Letterpress

The Moving Finger Writes…

I bought this fantastic copper top block of a ‘printers fist’ during the winter and have been looking forward to using it. It’s quite big – 116mm from cuff to fingertip and fits snugly into the bed of the Adana 3-5, with just a bit of extra packing behind it to raise it up to type-high.

I made a few test prints a few days ago and although I did not get a really good print, I think I will with a little more packing. These light prints are very encouraging though!

So, to get things moving and give myself something to work to, I began cutting a lino block to use as a background colour:

The idea is to cut away the area of the card in the hand and the cuff. I am also considering making some cuts into the hand area too, but will leave that for later.

I was playing with pale yellows and greens, adding a little extra ink to the inkplate to give each one a slightly different colour.

I ran about a dozen postcards just with the colour block, along with a few for registration set up. I couldn’t help myself trying it out on one of my earlier test prints.

Not bad for guesswork registration! You can see the green ink overprinting the black on the image below – I used some extender medium to give the ink some transparency, but when I print the fist on top of the colour block there will be much more contrast.

Just like the one below! I am writing this post over several days – for me, this is now the third day I have worked on this! The setting up of the press was a little more problematic than I first realised. I had printed the background lino block on the nipping press and was using the Adana 3-5 for the copper top block. It took quite a lot of adjusting to get anywhere near to register…

And then realising that I had not been terribly accurate printing the background, I went for a ‘close as I can get’ approach and embraced the Japanese principle of Wabi-sabi to its full extent.

I was near enough on most prints and not exact on any. Wabi-Sabi, innit?

Most people who are involved in letterpress and craft printing tend to appreciate things like the ‘printerly’ effect of under-inking and a little mis-registration. I do anyway.

Pop quiz: What do you get after a session printing blue fingers?

Answer:

Anyway, the next day I set some type – 24pt Franklin Gothic Bold – I don’t have a full set of this, but just enough for a few little jobs…

So, of all the things I could have put in there, why ‘oops!’  Was it about the registration?

No. I printed them all upside down. If you look carefully, you can see the impression in  the centre of the card!

Wabi-sabi, innit?

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