|we should have broken the bottle on the press’s cheek|
Luckily, some friends at Cornell College were looking to start a print shop. They weren’t picky about the kind of press they got, and so they arranged to come move this dinosaur into its new home on their campus. This press had been gifted once already, and had been used at Iowa’s Wheatland Gazette for years–so it was good to see it going to a place where it could be used again.
|the offending part, shown here on the mini-Washington|
Frustrated, I went home and read the Rummonds book again. I went to the UI Library, which has a gorgeous Columbia hand press and a miniature Washington press, to check out the placement of their straps. I took a couple dozen photos and had convinced myself I had assembled the straps backwards. (Typical–lately I feel like if I’m given the chance to do something backwards, I will.)
Day Two: My friend and I are back in the Cornell shop (which has no heat, mind you, and we are still in winter), pulling the nails out of the drum roller and reattaching the straps in their correct positions. We call the facilities guys to come back and give the press bed a nudge as we crank the handle, and with enough muscle, we overcome the grime that has seized the bed in place. The guys are shocked that I’m getting this thing moving again, and asking me a million questions about how it works, and how old it is, and where did I learn to do this. (Here’s where I can officially thank the folks in the UA Book Arts program, and Linda Samson-Talleur, who did a demo on Alabama’s hand press for us back when I was in the program. Roll Tide.) They say they’d love to come back and see us print something, and I hope that they do. They leave, and my friend Michelle and I roll the bed back and forth, back and forth, oiling the dry parts and reminding this beast of how it is supposed to move. I celebrate with a glass of wine, a hot bath, and some tiger balm.
Day Three: The real fun begins! The ladies have invited me to come to a crash-course demo on how to print on the hand press. We change out the tympan paper, cut a new window in the frisket, and lock in a block that Michelle has bought at the last Iowa Printers’ Fair. The ladies take turns locking in the form, inking the block, placing the proof paper, and pulling the platen down. We practice with wood type, and before we know it, we’re to the end of the session. We haven’t tried hardly any of the experiments I thought we would, but we’ve done enough make-ready that the press is ready to go. We’ve resurrected this beast and acquainted it with its three new proud owners, who are already planning their first collaborative print project and breaking out the champagne.
3. When deciding where to place your press, remember that the tympan and frisket take up three times the space you think they will when they are open…you know, measure twice, move once. The fellas with the pick-up will thank you.