The Spire by William Golding
The History of The Siege of Lisbon by José Saramago
A Revolution of the Sun by Tim Pears
Street Fonts by Claudia Walde
Not really. Just a bit of print frenzy going on! I’m really enjoying the process again!
This card began when I rollered out some very pale and transparent ink directly onto the card, leaving roller marks and deliberate inconsistencies in coverage. I did not photograph this for some reason.
I set up some wood type again and overprinted the background with a brighter, but still transparent green.
You can see the backgrounds clearer here:
When this was dry I made some adjustments to the type and locked it all back up again. I then mixed up some custardy yellow, also using plenty of transparent extender…
And another then another overprint…
Deliberately out of register to give a slightly 3D effect, but really trying to make the most of the transparency…
A couple of days later I got around to real reason for these prints – a new block purchased from eBay!
This time a very deep red was mixed and the Adana 5-3 was primed and put to task…
That is one hell of a flat fish!
Well? It’s a genuine request!
This is my new toy. I’m very excited. Almost as much as when I bought my first SLR second hand in 1986.
I used this K1000 for about 15 years until the repairs became too frequent and expensive. I’ve had other Pentax’s since, as well as a Canon, a couple of Nikons and a Fuji. I hope this one lives up to its promise.
I’m ready to start getting a fresh coat of paint onto my new press. It’s original colour was green and probably brass laquer, but is now a rather murky green and rusted brown…
In order to get the colours right, I decided to create a simple vector illustration to test out different schemes. Of course, this being me, I didn’t stop at a simple vector, and this got a bit more complicated!
After this mildly obsessive diversion, I got down to business. I have had a bright postbox red in mind for some time so this is where I started:
The full red was obviously too much, so I considered silver to co-ordinate. I eventually opted for black as it gave the press a more serious feel, rather than the flashy silver.
I also need to make an upper platen too, and am on the lookout for suitable materials…
I have had the urge to do something with some of the script typefaces that I have. Palace Script is commonly used for wedding invitations and the like, and for me, no matter what it says it will always look like it says ”Mr & Mrs Brian Dingleberry request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Deborah Edith to Mr David Windermere Winkle…”
However, the actual metal type itself has other fascinations, particularly in its physical construction, from its delicate linework and overhanging kerning to its engineered twist in the body. In the image above, the body of the type takes on an almost architectural appearance reminding me of the supporting legs of some cast concrete motorway bridge. The image below shows how the twist is necessary for the highly slanted script to fit together snugly.
It is actually very difficult to set this type – remembering that you are working upside down and in reverse, and whilst the size of this type is 18pt, the x-height is less than 2mm!
Once the text was set I went rooting through a number of little boxes of type that I have but never used, and found this box of unused 6pt border patterns!
The final forme looks like this:
You can really see the kerned elements overhanging in these shots…
And what does it all mean?
I love to see swear words set in Palace Script, don’t you?
I have been working on a combined linocut, wood type and metal type print recently. I bought this great little block a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it a go. I made a couple of quick sketches before I started, but quickly got down to carving a lino block so I could get the first colour down:
The lettering here was traced from a test print I made of my wood type:
And printed in a calm pale blue…
The steamroller block just looked interesting on eBay – I liked the size too – not too tiny, but not so big that I wouldn’t be able to use it alongside type in size of presses I have.
I mixed up a really thick murky green…
And the prints began to emerge…
I set up the rest of the type in Rockwell Bold Shadow – ALL CAPS! The image below shows the type locked up into the forme:
And I mixed an astonishingly vulgar shade of pink too – using plenty of extender to give it some transparency – I wanted it to darken a bit on to of the blue:
I also printed the Lestaret moniker on the back whilst I was at it!
And like kippers in a smokehouse, they hang up to cure!
Yeah, baby! Steam power!
I recently bought a copy of the film ‘Making Faces’ – a documentary about the Canadian type designer, typecaster and printer Jim Rimmer (who sadly died before the film was finished.) I have watched it three times already!
Jim was one of those types of people who the words passion and dedication are often used to describe, and rightly so. His life’s work had revolved around typography in some way. He has been involved in just about every stage in the design, development, manufacture and distribution of type, as well as being an accomplished graphic designer (commercial artist back then) and letterpress printer. In short, he is the kind of bloke I’d like to have a beer with, and to work with!
The film shows the development of a new typeface “Stern” from the original drawings with a marker pen, through several detail variants (watching a lower case g being revised and redrawn is a bit like type porn!) and into the pencil line developments.
Not that Rimmer was completely tied to the past; once drawn the characters were then ‘scanned’ into a (rather old) computer using an odd plotting device that draws vector points much like Illustrator does, to create an editable glyph.
Further critical developments and refinements are done here, but the real design work was done with the marker on paper earlier.
Rimmer demonstrates the process of converting a computer image into a finished size matrix (mould) using a pantograph, a mechanical scaling device invented in the 1600′s and (non-laser guided or jet propelled ) mechanical milling tools:
It is then a matter of casting the individual letters using molten metals.
Incidentally, it is worth mentioning here that ‘Stern’ is the first typeface that has been specifically designed and produced for metal type and digital release!
Rimmer is naturally enthusiastic and very knowledgable (there are plenty of additional scenes included of some of the less edited interviews ) and he comes across as someone who has long known that his approach had become outmoded and a little archaic, but didn’t really care much because it worked for him. I also got the impression that he was wondering why it had taken so long for people to get interested in these processes again.
Well, we know now. The old saying that “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” sounds very true. This guy didn’t stay in the past. He brought the past with him, using whatever was best for the job in hand, and focussed on the quality of the type, not in the technology that produced it. I like that.
My recent reconnection with letterpress makes me feel a little more connected with people like Jim and some of the processes he kept alive, albeit in a very tenuous way, but I feel it.
My copy of the DVD came with this spiffy little catalogue from the Rimmer Type Foundry, showing samples of some of the typefaces he has produced.
As well as the catalogue, I also got piece of type – a lower case ‘k’ from the typeface that was designed and produced in the film. Such a beautiful little touch – I have lots of metal type in a variety of faces, but this is a little special.
Ok now go buy yours here.
Watch a trailer.
Read the blog
Read Jim’s Obituary
Read tributes to Jim
Look how the film got started
And if that’s not enough, look out for another film scheduled for release later this year – I will…
(PS If you like this, then you’ll like this too)
During a fair part of June, this is how my wife and children have seen me. An extraordinary book from 1978 – there is a good synopsis here… Highly recommended.
Life A Users Manual by Georges Perec
Towards The End Of The Morning by Michael Frayne
The History Of The Siege Of Lisbon by José Saramago
Brodsky and Utkin: The Complete Works by Lois Nesbitt
Beautiful Bookbindings by PJM Marks