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May 13 / Scott

Pressing On – The Letterpress Film

This is the documentary film my daughter Erin is working on. I am very proud of what she is doing. Most of the people who will be interviewed, IF IT IS FUNDED, are my friends and members of the MWT Advisory Committee. They have helped me to be able to cut wood type. They are free with good advice and not afraid to tell me when I am wasting my time. They have shared their vast pool of knowledge with me. Erin, and hundreds of other letterpress printers around the globe. The timing of this film is critical. It can not wait to be produced five years from now IF IT IS NOT FUNDED.

Many people do not know how Kickstarter works. If the Kickstarter does not get fully funded by the deadline, all funds are returned to the supporters and the film Pressing On will not be made. Many people do know how it works and have seen the value in supporting the production of this film. Thank you to all the people who have contributed the wonderful rewards, and thanks to everyone who has supported the Kickstarter so far.

Check over the reward list, watch the video clips. Please consider making a donation of any size. It all adds up and will allow future letterpress printers to understand where the knowledge and techniques came from. 

Mar 1 / Scott

Every Printer needs some Dots

In the past four years of cutting wood type and working with printers from all over the world I have been amazed to find that with all the beautiful catchwords, ornaments, stars and snowflakes I make, they keep telling me how much they use the dots. I have always made dots from the beginning. Some just solid circles and some with designs cut out of the dots. I gave them away as promotions, as part of special orders, and mostly just as “free” extra new wood type to fill out the box on an order.

The dots are made from the many small pieces of prepared maple left from cutting out other type. Since there is no grain direction to worry about with end grain, you can get a 4 x 4, or 5 x 5 pica square out the long strips left from laser cutting wood type. You need to cut the larger dots out of nice new slabs of hard maple. You can get lots of dots out of a big slab when that is all you are making.

It is fun to make different designs. I have found inspiration in nature, patterns, and in old type specimen books. Some patterns are laser cut, some are turned on a wood lathe, and some made out the scrap pieces of plywood left from other patterns.

Last year I sold a special Valentine’s Day gift for the “Printer You Love” in a nice heart shaped red metal tin. I ran out of time this year, but will be selling them again next winter.

I took the 540 dots I had been making for the past three months and put them in nice gift boxes. Each “Box of Dots” contains 15 pairs of dots. Twenty dots are 4 pica, eight are 5 pica and there are two solid ones that are 6 pica. The solid dots are trapped .005” smaller than the pattern ones.

I have seen the dots used as flowers, eyes, wheels, borders, spacers, and what ever a creative printer needs. There are only 17 boxes this year and they are in the Moore Wood Type Store. (The link is also on the top right) I also will take special orders for any design at any size for a good price.

 

Jan 7 / Scott

A new card to complete the set

One of the best things about making replacement letters is the opportunity to see all of the beautiful things that were used to print with on a letterpress.

This summer, Don Black, of Don Black Linecasting in Toronto brought me one of my favorite challenges, a missing 10 of spades from a set of small scale, “Army Cards.” This full set of playing cards, including the face cards and the Ace of Spades were a hidden prize in a wood type cabinet my daughter helped him find in Ohio.

The cards are only 2 inches tall so that the full set could fit into the pocket of a soldier or sailor with room to spare. I have not been able to confirm this but I have been told by several “Older” printer friends that this is what these cuts would be used to print.

They are metal cuts that have been hand nailed to cherry bases to bring them up to .918.” It is not a very pretty job of construction, but they do register in the proper position when you check the math. I scanned the original 10 of clubs to get the proper position for the 10 spades, and the original 9 of spades to get the art for the “spade.”

 

I dropped these scans into Adobe Illustrator and created to proper pattern for the missing 10 of spades. It was drawn at three times actual size in the computer then scaled to the final size. For a laser pattern I had to reverse the card art to white and placed it on a black background. I have learned from experience you have to scale up the black negative space to allow for trimming. You also have to add .003” to the white impression area to correct for wood that is lost to the laser side heat.

 

The new 10 of spades was laser cut into new end grain hard maple along with two other printer’s replacement letters and trimmed to match the size and shape of the other pieces of card type.

Don seemed pleased with the replacement card, giving him the full set of 52 for his private collection.