing enthusiasts came to observe work done on the hand press, connect with old friends and make new ones, and to get a spirited demonstration of the Intertype from our friend Henry Wehle. Among the visitors were Peter and Jeanne Meinke, Stephanie Gemperline, Elizabeth Hillman, Sue Tihansky and Jack Walsh, J. B. Dobkin, Lori Johns, Kim Cannon, Maggie Sage, Kathleen Ochshorn and her mom, Lois Touchton, Thuy Ma and her husband and daughter, Tim Kennedy, Tom Gessler and Thaddeus Root of the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, and Leland Hawes.

Some folks came from as far as Orlando and Sarasota for the occasion, but Parker C. Agelasto took the prize for longest distance traveled for the open house. He drove all the way from Richmond -- in one day! Parker wrote the notes for the Lankes book, and did a tremendous amount of work with Welford Taylor to prepare the book for publication. He didn't want to miss the chance to see the book go through the press. To augment the modest display of Lankes materials owned by the TBAS collections, Parker brought an original painting, bookplates, and gorgeous prints by Lankes for visitors to enjoy. He even brought along an original wood block loaned for the occasion by Welford Taylor, together with an original print from it, pulled on the press by J. J. Lankes. One immediately sees that reproductions do not do justice to the beauty of the original prints pulled by Lankes himself -- most of them printed on the 1848 Washington press now at the TBAS.

In addition to the original Lankes materials, the Open Studio presented a showing of fine bindings by David Barry, who will be binding this miniature book, fine printing from Steve Heaver's Hill Press in Baltimore, and an array of miniature books from the TBAS Library Collections given by Lee J. Harrer and J. B. Dobkin.

About the photos 1) Steve inks the roller; 2) Steve applying ink to the form; 3) Sean and Steve pulling an impression; 4) Steve, Richard, and Sean studying the results of an impression; 5) our friends Leland Hawes and J. Dobkin having a chat; 6) Parker Agelasto shares his enthusiasm for Lankes with Carl Nudi; 7) a few of the Lankes gems that Parker brought to share at the open house; 8) Henry Wehle holds court at his beloved Intertype as Peter and Jeanne Meinke, Tom Gessler, Thaddeus Root, and Tim Kennedy watch a demonstration.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Printing with Steve Heaver - Days 1 & 2

It has been more than a year since work first began on Lankes, His Miniature Woodcuts, an ambitious little project to collect J. J. Lankes's miniature woodcuts for the first time and reproduce them in a miniature book, with an introduction by Welford D. Taylor and notes by Parker C. Agelasto. During that time the Tampa Book Arts Studio's associates -- Richard Mathews, Carl Mario Nudi, Henry Wehle, Leland Hawes, Janine Awai, Laura Theobald, and Sean Donnelly -- have prepared for the time when they would do the actual printing. First, Welford and Parker prepared their texts and provided scans of the original Lankes prints. Then, after suitable fonts were chosen from those available on the Intertype, Henry Wehle undertook the composition. High resolution scans were coordinated and prepared for plating here in Tampa, and Owosso Graphics in Michigan made photoengraved copper blocks of the Lankes cuts. Designing the appearance and structure of the book, arranging and editing the text, determining how the cuts and text blocks would be arranged, and then carrying out the imposition of the pages turned out to be complex and demanding tasks that fully engaged the collaborative talents of Richard Mathews, Carl Mario Nudi, and Henry Wehle over much of the spring and summer.

By mid-summer of this year enough effort had been spent preparing, and it was time to think about printing. The decision had been made to print the book on the 1848 Washington press once owned by Lankes. This posed challenges to everyone at TBAS, because the press had never before been used for fine book work, the bed of the press still had signs of rust and rumors of being "dished," and none of us had much experience printing on a hand press. If the job was going to be done well, then TBAS would need the assistance of an accomplished hand press printer. That's when Richard contacted Steve Heaver.

Steve Heaver operates The Hill Press in Baltimore. Among his letterpress books are editions of "The Story of the Unknown Church" by William Morris and "The Great Litany" by Thomas Cranmer. His work on such fine productions has given him the experience that the TBAS needed to print Lankes as well as could be done.

Steve arrived in Tampa on Thursday, July 30th, and he worked with Richard, Carl, Laura, and Sean until evening, re-covering the tympan and frisket and cleaning the press.

On Friday, the platen was adjusted, packing was added to the tympan, and then the guide pins were positioned on the frisket. After all this work was done, the first of four forms was positioned on the bed and locked in the chase, and it was time to pull blind impressions to check for problems with the make-ready and packing. Once Steve was satisfied with the results of blind proofing, the form was inked, and everyone worked late into the night making additional adjustments to the underlay and make-ready. It was exhausting but satisfying work.

About the photos 1) Laura Theobald admires a copy of "The Great Litany"; 2) Laura and Steve Heaver work on the tympan and frisket; 3) Laura helps Steve attach the frisket; 4) Richard Mathews adjusts the platen; 5) Steve cuts windows in the frisket; 6) Sean Donnelly and Steve add packing to the tympan; 7) Carl Nudi cuts mylar for the packing; 8) Steve locks up the chase; and 9) Steve examines a blind impression of the form made during early proofing.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

See Historic Letterpress Hand Printing August 1 at Tampa Book Arts Studio's OPEN STUDIO

The Tampa Book Arts Studio will open its doors to visitors from 2-4 pm Saturday, August 1, 2009. Those who stop by can see guest hand press printer Steve Heaver of Baltimore at work with TBAS staff and volunteers to print the studio’s first limited-edition miniature book.

Heaver (shown in this Terry Chouinard photo doing late-night printing on his Reliance Press) is widely respected as a “printer’s printer” whose meticulous presswork is legendary and whose knowledge of the traditional iron hand press is both broad and deep. His fine press editions from his own Hill Press are sought-after collector's items, and he is a past Chairman of the Fine Press Book Association (North America). In consultation with the Hostmann Steinberg ink company he developed “Hostmann Steinberg Special Oil Based Letterpress Ink,” considered by many to be the finest ink available for letterpress work.

The ambitious project underway at TBAS is LANKES: His Woodcut Miniatures. This miniature edition will be the first-time gathering of twelve miniature woodcuts by the American artist J. J. Lankes (1884-1960), best known for his woodcut illustrations for books by Robert Frost and Sherwood Anderson, and it is being printed on Lankes’s own 1848 Hoe Washington Press that he used in his studio to print his famous blocks.

The book includes an essay on the Lankes miniatures by Welford D. Taylor and short commentary on each cut by Parker C. Agelasto, both of them noted Lankes collectors and scholars.

Not only will the book be printed on a Lankes press, but also will be bound with Japanese papers originally purchased by J. J. Lankes for his own projected use in presenting his miniature cuts, though the project remained uncompleted at his death. This printing will be limited to 200 numbered copies for sale in boards covered with the Lankes Japanese paper in a hand binding by David Barry of Griffin Bindery. An additional 75 copies will be available in a deluxe edition leather binding, with Lankes Japanese endsheets, each copy signed by the editors. All proceeds will support the nonprofit Tampa Book Arts Studio at the University of Tampa.

Printer Steve Heaver will explain the traditional process of hand printing and answer printing questions from visitors during the session on August 1. He will be joined by Lankes expert Parker Agelasto, a historian of American printmaking who has served as Curatorial Assistant of prints and photographs at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and co-editor of the Washington Print Club Quarterly. Agelasto is currently compiling the catalogue raisonné of prints by J. J. Lankes and will answer any Lankes-related questions.

Space is limited. Please RSVP at your earliest convenience to allow us to save a place for you:

Email: utpress@ut.edu
Phone: 813-257-3099

Be sure to give us your contact information. We’ll reply to confirm your spot and to send directions to the studio.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Paul Moxon Leads a Tampa Celebration of the Vandercook Press Centennial

Paul Moxon conducted a day-long workshop for eight participants, and a half-dozen friends of TBAS, on Saturday, February 28. The attendees were Denise Bookwalter, Lee Harrer, Sara Mantle, Megan Mitchell, Anne Stagg, Hal Sterne, Cat Thompson, and Jonathan Vaughan, along with Don Black, Sean Donnelly, Richard Mathews, Carl Nudi, Bob Turner, and Henry Wehle. The morning began with an introductory session at the studio, followed by Paul's presentation on the history of the Vandercook at the Macdonald-Kelce Library, and then an afternoon of printing back at the studio.

A Visit with Hal Sterne

Several friends of the TBAS made a pilgrimage earlier this year to visit Harold "Hal" Sterne. Hal has a long history in the printing industry, starting with a high school course in letterpress printing. The 1978 first edition of his Catalogue of Nineteenth Century Printing Presses was a valuable and pioneering resource; it was reissued in an expanded edition in 2001 from Oak Knoll Press and The British Library. 

Another influential contribution to letterpress printing occurred when Hal and a partner bought and preserved the name and assets of the famed Vandercook Press/Vandersons Company, and later the Kelsey Company, eventually passing the torch to Fritz Klinke and his NA Graphics. Though retired now, Hal maintains a comfortably crowded letterpress studio in a Bohemian setting near downtown Sarasota. He met Richard Mathews, Sean Donnelly, Carl Nudi, and Leland Hawes there on January 22, 2009, to give a tour and talk shop. One of the highlights, in the second photo below, is Hal's own Vandercook SP15 Press, which he once sold, only to find that it made its way safely home to his shop eventually, like "the cat that came back"!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Celebrate the Vandercook Press Centennial with an Introductory Paul Moxon Workshop in Tampa

This year (2009) marks the Centennial of the Vandercook Press.  The Tampa Book Arts Studio will celebrate it with a visit and workshop with one of the country's best-known masters of the press, Paul Moxon, shown above presenting his Vandercook Maintenance Workshop at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle.

A full-day introductory workshop will be held on Saturday, February 28, at the Tampa Book Arts Studio. Registration is $125, including materials. Enrollment will be limited to ten. 

Information is available by email from utpress@ut.edu.

The Studio also hopes to schedule a short, illustrated talk by Moxon on the history of the Vandercook Press.  Please check back for updates on that event. And to learn more about the Vandercook Press and Paul Moxon, browse