Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Letterpress Saga: Part Four

It wasn't as hair-raising this time.

On New Year's Day, Nathan suddenly decided it was time to get my century-old Chandler & Price Old Style platen press out of storage, where it's been snoozing in climate-controlled comfort since our move from Seattle, and into our garage.

He called a few tow-truck/wrecker companies before he found a guy willing to tackle the job. We learned from bitter (and terrifying) experience that you need a forklift or a tow truck to get this monster from one level to another. We've also learned not to tackle it alone.

This time Nathan and John-the-tow-truck-guy used a pallet jack to get it on the back of the truck and used ratchet straps to tie it ten ways to the bed. Then we held our breath all the way from D'Iberville to our house, with Nathan saying helpful things like "It's gonna come off this corner for sure" and "There it goes".

At home, they strapped the press base to the pallet jack, raised the bed and used the winch to inch the press down to the garage. I was holding my breath, but not having conniptions like last time.

It's now safe and sound in my soon-to-be letterpress workshop in the back half of our garage, ready for its grand makeover. There's a lot of work ahead involving drill bits, oil holes, 3-in-1, fine-grade steel wool and WD-40, and no doubt some silent swearing.

It'll be worth it though. I've dreamed of this forever.


Renee said...

It's so beautiful.. I can't wait to see the awesome stuff you come up with! I'm sure all the struggle will be worth it :)

Helen | Pepperina Press said...

Jen... to sum up what letterpress is (hard to do without writing a book!) I'll quote:

"Letterpress began in Europe in the 14th century as an alternative to laborious calligraphy. Type was hand cast and individual characters were hand set into lines until machine set composition made the process easier. Today, many designers are returning to the craft of letterpress — printing from custom engraved plates and metal type — as a unique option to offset printing. Letterpress offers a tactile quality and nostalgic feel that can’t be achieved with any other technique."

Jen said...

It looks like a great machine, what does it do?

Helen | Pepperina Press said...

BetteJo... I bought and moved this letterpress right before we moved from Seattle to the South, so I've never had it working. The "overhaul" it needs is merely thorough cleaning and oiling, a bit of love and care – and a new feed table! (Let's just say the old feed table "retired"...)

As for knowing how to make it work, here are the steps I've followed:
1) Research
2) Research
3) Research
4) Pestering many kind-hearted experts (they never seem to consider it "pestering" because they're passionate about passing on their craft)
5) Lessons – only had one so far
6) Trial and error
7) Lots of courage!

That about sums it up...

BetteJo said...

Is this something you had working before it went into storage? Just curious as to how you know how to make it work if it needs an overhaul. I, of course, have never seen anything like it and have no idea what makes it go!

GreenSpaceGoods said...

Oh I'm so jealous! I've been collecting letterpress blocks for ages! We don't have a press though. I agree with renne- can't wait to see what you do!