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meet pamfilo castaldi, apocryphal inventor of movable type.

my dad found this on wikipedia today (ha ha). i doubt my great grandfather giuseppe from naples was descended from a 16th century castaldi in milan, but it's an interesting story. and the castaldi + letterpress connection is fun! maybe kirk and i should rename our press. pamfilo press.
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what i did in 2006:

wrote a zine, printed the cover on my new letterpress
bought rollerskates and learned how to skate
jan-july: ate healthy, worked out a lot, lost ~25lbs
applied to graduate school
tried out for the boston derby dames
spent one month skating my ass off with bdd
broke my ankle
got into harvard
spent the summer recovering from ankle surgery
spent a lot of time being depressed and anxious about ankle (and weight re-gained)
learned how to walk again
went back to school, met some amazing people there
got engaged to the love of my life on christmas eve
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preparing for the boston zine fair coming up this weekend...

litmus playground #2 covers all laid out to dry.

kirk cleaning the ink plate.

kirk's poemzine, all printed and folded and bound and ready!

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yesterday we drove out to western massachusetts, picked up [ profile] weetziefae, and drove to letterpress things in chicopee to buy more letterpress supplies! here is everything we found.

on the left, our new furniture shelf (furniture being wooden blocks of varying lengths & widths used to fill in the chase).

two boxes being used as tiny shelves for various cuts and quoins and other things.

our new type cabinet! and our new papercutter!

drawer of 18pt cheltenham wide in the new type cabinet.

drawer the 18pt cheltenham came in, now empty. it is too wide to fit in the new cabinet. maybe we will hang it on the wall to use as a shelf for tiny things?

prints of new cuts and border-bits, we tried them out this morning.

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the snow storm is not quite over - it is heaped up in the windows, between the screen and the glass, as you can see. kirk brought me tiny daffodils yesterday and they were so pretty and bright today against the whiteness.

this was today's letterpress project - a business card of sorts, with my odd little colophon. i am in the middle of changing around the persnicket press website right now. perhaps this is the horse in front of the cart cart in front of the house (i always get that backwards), but we have some projects in the works, with letterpress covers & computer-set texts.
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i've spent the last several hours working on the letterpress. the chemical cleaner arrived last night, so i made my first print! and then i cleaned up, which was a royal mess, and smelly. the prints were very simple, just to get the mechanics of it down. i am working on a more elaborate print, which will be a sort of postcard announcing the inauguration of the press -- the chase for that is on the work table in the last picture.

i now know that we desperately need a few more things to complete the shop space. a ton of rags, a table with a slanted top (to put type drawers on while pulling letters), and a level work table that can get really dirty. a printer's apron would be nice, too. we have had to keep the cats out of this room to avoid spills; maybe after the postcard project we will make a sign for the door: human printers' club, no cats allowed.

varn duplicator fluid van son ink
varn duplicator fluid

this gallon of vile stuff is a bit smelly, and the back is plastered with dire warnings about airway irritation, cancer, blah blah blah. it's basically naptha; it evaporates relatively quickly, which is a plus when you're trying to clean up sticky ink. the bottle to the right is how we'll apply it to rags.
van son ink

this is the ink we use on the press, van son black.
chase in press test image prints
chase in press

this is a simple cut (or image) set into the chase with no type. the image is actually two rabbits, it's a rabbit breeders' association seal. this is what you see looking in from above; it sits roughly horizontal.
test image prints

in order to get the ink consistency right, i did these test prints until i could see all the fine details. in the black space around the two rabbit heads is some tiny calligraphy, reading "fur, fancy, food". john showed us how to tell the difference between too much and just enough ink by listening to the sound of the rollers passing over the plate -- it is really hard to tell, so i did these test prints instead.
wash-up bottle a set chase
wash-up bottle

here is the wash-up bottle after i'd cleaned up the press for the first time. in pouring the naptha into it, it spilled in the sink, thus the paper towel and baggie treatment. i wish i'd taken a picture of my hands after cleaning, they were totally black with ink.
a set chase

the text & image for the card project, locked into the chase. altogether, this typset job took me about two hours. as you can see, it's not perfectly centered, which will mean more work later.
work table
work table

here is a view of the table where i work.

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this morning we drove east two hours to chicopee, to john barrett's letterpress things. we arrived around noon and we didn't leave for another five hours or so....john first lectured us gently, saying slow down, slow down. and then took us (and another couple, also first-timers) on an impromptu shop tour/letterpress class. we did our first impressions on a c&p in his shop, it was a heady feeling; he kept saying he wished he had a camera to show us our faces, that it was a moment we'll remember forever.

at the end of it, we left in a dazed state and with a trunk full of everything we'll need to get started. he made us promise to send him a copy of our first printing (he collects them), and also not to touch the type until we've practiced lots with a little cut (small image, like a stamp). i am so excited -- if a little exhausted, bone-weary from standing in a cold drafty warehouse all day. but so happy.

don't you want to see? )


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July 2013

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