Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I took a workshop last weekend, at the Baird in South Orange, with Miriam Scheuer in basic bookmaking techniques.   It was soooo hot in that 3rd floor room without air conditioning but it was worth the suffering.  The first day we learned lots of book forms, most of which didn't require gluing or sewing.  The second day we made two codexes.  One had exposed spine and the other was cased.  I hope I'm using my new vocabulary correctly.  I used some of my paste paper for the covers--the paper looks so much better in use than it did as a big sheet.  Anyway, it was very exciting and I feel ready to move into making artist books.  

Fun and Games

This is a surprise gift for my son.  I'm so certain that he doesn't read my blog that I think it's safe to post the progress.  The idea came from a crazy idea he thought of for how to frame his diploma because he majored in Ancient History.  He laughingly said it would have Roman gladiators and mythological characters cavorting all over the frame and emerging from it.   He said he didn't want some boring frame like everyone has. 

 So, I felt it was a challenge I might be able to take on.  My husband and I assembled a collection of plastic toys and cut them down so they'd appear to emerge from the frame and glued them down.  Then we gessoed the whole thing and then I mixed up some traditional gesso using rabbit skin glue, marble dust, tissue and linseed oil cooked up and used that to strengthen and smooth the joining areas.  I think we're going to spray it black, but the decision isn't final.  

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New arrival--a proof press!!

Well, I couldn't let that workbench stay  empty, could I?  I spotted this proof press on ebay within driving distance (thank you, husband) and I put in a bid and  fortunately won.  Then I panicked--was this really going to print type and wood/linoleum blocks? So I used the time before pickup day to do research and quell my fears.  I focused on registration since I think that's the weak point for a simple proof press like this as opposed to some of the Vandercook proof presses.

 The sellers were very nice people--someone in the family had taught printing in a school and had a shop in the basement.  I quickly checked the press and saw I was correct that it will print type-high stuff so that was a major relief!  It is a LinoScribe proof press.  Apparently there are some LinoScribes that  print rubber type that's only made by the company but other LinoScribes are for proofing and sign printing. 

 Before even cleaning up the press I eagerly got out an assortment of cuts and type and linoleum blocks and tried it out.  Oh my gosh--it worked great!  I love the dial on the side that changes the height of the roller.  I discovered that it has a nifty mechanism to hold the paper in place that consists of a row of "fingers" which are operated by a handle held tight by a spring.  The roller mechanism opens the "fingers" by depressing the handle when it is in the farthest position to the left.   After putting the paper in place you can roll the carriage just a bit and the "fingers" close tight.    

I can see I will need to keep notes on how high the roller setting should be for different kinds of printing material.    The grid that was in the press bed was filthy and damaged so I removed the bar that holds that in place which is at the opposite end of the press from the "fingers".  I replaced it with graph paper covered by a layer of acetate.  I'm thinking I can write on the acetate maybe. Or maybe I'll want to put a grid specific to each printing job under the acetate/mylar.  

  I can see there will be a period of experimentation before I figure out the best way to deal with registration.  I've seen plans online for a frisket and tympan device but since I already have a way to secure the paper that doesn't seem like the way to go for my situation.   Maybe some strong rectangular magnets would be good to make sure my block stays where I want it when I'm in a hurry and don't want to bother with locking up the traditional way?   Always lookin' for easy street!!!   Also, magnets would hold the graph paper/acetate down at the corners.  I can't see a way to secure them at the "finger" end of the press bed.

I would love any input from experienced users of presses like this--there's just not much on the internet that I can find.