Page 14 - March2017
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|  Musings on Small Printer |                     |  Mavina Baker (10791)  |


           t’s always a pleasure when Small   threw in a decorative piece or three of
           Printer magazine drops into the   founders type – just because they could.
       Ipostbox: time to make a coff ee and     Which is another thing: founders’
       fi nd a quiet place half an hour or so, in   type? . . . coming to letterpress as an
       which to discover how much I’ve still to   artist printmaker, my fi rst concerns are
       learn.                                design, concept, colour and paper. This
         As somebody once said ‘The more     letterpress novice knew nothing about
       I learn, the more I realise there is to   founders’ type, monotype, linotype . . .
       learn.’                               or how to distinguish between founders’
         Choosing Secondhand type (February   and monotype and even to know if it is
       issue) is a case in point, with tips on   relevant to my needs.
       what to look out for –  punctuation,     And then there is that all important
       numbers and that ever elusive idea    item, furniture. Not really something I
       of ‘need’. These are all items that   thought about when planning a piece of
       this novice was heedless of in her    work, and certainly not when I’d found
       determination to acquire some type.   ‘Just the Thing!’ on eBay.
         I’d discovered letterpress at UWE,     I’m beginning to learn.
       Bristol, when I started studying there     I’m also rather pleased that I’ve
       in 2008. At the time letterpress was a   learnt a little bit of make-do along
       less-used part of the print department,   the way. Now I’ll boldly cut wood or
       which meant I had the good fortune to   metal to size to hold type in the chase,
       use the Vandercook machine at almost   and pop bits of paper or card under
       any time that I wanted to. My studies   individual letters to obtain a decent
       were furthered through a scholarship   print. I do realise I didn’t invent these
       in 2010 to Penland Craft School, www.  solutions; old hands have been doing
       penland.org in the USA where I printed   that for time immemorial, but there is a
       and bound my fi rst illustrated book.   satisfaction in solving one’s own small
       I blame these experiences and the     print-related problems.
       enthusiasm of my tutors as the root     Producing small illustrated books is
       of my minor(?) obsession with artists’   what has drawn me into this love aff air
       books and letterpress.                with printmaking. The feel in the hand,
         As the article in Small Printer     the texture of the paper, the quality of
       explained, there are many pitfalls for   the mark and the feeling of being hand-
       the novice, not least because often   printed and hand-bound. Books in
       one is buying from other novices      which the texts and illustrations carry
       who’ve discovered they have acquired   equal weight in the design.
       something that they themselves cannot     I no longer fret about fi nding
       use. And buying a job lot just to get a   the ‘right’ type, because through
       much coveted item is a mistake: it led   membership of BPS I’ve found Lyme
       me to a surfeit of 7pt and 10pt type,   Bay Press and now look forward to
       which I couldn’t even give away!      making my own text plates.
         Hey-ho. This is what we call          However, that’s unlikely to halt my
       experience, and anyway, that has far   determination if the ‘right type’ comes
       been outweighed by meeting some great   along!
       ‘old boys’ of the print trade who happily
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