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.

View more photos on our Flickr account:

1 comment:

Matt Jarvis said...

Mr. Mathews,

Great to see the 1868 Hoe Washington handpress looking so good.

Look forward to seeing more postings and photographs on handpress printing from your wonderful program.


Philip Jarvis