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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