Some of you may recall a post last year about New York subway signs. I have had those things knocking around in my head for a while now, and decided to do something with them at last. I had been wanting to do some more linocutting as I have been a bit letterpress obsessed of late, and wanted to do something typographical, so here we are:
The letterforms are very condensed with a mixture of rounded and square corners and were not difficult to cut. I wasn’t aiming for perfection either – I like the individuality of the construction – the originals were probably created by a signwriter rather than a typographer.
I selected two destinations from the original scrolls to fit comfortably within in an A5 landscape area as I was planning to make these into greetings cards printed onto A4 card.
I also decided to go two colour – my first ‘proper’ bit of two colour printing! I cut a piece of lino slightly larger than the typographic block and printed around 20 or so sheets in a creamy yellow to mimic the original colour.
Once dry, I set to printing the black typo block. The image above shows my press jig (more on this another time); this helped me position the cards each time to get a reasonably close register on each print. The strip of card taped to the woodblock on the left is slightly bowed upwards to create a flexible ‘stop’ for each sheet, and there are markings (a bit light to see in these images) to help centre each sheet.
I deliberately did some under-inking to get that vintage worn out print feel.
The second block was printed directly after.
It’s a good feeling pulling away the prints. I’m never entirely certain of what I’ll get, but I think I got lucky here – apart from the first trial print of each block, every print was usable.
The garage finally started to look like a print shop too, with three rows of prints hung from strings in a zig-zag across the ceiling.
I am really pleased with the prints.
Next, I am going to print the Lestaret logo upside down on the other half of the sheet, before folding into greetings gards. I have set up the type and will complete the printing next week (Mrs.Lestaret has got me doing some DIY this weekend!) I enjoyed setting the mixed sizes for this:
I actually printed something on all three presses that evening (Wednesday 5th May) and I felt rather good for doing so too! Once I had cleaned up the lino, I inked up a single character on the little green HS1 and completed my second two colour prints! Just this question mark in red added to some 12 & 6pt Cheltenham setting in Prussian Blue I did a couple of weeks ago, with some of the really old type that came with the press.
It’s not beautiful; but it is hand-printed using old type on an old press (by an old man too my students may say!) and I am happy to be able to produce it myself.
I also tried again with the Adana 3-5 and the printers prayer I started previously, but this time with the rollers on! Oh yes, it’s amazing how excited I can get about four bits of plastic!
After making some corrections to the type, I locked the forme up into the press bed and did a few test prints. This press is a darn sight smoother than my little HS1!
As you can see, I still have some issues in getting a uniform impression, so I now need to do some ‘spotting up’ – sticking small strips of paper on the tympan where the type is not making an impression or is light:
After much wailing and beating of breast I admitted defeat.
I had made some improvements to the prints, but was spending so much time fiddling about with the spotting up I hadn’t noticed that it had got late and I was swearing a lot and beginning to get a bit peeved.
So this week I have achieved some things and admitted defeat in others but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I doubt the car will make it back into the garage printshop again either. I will be in there regularly, printing stuff and ‘messing about with type’ – something I’ve been far to serious about at times. I want to print more little quotes and phrases cards too, and will probably do some competition stuff over the summer, along with some bookmaking – something I haven’t mentioned much here, but I have been quietly sketching and playing with some new ideas.
I am also aiming to revive the circus poster during the summer and begin some detailed lino or wood cutting – not sure which yet – I’ve been advised to try some MDF for woodblock printing! Of course, you will see them here first, don’t worry!