New Blog for 2012
|January 17, 2012
I suppose the most important news as 2012 begins is Fiona Otway's Documentary Film, Kiss The Paper - a 20 minute documentary showing operations in a small one-man letterpress shop with selected commentary about the past, present and future of Letterpress Printing. we are very proud to have been involved in this project and hope that viewers really enjoy it.
Kiss the Paper now has it's own Facebook Page - and is showing this week "near" the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance cut back on their number of documentaries this year, but KTP was accepted at the Slam Dance Film Festival, which competes with Sundance at the same time and location.
Fiona visited the shop this weekend with a bunch of the new DVDs - fancy ones with a cover photo and titles printed on them. They look very professional.
We spent a very chilly day in the shop designing the layout of the sleeves, setting the text in wood and metal type, and then printed a bunch on the Windmill. So now, KTP now also has a proper DVD and DVD Sleeve - and, as you can see in the photo above, we are also in the midst of another run of new posters for the Film.
BTW - We are very proud of Fiona's work. Slamdance accepted only 70 shorts for viewing this year - out of nearly 5,000 submissions. An KTP was one of them. I guess some - besides us - thinks it's worth seeing......
Saw something interesting on tv just now. A new series of Dodge Ram Truck commercials show a metal type form locked up in a chase - and for a moment even shows what appears to be the flywheel of an early (curved spokes) platen press - right there on tv - on a Dodge Ram commercial!
You can all see it - and a really bad example of how not to lock up a form - and how not to put away loose type and spaces..
But don't worry about that. This is a tv commercial - and the producer knew that letterpress was cool - and that's good enough for me... see it at http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/guts_and_glory/ Heck, they even named the series of ads "LETTERPRESS" It's right there as the alt tag for the "play video" button....
February 7 - A 10-minute video about Letterpress and Paper in Los Angeles, California:
Dave Hughes found a new video about Letterpress - and embedded it into his web site. But here's a link to the Vimeo source (which plays in full-screen mode) of INK & PAPER by Ben Proudfoot. Ink & Paper features Gary Wollen's 80-year old specialty paper house - McManus & Morgan - and a fifty-year-old Hot Metal Letterpress Shop Aardvark Letterpress. A video worth seeing, although we must admit it does paint a
February 12 -
Fiona Otway stopped by on here way between cities this afternoon. She came to visit the cold print shop, and say hi, but also to pick up a supply of the new Kiss The Paper Posters that were printed on the press behind her.
Kiss The Paper continues on the film festival circuit after a recent showing at the Slamdance Film Festival in Utah. CDs exist, but are not yet available for sale. As soon as they are, we will let you know.
Fiona's other recent work - the award-winning To Hell and Back - a 90-minute documentary about Afghan War Veterans dealing with PTSD - has recently become available on DVD or via Netflicks.
Fiona edited 100 hours' worth of video footage down to 90 minutes of award winning documentary. In our case, she edited a few days' shooting in the print shop down to 20 minutes of hopefully interesting viewing.
February 16 -
Had a rush printing job today - wedding invitations - wouldn'tchaknow...
But I shot a short video as I finished the run on the Vandercook. Then I posted it on YouTube and sent the link to my client to show her that the envelopes were done....
(Dontcha just love modern technology....) ;)
Finishing The Envelopes on Youtube
Kiss The Paper views at The Big Sky Film Festival in Missoula, Montana
Tony & Lynn from the Holcome-Jimson Museum in Lambertville came by this weekend. They brought a press that they thought was a Kelsey, because it said "Meriden, Conn" on the side. Actually, it was a Cook's Enterprise, patented 1875 - and was made by Bill Kelsey's nearest competitor - makers of the famous Cook's Victor - which Kelsey sold as his own after buying out the company.
This press was discovered without an ink disk, so Tony is making his own. Quite an undertaking, but with the support of the museum's machine shop, we expect success.
Melissa Livingston came by again - this time to drop off her 6x10 Kelsey Victor for repair. She had some questions about the treadle-powered 10x15 C&P Early Series which has become her main press these days. We also had some fun trimming a lot of odd-length furniture she brought with her.
Fiona Otway's letterpress documentary, Kiss The Paper now has its own FAN PAGE - with new photos from the print shop.
And, Fiona has posted a really short video clip of us printing the DVD sleeves on the Heidelberg Windmill last month.
Joe & Andrea Lanich - local letterpress friends and co-stars of Kiss The Paper came by to say good bye. Joe & Andrea first came to the shop back in January of 2010 - "to see what this letterpress stuff was all about"... And then, they found some presses and began printing. Now they have dived in deep into their letterpress operation - the Laughing Owl Press is now a full-time effort for them both. They've left their day jobs, sold their house in NJ and have moved back to their homeland in the woods and hills of rural northwestern PA - home of the annual LeekFest, for which they've been printing the posters since they've become letterpress printers.
Joe & Andrea, btw, are the young couple featured as students in (& co-stars of) Fiona Otway's documentary Kiss The Paper.
March 15 - Mid-month update
Well, it's finally warmed up in the shop. No more need for those pesky propane heaters - except at night. Daylight, sunshine, longer days and fun days in the print shop. Roller casting is going well, and are restocking inventory on the popular 5x8 Kelsey rollers. We'll be doing 3x5s and some custom orders next. But as much as we enjoy making everything we need, we'll still be sending out larger rollers out to Ramco for recovering. We're also preparing to invest some $300 in new tools and special attachments for our little metal lathe - to make fabricating roller trucks more precise and efficient.
After that, we'll be restocking furniture fonts and gauge pins and we just got word that the order of Richlite we've been waiting for should arrive by the end of the week. Once it's milled by the machinist, we will be able to resume production of our popular Excelsior Chase-Base and begin filling orders for those patient folks who have been waiting for so long.
So. That's the mid-month update from the Excelsior Press. I'll add some photos as soon as I find a minute to crop and re-size the ones we have to show you.
Sunday, March 25
Chris Seitz is back again, putting in more time helping with the restoration of the Vandercook Model 4 which, when completed, will be printing at the Long Beach Island Art Center in NJ. This is the press that folks had been hounding me about for years. But Chris is the one who finally convinced me to sell it. But first, it's got to be restored to like new condition - and boy, is that a project! Once completed, this press will look and print like it first did when it was made back in the early 1950s.
March 29 - A most welcome surprise visit from Excelsior Press Alumni, David Powell! Seen here in front of the Heidelberg Windmill he learned to run back around 1979. David had come to the Excelsior Press just out of high school and became the Master of our 12x18 C&P, which he named "Big Ben". While at The EP, David learned letterpress job printing from hand-setting foundry type to hand-feeding presses & running the Heidelberg Windmill. He also became fully competent in all the techniques of offset work as well - darkroom process camera work (with real film in those days...), platemaking and running the offset press as well. After he moved on to the next step in his printing career - while working as an engraver - he came back to the shop and mounted a metal name plate that he had engraved with "Big Ben" on his favorite press. It remains there to this day.
David's brother Mark (now a doctor with a community practice nearby in PA) had worked at EP while attending a local college prior to medical school. Knowing how much Mark had contributed to the success of the EP made it easy to bring on his younger brother David onto the team when he applied, where he quickly proved himself as a reliable and competent addition to the staff. David, Mark and their friend Russ Letiecq are the three "guys from Cranford" that came all the way out to the edge of Union County to join the Excelsior Press and who were all vital parts of the shop's success during its heyday in Berkeley Heights from 1975-1985.
After many years learning and working in the graphics arts trades, David now works with Dominion Sample, a company specializing in custom-made samples and swatch books of all types - for paper, inks, paints, etc.
Welcome back, David. It's good to see you at the Heidelberg again.
Tax time, and it sure can get complicated - and depressing. Gotta love that Schedule C, though - where old printers get to list - and deduct - all the expenses of running their old print shops.
The good news is that our tax liability is low.
The bad news is that we spent $10k more than we earned in 2011. Gotta get those bills sent out and stop buying so many old presses and cabinets that we don't really need!
Our daughter Tina sent me this photo - of a poster she saw at school today...
So now they're calling me a "visiting artist" - sure sounds better than "an old man with a print shop".... ;)
She didn't realize that her old man was becoming famous - "big fish in a small sea" sort of famous, but still it was nice for her to be able to see this poster at her school...
And I'm sure it will be a fun day at Val Sivili's new Book Arts class at Raritan Valley Community College..
Tony Weber came by today to show us the results of his efforts. This (Cook) Victor Enterprise 3x5 showed up at the Holcombe-Jimson Museum in Lambertville, NJ with no ink disk. Since Tony is resourceful, he took it upon himself to fabricate a wooden pattern which fit, worked and in all ways served as an ink disk. However, that was not enough, so he found a block of aluminum and prevailed upon the museum's own machinist to duplicate the wooden pattern (with some improvements) from a solid block of aluminum. We don't know how many hours went into this project, but we certainly must say that unless you have a lot of time and have the equipment, we don't recommend that you try this at home. It's a monumental task - but Tony and his friends were indeed up to it. Congratulations for a job well done.
To the left is the tool set up that Tony used to cut the teeth in the wooden template - 18 teeth at 20 degrees spacing. After testing, this was increased to 24 teeth at 15% spacing for the final aluminum ink disk.
This press will be unveiled and do its first public printing at the Holcombe-Jimson Farmstead Museum in Lambertville, NJ at 2:00 pm on Sunday, May 6, 2012.
Deborah Holcomb (no relation to the museum) came by with the 5x8 Kelsey she had picked up at a garage sale. We began to disassemble and restore it as a joint project - "come to the shop and I will help you restore your press"....
But first, she wanted to pull a proof of her first wood block carving, so we did - on the little Showcard/Vandercook table top proof press.
This Showcard Press, btw, is one that was built for Showcard by Vandercook. It is essentially a Vandercook Model 99 press with a fancier handle, a set of grippers to hold the stock in place, and "Showcard" labels on the main cylinder. However, a deeper investigation - along with cross-referencing its serial numbers with Fritz Klinke at NA Graphics - shows us that this is indeed a Vandercook...
"Visiting Artist" (aka "old man with a print shop") at RVCC today. It was great. I hope some of the students can send me photos of the day - I was a bit too busy to take pictures. But we had fun! First, we watched Fiona Otways' documentary Kiss The Paper (which was filmed at The Excelsior Press), then I answered some questions as I demonstrated printing on the Showcard Press as well as the Golding Official.
I didn't bring any printed cards with me, so I told the students that if they wanted my card, they'd have to print it themselves - which they did. Each student had a chance to print some cards on the Golding. One of the students really flattered me by asking me to sign - and date - the back of my card. I guess this is a day that we all will remember. I just wish I had gotten some photos of the students at work on the presses....
Meanwhile, Kaylee had taken an interest in the hand type and the Showcard press, so she mixed up some ink from the base colors I brought with me, set her name in 24 point Cheltenham, added in a few dingbat slugs from the Ludlow, and began printing her own cards. She wouldn't stop! As other students were happily printing one or two cards on the Golding, Kaylee just kept printing cards for herself on the Showcard....
All in all, I'd say it was a great day - and I have already agreed to visit next semester's Book Arts class and do it again....
Yes, contrary to rumor, we are still supplying Starter Kits - standard and custom - for new press owners. The one at the right is for the new owner of an 8x12 Chandler & Price sold by Rick The Printer in Athens, GA.
This particular kit includes only the items she needs - things Rick did not have on hand in his shop on the day the press was delivered. We sent her tympan, furniture, a composing stick, leads & slugs, a line gauge. Rick supplied her with the rest of her start-up supplies. Sent in a Priority Mail Flat-rate box, it arrived at its destination within 3 days of mailing.
Is it really May - already!? Where has the time gone!? Anyway. good news for those folks waiting so patiently for the new Chase Base. Mr. Brown at the machine shop has told me to expect a call today to come and pick up the 10+ base slabs he has milled to size for me. A few more hours' finishing work in our shop, and I'll have a stock of Pilot bases ready to ship - along with a few of the new 9x13 Kelsey bases and quite a few of the smaller 5x8 & 6x10 bases - plus perhaps some new ones of different sizes for other presses.
Next step will be to order more large slabs of the material and begin the long process over again. Perhaps now that we have the source of supply, and a machinist ready to finish the top and bottom surfaces perfectly, we can satisfy more inquiries. Making the well-known and well-like wooden bases one at a time in the shop was fun, but now so many folks want them, that I needed some help. I wanted to change to a more stable material than wood - so now we're buying the hard, stable phenolic material in bulk and having a perfect surface milled at the machine shop. The we will bring them back to the shop to do the final trimming and fitting as before - on presses in our own collection.
Watch for a photo here of the new Chase-Base - just as soon as we have one to show....
Tony Weber came by today to ink up and print with the 1870's Cooks Enterprise 3x5 platen press that he recently restored for demonstrations at The Hocombe-Jimson Museum in Lambertville, NJ.
This press had been found without an ink disk. Tony engineered and fabricated a brand new ink disk in wood, then had the wood disk (with some modifications) duplicated in aluminum.
Tony made the roller shafts, turned his own delrin trucks, then cast his own custom diameter rollers using our set-up here at the Excelsior Press. When he came by today we inked up the press and used it to produce what is quite possibly the first print it has produced in perhaps 50-100 years...
The type in the chase at this first print, was from an old sign used on the farm: THE COWS ARE OUT
But, since that was set in 6 line wood type - hardly an easy design to print on this little press, we set a paragraph of text in 14 point Nicholas Cochin explaining a bit about the press, it's age and the restoration project of Holcombe-Jimson Museum. With the sharp bite of the serifed Cochin, the souvenir card printed much easier.
Deborah Holcomb was back again today - the third and final day of her 3-day restoration project. She came today to complete the restoration of the 5x8 Kelsey she snagged for a good price at a garage sale, then brought here for restoration - and finally, actually print with it. And print, she did!
In order to better know her press, Deborah assisted in the restoration. In fact, she did much of the work while I offered tools, supplies, and plenty of advice.
Yes, I did some of the work, too, but she learned the entire process - down to removing and cleaning then replacing and adjusting the platen, cleaning and lubricating the roller hooks for smooth operation, setting the roller height by taping the trucks, then setting her own foundry type (a beautiful font of fresh-cast Dale Guild (ATF Quality) 12 point Parson's), locking up the form, inking up the press, setting the gauge pins and printing her own cards for RiverSideFiberArts.com.
Sometimes I feel like Tom Sawyer and his white picket fence; my students/clients seem to enjoy doing the restoration work as much as I enjoy watching them work...
May 18 - The New Chase Base
Today we had a visit from two Philadelphia graphic designers with a yearn for letterpress... Jason & Nicole came to the shop to pick up a new Excelsior Chase-Base for their Pilot. This is the first of the new Phenolic Excelsior Chase-Base - number 12-001.
In this photo, they are showing us their PMS-colored cell phones - PMS 354 Green for Jason's phone; PMS 021 Orange for Nicole's. They told me that the Pantone System is now being used for house paint! Ah, the good old days when only printers knew what the Pantone Matching System was...
Now you can get a cell phone cover to match your favorite ink.. ... one of the wonders of modern technology....
The new Phenolic Chase-base, Flexible Gauge Pins and Extension Feed Guides they will use on their press are sitting on the board below.
May 24 -
My buddy Chris & I made the trek up to North Jersey and loaded up Mr. Orlin Van Duyne's "Twice Rescued Pearl" on my little trailer and brought it back to the farm to add to the collection. Since this press was twice rescued from the scrap yard - and since we like the idea of having a working 7x11 Model 11 Pearl to print on, we think we'll keep this one for the permanent collection. No worries, though; there are two others still awaiting restoration for resale to support this humble museum...
A New Press & "A New Generation of Letterpress Printers"
Rogena purchased the first new true 7x11" Excelsior Pilot Press from Louis at Excelsior Company in Rhode Island. She's an experienced printer - with a background including floor-standing C&Ps and even a Heidelberg Windmill. But now it's time for something smaller. The Excelsior Pilot was just the press to suit her new shop layout (at home)
She also thought that it was time to get her grandchildren some experience with the layout of the California Job Case. In this photo, they are beginning to sort type into a 3/4 -sized California Job Case.
June 27 -
Lauren came back to visit and pick up some supplies. She brought her new son along as well - and started him off early with the composing stick!
Lauren & The Young Type Setter - to-be. ---->>>>>
Update: (2016) Lauren's shop has grown way beyond the 5x8 Kelsey she started with. First, it was a 7x11 Pearl, and then she moved up to a 10x15 C&P and foil stamping equipment. Another novice visitor who has become a PRO...
Lauren's website is at http://DarlingandPearl.com
June 28 Our 9th Wedding Anniversary, and Cathy is still putting up with me! ;)
Also - just found this link to a cool article about Fiona Otway and Kiss the Paper - http://www.selfreliantfilm.com/2012/04/
Sorry, but I just gotta add this line from the interview with Fiona:
"At one point, your film�s subject Alan says, �Technology moves towards efficiency, but art moves towards emotion and feeling.� Your cinematography, which turns heavy, oily letterpress machinery into a cinematic poetry of sorts, would seem to agree. Is this an edict that you feel accurately describes your work? How so?"
July 1 - Typographic Puns
Well, I really hate to do this, but I can't help myself....
There is just something about typographic puns....
My friend Jim sent me these images via email recently - and I just had to share them...
I think that this one to the left is clever - although I did groan at the intended pun - but then I laughed.
And, I think the one to the right is also clever, if a bit arrogant. Yes, Comic Sans is "laid back" and somewhat non-corporate, but it is neat and clean. And, besides - to me, the world has already seen too much Arial..
In color, and when a knowledgeable typographer plays with sizes, weights, color and background, real Helvetica can be appealing. And Helvetica does indeed have distinguished Bauhaus heritage, but Arial has been co-opted by Microsoft and I, for one, am tired of it for many reasons... But, I must admit that at least they didn't use Old English in all caps...
August 1, 2012:
I've added a new page to the web site. It's about "The Swedish Connection" of the Excelsior Press - going all the way back to 1798.... The Swedish Connection - enjoy!
September 1, 2012
Well, big news, indeed as August turns to September, and Cathy & I turn from being renters to being land owners. Yes, one of the biggest days in our lives has finally arrived. We have finally purchased our own home - (built in 1952, but pristine and solid) on 3.47 beautiful acres in Kingwood Township - 2 miles from Frenchtown, NJ - and miraculously *directly across the road* - literally 500 yards as the crow flies - or tractor drives - from the barn where the Excelsior press has operated since 1986.
And - the wide "Pumpkin Pine" floorboards in the house were saved & recycled by Ed Meyers sometime prior to 1950 - from an older building in Frenchtown. They must have already been 50-100 years old when he saved them... He used them in his home - which is now our home - and they are, indeed beautiful.
Preparing for this day - and all of the planning, bookkeeping and research that has gone into our 18-month search for a larger home has finally paid off. And, we found just the house we had begun looking for when we got married nearly 10 years ago; a smaller house on a larger piece of land with fields and trees - on a good road with a long gravel driveway, backed up by woods and farms, with nice neighbors.
We found it. We bought it - and it wasn't easy. We ain't rich, but we do work hard and we have scrimped and saved (& sold one of the Vandercooks...) We also plan (over the next few years) to build a new barn/shop to house the Excelsior Press and the wood & metal-working shops where we now make parts and fix presses.
So *that's* why I have not responded to so many emails and contact form requests for information, training, supplies & equipment over the past many months. This was my primary project. And, boy was it all-consuming...
Now I must - and finally can - make the time to apologize to all who are waiting to hear from me and who may have thought that I didn't want to help. I do. I did and I still do. But I have had a pretty important "family matter" to deal with - like finding us a home where we all can fit... My wife, our daughter and my wife's mother. - Plus the three dogs - who love the new place and the cat who's moving there tonight ...
We did it. Once we're done moving I plan to get back on track and back on schedule and have lots of fun printing and helping others to print. Thanks to all who have patiently waited for this project to reach it's conclusion.
September 1, 2012
I don't often post large photos here on the blog, but as you might imagine from the previous post, making a new web page for this photo would take more time than I have tonight.
So here it is; an Early Series 10x15 C&P in its modern environment.
Imagine what the guys who ran this press back in 1910 would think of where "their" press wound up.
Looks to me like a work of art in a gallery...
Great lighting, btw...
Photo by Sim Stallman in Chicago.
Passed on to us by Rick Hawkins of http://www.letterpressmachinery.com/
October 5, 2012
Well, October 1 came and went and I am still not back to work in the shop. But I am setting up home office/shop operations in the new rather large garage at Casa Runfeldt. It will be a few years before the new Excelsior Press barn gets built over there next to the garage, but that's no problem, because now we live just across the road from the farm where the shop is. It's so close - only about 500 yards - that I could walk to work - or better yet, drive over using one of the two Cub Cadets that came with this place.
Final chore at the old place is to trailer over one of the Cubs and give that little 1/2 acre lawn the last-of-the-season trim I promised my former landlord that I would do when we left. I used to think that lawn was large, but that's when I was cutting it using a walk-behind mower, and it took a few hours. Now that I cut the lawn with a riding mower - a Cub Cadet with a 48" deck, that little lawn will be done quickly. It sure seems small compared to the 3.47 acres of our new home.
So. A few more days and I'll be back to work in the shop on a daily basis. First, I've got 4 cartons of forms to number and receipt books to make, then it's back to making Chase-Bases, restocking my inventories and filling orders for other parts and supplies. And then, I'll get back to work on the "Kelsey Cuts" book that's been lingering in the shop during the past two years as I've been focused on one thing - making this home & land purchase possible. And, believe me, it has not been easy.
It will be nice to get back to printing. I miss it.
And to all of you who have been patiently waiting for my email response during these "silent months" of August & September; I will be spending quite a bit of time in coming months doing my best to catch up and respond to your inquiries.
October 10, 2012
Expansion of the machine shop:
Something unplanned, but long looked forward to: We will be moving the new (very old) Bridgeport Milling Machine into the shop sometime this week or next. We plan to use it to machine replacement press parts. Now that our rather lengthy 2-plus year "home purchase" project is accomplished, it's time to move on - and equip the machine shop at the Excelsior Press with the tools we need to actually fabricate replacement parts for antique presses. We added a new lathe in July and now a better drill press and this Bridgeport. All we need now is the time to use these new tools. We'd worked with a few other people on projects related to making new parts over the years but it has not worked out as hoped. ... Perhaps now it will...
One problem which became readily apparent is that it's hard to build a sustainable system of supplying replacement parts if all costs are dependent upon jobbing out short-run custom machine work; it's expensive and not practical. Machinists often cringe when they see us coming with one or two odd parts to make and a limited budget. Either they cringe or they become very friendly. But then, costs can be astronomical, and we simply have never had the capital to lay out for more efficient production of parts which may or may not sell. I figure that only by doing it ourselves can it be sustainable to supply parts at reasonable prices. We'll see...
Kelsey used a Bridgeport when they made their presses. We hope to use this machine to finish castings so that we can realize the long-deferred dream of fabricating replacement parts ourselves. And besides, what's the big difference between running a Heidelberg Windmill and a Bridgeport Milling Machine, after all? ;)
Fiona Otway's video documentary Kiss the Paper (filmed at The Excelsior Press) is finally coming around to the end of its festival circuit, probably only a few more screenings left to go. The film will be playing in New York City for the first time on November 15th at a really great festival called DOCNYC. We plan to leave our quiet rural life for a day in the City to join Fiona and see how it's received in the Big Apple...
Meanwhile, for anyone in or near Colorado, KTP will also be shown the at the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Fest on Nov. 3rd.
October 29-31, 2012
Well, a little bit of rain, a whole LOT of wind. Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Post-Tropical "Super Storm" Sandy passed by our region (Hunterdon County, NJ) on Sunday and Monday. We're fine. The shop is intact, however without electricity for the time being. Trees are down, power is off at the farm; power stayed on at home.
The tree shown here blocked our quaint gravel lane until our neighbor George came by with his handy little rough-terrain forklift and we went to work with the chainsaw.
This tree is now a neatly stacked pile of firewood. That guy with the chainsaw is Alan the Printer/Homeowner/Woodsman/survivor of Superstorm Sandy. Short story; we're fine. Many of our neighbors have not done so well. I think it's safe to say that we'll be preoccupied this week with storm cleanup & helping our friends & neighbors. When there's something worth posting about the print shop (like when the power is restored), it will become the next entry to this blog.
Thanks to all of our friends and family who sent us moral support from around the country - and the world. - AND, to our new neighbors George & Tammy and John & Tina for their help & support during and after the storm.
November 12, 2012
Power has been restored! We have electricity! After nearly two weeks without regular electrical power on the farm, we are now connected to the grid - with all the benefits (full power throughout the shop, 24x7...)
Of course, there's an ironic twist to this story... After loaning my trusty old generator to a friend who didn't realize that it was *very important* to check the oil every few hours, my generator quit working to run his house. The gen had run out of oil and snapped the rod or crankshaft... Long story short, he spent the next week staying with us at our house until his power was restored. Feeling bad about what happened to my generator, and having a "rain check" from Harbor Freight for a generator (an item that has been nearly impossible to buy early anywhere around here for the past few weeks), he surprised us the other day with a new replacement 4kw generator ! (What a guy!). Although we had power at home, the farm has been without steady power since the storm hit - nearly two weeks ago. There is a 4-cylinder generator on the farm, but it's WWII Army surplus and is really in need of some major service - like a carburetor. So it has not been running at all for the past few days.
This means no lights, no power to run the presses - and the jobs I am running - jobs I *must* get done on the Windmill - are a bit much for the treadle-operated Pearl or Gordon...
So, today, I re-wired the 220 circuit to run the Heidelberg via generator power. Done that before; no big thing.
But, wouldn't you know it. After running for about 3 hours on the generator, the line men (out-of-state crews from Detroit and Erie, PA) arrived and within 1/2 hour had fixed the bad lines on the farm, and now, we have power. So much for the generator and all I went through getting it working to run the Heidelberg; we don't need it any more (at least not just now)...
But we are back to full power in the print shop. Time to start catching up again with all of those backlogged orders....
December 7, 2012
We had a call from our friend Carl Smith from the Fieldston School about an ink disk for the old 1873 Kelsey Excelsior Press. He'd gotten a press, but it's lacking an ink disk, so he asked if we could make one for him as Tony Weber had done for the Hocolme Museum's old Victor last spring. This meant that it was about time to unpack the 1873 3x5 Excelsior that we acquired in May of 2011. (Yeah, I know it's been a while, but we been busy...) So, we finally extracted this precious old press from the expanding foam cocoon that protected it in shipping. We finally got a close-up look of this old classic and learned a lot about this unique and very old press. There is so much to show, that I've created a new web page for The Original 1873 Design of the Kelsey Excelsior Press
Had some interesting questions about an old Damon & Peets "Favorite" Press the other day. In composing a reply, I was inspired to begin a page on The Favorite Press. I'll post it soon and link to it from here as well as from our General Press Information section.
December 26, 2012
I guess we had our own "Amazon Christmas Rush" - quite a few folks hit me at pretty much the last minute to get letterpress-related Christmas gifts for the printer in their life. I had packages going off to all corners of the country - type cases to VA, a Chase-Base from an uncle in Missouri for a Philadephia printer who was spending Christmas in New Hampshire, another Chase-Base - our first for the Kelsey 9x13 for another Philadelphia printer purchased as a gift by a friend in NYC... Furniture kits to Connecticut, gauge pins to Washington State... - even a last-minute rush of some cards for the boyfriend of one printer from Miami whose press is at her mother's - an hour away. I had fun printing them on my Pearl.... I even got one another order for gauge pins on their way within an hour - and that was as my wife was dragging me out to do some Christmas shopping of our own.
And, I'm happy to report that Santa arrived on time for them all. A few tracked orders showed up on Christmas Eve, but most slid down their respective chimneys on Friday and Saturday. USPS 2-3 day Priority Mail Flat Rate shipping did a good job for us this year...
Also been working on another new web page - this one is about the interesting and enlightening History of the Pilot Press.
Watch for a link to it soon.
The next few days will be the wrap-up of 2012... In our new home, Christmas was great. We even burned our own Yule Log out in the fire ring on the back porch - on a snowy Christmas Eve. Got to know our new neighbors and their extended families better at a very nice Christmas Evening party we were able to walk to - through the woods with a flashlight...
Perhaps one more post to come in 2012, then it will be time to begin a new page - for a new year - in our new home - with a new, extremely optimistic outlook for the blog of 2013...
Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Print!