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Monthly ArchiveSeptember 2007

inventory / collection & trips Monday September 24 2007 06:08 pm

Craig Cutler and letterpress

We were working on the new studio today, bringing some things to decorate the space a bit before we start moving the big, heavy things. I have a photo taken by a former student of mine named Craig Cutler who is a photographer in New York City and a big deal in the world of advertising photography.

Craig was chosen to shoot a photo for the Life Magazine celebrating the 100 most important moments of the last millennium. As fate would have it he was chosen to represent Johannes Gutenberg as moment NUMBER ONE. He got to hold the bible, turn the pages, and choose which page would be used for the photo. Whew.

It is kind of coincidental that in my retirement I’ve gravitated to letterpress printing.

Here is Craig’s photo.

In Jill and my travels we’ve now seen 10 of the 48 or so Gutenberg Bibles.

If you stop by our studio you can see the original photo of Craig’s.

important equipment Friday September 21 2007 07:41 am

Hoe part #3

When we started to repaint our Washington Press we were afraid of trying to take the bed and platen off (both weigh somewhere around 400 pounds each at least). Once we got the press stripped and primed it seemed like we should go all the way so we took everything off but the springs that support the platen.

The photo above left shows Jill working on cleaning a few leftover places. The springs are wrapped in paper towels with the blue tape holding it tight.

The right photo shows it right after the spraypainting was finished. It is still a bit shinier than it will be after the paint dries down to its satin finish.

A group of new guys have rented a shop space right next to “Lenny Who Welds.” They are going to be doing high-end car stereos, detailing cars, and painting. I think we might give them one of the Pilots we have to see what they could come up with. I wonder if flames would make it print any better.

Here is the platen (part that presses the paper against the type) and how we worked with it.

We had already primed the platen when it as still bolted to the main supports on the press. The left photo is after we had removed it from the press and had it up on 4″ x 4″ boards. We had to lift it enough so that when it rotates (left over right) the platen wouldn’t hit the floor. The springs we mentioned above go into those two supports that jut out of the long sides of the platen. We sprayed those two supports and then rolled it over on those supports so we could clean the rust off the bottom of the press.

We lifted the platen on two 4″ x 4″ boards so we could paint it’s top satin black. Typically when we are doing lifting we are either using a floor jack or a long 2″ x 4″ and levering it.

The closeup below shows the spray paint mark from right before we rolled it over to work on the bottom.

important equipment Friday September 21 2007 07:15 am

Our C & P 8 x 12 and welding

We have a Chandler & Price 8 x 12 built in 1903 that we want to save. It appears to have been broken completely in half vertically, right down the middle. There has been a weld on every cast iron part through that plane.

We want the press because it has a treadle. When we do workshops related to the C&P platen presses we want one that treadles. Our C & P 10 x 15 is motorized. Treadling has a nice quality to it when you are feeding paper with your right hand, taking printed paper off with your left hand, standing on your left foot, and treadling with your right.

When we got around to cleaning off the decades of dust, grit, oil, etc. before we move it into our space (with nice clean floor) we found that the last remaining part that hadn’t been welded was ‘broken.’ As it turns out, Lenny, who has a shop right across the parking lot in our industrial complex where we rent our studio space can weld cast iron. He also has a forklift. Ain’t life grand.

He came over, picked up the press, drove the 120 feet over to his place and welded it back together in about 3 minutes. The left photo above is Lenny grinding the weld down to make it pretty. We kind of want to leave it well exposed as this is our first weld.

Then he gave Jill and I a demo on welding. Neither of us had ever done it and quite frankly I don’t think either of us had ever been this close to it. The right photo is Jill leaning into her test, watching the metal boil and pile up as you moved the torch (not sure of the word) along a trial piece of metal. Just for the record, every one of those little what-appears-to-be-a-bit-of-molten-iron mortars is as hot as it looks like it is.

We are definitely getting deeper into this letterpress life. Very cool to give that a try.

important equipment Wednesday September 05 2007 08:29 am

1869 Washington #5 iron handpress - step 2

Well, that was work getting our 1869 Hoe Washington #5 hand press stripped and primed.

We took the Hoe down to the bare metal by using a wire brush on our drill, coating it with paint stripper, cleaning it thoroughly, coating it again with paint stripper, cleaning it thoroughly, and then using the wire brush and drill to just take the dust off the surface. That took a total of about 20 hours spread over 7 days.
The hard part to figure out was how to get the bed off (the horizontal piece just in front of Jill). We pulled the bed until it was out from under the platen (the large, horizontal between Jill & Ray) as far as it would go. The bed likely weights in at maybe 400 pounds. As it is shown in this photo, it is upside down. We bought all of those 4″ x 6″ boards at Loew’s and crisscrossed them until we were near the height of the bed. Ray could lift one end enough to slip in a small pieces of 4″ x 6″ and 2″ x 8″ until it was 1″ off the rails (piece on top of the saw horses). Then repeated that for the other end of the bed.

Then we could lift the rails out from under the bed and platen. Not sure how much it weighs, but it is just about the limit of what Jill and I can pick up.

Then the hard part was trying to figure out how to get the bed turned over so we had easier access to the part we wanted to paint (the top of the bed is a smooth, flat, metal surface.

The bed has two round bars (not sure what these are called) that stick out of each end of the bed. Normally, this is used to attach straps that allow you to crank the bed in and out from under the platen between each print. We took two pieces of 4″ x 6″ x 2′ and knotched it to hold a metal bar to keep it from moving from side to side. Ray would pick up one end of the bed, Jill would move the supports until they was out under the round bars. We had to be sure that it was high enough so it would rotate the bed while not hitting the rest of the supporting boards. We did this to both ends, being careful to hold the bed to keep it from automatically rolling over. Once it was rolled over (upside down so we could strip the part we wanted to paint), Ray picked up the end again and Jill moved the supports back under the bed.


The thing we have left to do related to cleaning is to get the rust off the top of the bed, the bottom of the platen (which is pretty rusty), and from the various other pieces of unpainted metal (figure 4 toggle, etc.). It seems that the press had not been in use for a while. The printer we bought it from had the press for three years and never pulled a print from it. He had no idea how long it had been sitting from the place he bought it from. It would really be nice to be able to track down the history of the press, but I think that is going to be hard, if not impossible.