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Category Archiveimportant equipment

Studio projects & important equipment Thursday February 12 2009 12:46 pm

Long printing / 8′ letterpress possibilities

We’ve been wanting to do some long printing via letterpress. We finally got around to building something that allows us to do it. Below is the first test print of about 70 inches.

You can see our second attempt at printing long for Birthdayscape 2009 here.

Above, Ray and Jill hold a birthday card which gives you some idea of the scale. We used a handrolling technique with about 6 colors on the type.

Below is a schematic of what we ended up building.

All of the materials were bought from a local Home Depot.

We used the roller from a C&P proofing press. You might notice that it has an outer edge that is slightly raised. We aren’t sure this is standard for this kind of roller. We think that when the proofing press was new there was some kind of cloth tympan wrapped around the roller. We are printing directly on the metal without using any kind of packing.

The material indicated in light grey is 3/4″ particle board with white melamine coating (often used for shelving). We bought a 24″ x 8′ piece and cut it down using a table saw.

The black L-shapes are angle iron we bought in 4′ lengths (4 total). This material might be different in different stores. As it turns out the thickness of the metal was exactly right for our first try. The thickness of the lip on the roller and the thickness of the angle iron was almost exactly 1 pica. That plus the 3/4″ thickness of the particle board plus the white melamine coating gave us a printing height of 0.917″. We produced our first test prints without any additional packing.

We’ll want to try putting something under the angle iron to raise it a bit on our next try which would allow us to sandwich a second piece of paper to cushion the pressure between the paper we are printing on and the roller. I think we were so surprised at how close it was to the height we wanted, we just went with it, as is.

Only the sides and bottom were screwed together. The 1″ strips of particle board were held in place by the type, furniture and quoins. The angle iron was kept in place by the pressure and width of the roller. We were careful as we rolled from one piece of angle iron to the other, but honestly, it was no problem at all. When we cut the piece for the bottom of the press, we calculated the width so there was only 1/16″ gap between the roller and the angle iron. The roller stayed in alignment along the printing path without any problems.

The paper we used was from a roll of photographic seamless paper (9 feet wide by 36 feet long- $71 when we bought the roll about a year ago - and enough paper to produce about 72 pieces like shown above). We cut about 8 inches off the roll using a radial arm saw and then cut that into two 9-foot lengths to give us  room to hold the paper at the ends as we printed.

This image shows Tray and Jill locking in the type. We used 1″ x 2″ wood as wood furniture. We cut the 1″ x 2″ in one place to accommodate the comma. We screwed the side pieces to the bottom every 4″. When we tightened the quoins snuggly, but didn’t push it.

We utilized a technique we use quite often by inking with multiple small rollers and multiple colors. Below shows the type after the third of the four pieces we printed. In the lower right is just a piece of corrugated cardboard that’s keeping the roller from rolling to the left.

The paper process worked like this. We would put one end of the paper under the roller and hold it tight against the floor. The other end was held about 1′ above the other end of the type. As the roller moved across we moved the unprinted end closer to the type, but let the roller actually push the paper against it.

The best results we got in this first try was leaving the paper stuck to the wood type as it was printed. Then once we got to the middle of the last letter and while the roller still had pressure on the paper we lifted the printed paper. Once it was up to the roller we tried to carefully print the last half letter and freed the paper.

We will likely work out a better process after a couple more tries on a book project we are just starting. We’ll show photos of that result in a few days.

Once it was dry we trimmed the piece square as shown in the top photo.

You can see our first attempt at edition printing here.

important equipment Thursday November 27 2008 11:02 am

Our Heidelberg Windmill has powered up

We finally got the 3-phase electricity put into the studio. We needed it for both our Heidelberg Windmill and our Intertype C4 linecaster (which we get in about two weeks).

Here is Mike Kaylor, our resident letterpress guru, looking over the Windmill as it takes a stack of paper from one place and restacks it in another for the very first time. Every letterpress studio needs a Mike Kaylor.

Lead Graffiti Heidelberg Windmill on its first run

When we first hooked it up it was running backwards as the electrician had hooked the wires in reverse. Reversing two of the wires and all was right.

Now we need someone that wants 20,000 of something.

important equipment Sunday November 23 2008 08:51 am

Lead Graffiti gets into hot metal with an Intertype C4

Since starting in letterpress we’ve planned on printing small, limited edition books. We’ve just purchased an Intertype C-4 linecasting machine (in Portland, Maine) to add to our capabilities and should have it in our shop sometime around the middle of December. This will give us some ‘hot metal’ capabilities along with the ability to set text for books. So, if you are near Newark, Delaware and have any experience with Intertype we are interested in becoming friends. We need to be getting some old printers in our studio.

Above is the Intertype C4 we are getting. Serial number is 26,476 (originally shipped in late 1956). In the back left you can see some of the magazines holding typeface mats that are part of the collection. At the bottom of this post is a listing of the typefaces we’ll have.

Above is the keyboard for the Intertype. The keys are arranged based on how frequently they appear in the English language. On the right you can see that the capital letters have their own set of keys. It will be interesting to see how confusing our lives now get having this keyboard and our computer keyboards.

At the bottom of the image above you can see the lines of type as they stack up. If you make a mistake typing a line you have to retype the whole line.

When you hit a key it allows a mat of the particular letter to drop out of the magazine. Above you can see the mats aligned in a magazine that has a clear cover on it. As you type the molds from the previous line are recycled back into the magazine for reuse. With the C4 you can have as many as four magazines of type at the same time available to you. The image below shows the mat for a 24-point G.

The machine is an amazing thing to watch. What appears to be thousands of parts, cams moving various pieces so they can contribute their part to the process, molten lead being injected, and final type stacking up. If you get the chance to come by and see it you should. We will probably tend to use this in spurts so you might drop us an email to see when we will be running it.

Following is a list of the type we are getting with the Intertype. A listing like “Baskerville / Bold” means you have both the regular and the bold versions available in the same set of mats.

Aldus — 12 point
Baskerville / Bold — 10 point
Baskerville / Italic — 8, 9, 11, 12 point
Baskerville / Italic (SPLIT) — 14 point S
Baskerville Bold / Italic — 8, 10, 12, 14 point
Bernhard Fashion w/ Park Avenue — 12, 14 point
Bodoni Bold / Italic — 12 point
Bodoni Bold Cond / Franklin Gothic — 18 point
Bodoni Book / Italic — 10 point
Bodoni Poster / Italic — 12, 14 point
Caslon / Italic — 10, 12, 24 point
Caslon 236 Old Face — 10, 12 point
Century / Bold — 10, 14 point
Century Bold / Italic — 14 point
Century Expanded — 14 point
Century Expanded / Bold — 8, 10 point
Century Medium / Bold — 5.5 point
Cheltenham / ? — 18 point
Copperplate Lining Gothic / Roman — 6 point
Egmont Medium / Italic — 14 point
Egmont Medium Italic Only — 18 point
Fairfield — 9 point
Futura Book / Demi Bold — 6, 8, 10 point
Garamond #2 Reg / Italic — 14 point
Garamond #3 Bold / Italic — 6, 8, 10 point
Garamond #3 Reg / Italic — 8, 9, 10, 12 point
Garamond Bold — 14, 18 point
Gothic Alt 1 / Palisade — 18 point
Gothic Alt 1 / Palisade — 24 point
Gothic Extra Bold / Memphic Extra Bold — 14 point
Goudy / Italic — 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 point
Kenntonian / Italic — 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 point
Lydian Bold / Italic — 10, 14 point
Melior / ital — 6, 8, 9, 10 point
Melior / semi-bold — 9, 10, 12 point
Memphis Extra Bold Condensed — 18 point
Metro Lite / Bold — 8 point
News Gothic / Bold — 6, 8, 10, 10, 12 point
No. 2 / Condensed Title — 10 point
Palatino / Italic — 6, 8, 10, 12 point
Scotch — 11 point
Spartan / Bold — 10 point
Times Roman / italic — 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 point
Vogue Bold Condensed / Extra Bold — 14 point
Vogue Extra Bold (CAPS ONLY) — 18 point
Vogue Extra Bold / Bold — 18 point
Vogue Extra Bold / Oblique — 12, 14 point
Vogue Lite / Bold — 8, 10, 12, 14, 18 point

important equipment Monday October 01 2007 06:43 am

The iron handpress has landed

Well, after our most adventurous effort to recondition anything we’ve ever owned, on Friday, September 28th we installed the 1869 Hoe Washington #5 iron handpress into our new studio.

We still expect a bit of work getting everything aligned, but after an hour’s work it appeared to be pretty close.

Click here to see a longer explanation and a lot of photos of the moving and installation process.

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.

important equipment Saturday November 18 2006 11:50 am

Vandercook SP-15

Wallflowers Press has added a Vandercook SP-15 to its inventory. We bought this off of eBay. Turned out to not be in quite as good a shape as it looked in the photo, but those things have been corrected, and we’ve printed tens of thousands of sheets with it.

We wanted a smaller Vandercook that used a hand crank so we could offer letterpress classes or press rental.

. . . Serial number: 26817 (built in 1967)
. . . Maximum sheet size: 14 x 20
. . . Maximum form: 14 x 18
. . . Bed size: 15 x 31
. . . Floor space: 32 x 69
. . . Weight: 705 pounds

Currently our workhorse is a Vandercook Universal III (an 18 x 24 image on an 18 x 28 sheet) with automatic paper delivery for limited edition fine press books.

Studio projects & events & important equipment & personal Tuesday November 30 1999 12:00 am

Thank yous

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In the social revolution that is happening on the Internet, it surely isn’t happening in the concrete world of paper. I find it amazing how much trouble you can sometimes go to and have no acknowledgement from the recipient of your trouble.

Anyway, if you’ve been following us at all you should know about Craig Cutler’s CC52 project. While they were here I had commented on how nice it was to have great equipment. Little comes close to “having the right tool for the right job.” Craig had to rush out at the end of the shoot, leaving his two assistants to clean up. I took Craig to the train station and when I got back they had left their lighting stands for us.

When I called Craig to tell him “No way,” he said he was moving his studio into a new location and was getting all new stands anyway. Yeah, right. But honestly we’ve really ramped up the quality of our photos. Those stands help out a lot more than I thought they would.

This was our photographic thank you to Craig with a bit of handrolled letterpress. He left 7 stands and a couple rolls of seamless. It all fit together quite well. It is actually harder to get those arms to intertwine than you would think. Check out Craig’s photos from Lead Graffiti, if you haven’t already.

Craig Cutler thank you

APA & Histories of Newark: 1758-2008 & Studio & Studio projects & Visual Communications / UD & events & film & honors, awards, media & news & important equipment & inventory / collection & inventory / important type & inventory / miscellaneous & inventory / presses & personal & photo projects / hand-drawn type & printing tricks / advice / help & trips & type & Lettering & uncategorized & workshops Tuesday November 30 1999 12:00 am

Craig Cutler at Lead Graffiti

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Craig Cutler, noted New York photographer, is near completion of a year-long series of weekly personal projects entitled CC52. The 49th in the series are photographs taken at Lead Graffiti.

Click on Craig’s image of some of our 96 point foundry metal Caslon below and take a look.