Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Longterm Goal - the Printing Press

I have been interested in linocutting, printing, book making and typeface for a very long time.

When I was in college, a class on medieval art really piqued my interest in illumination (to the point of that the other day I was watching Ultimate Fighter with my husband and actually squealed when I noticed one of the guys had a Chi-Rho tattoo on his shoulder. Kinda sad.) I think its that language and symbolism thing that gets me. (speaking of which, the parts of "In the Name of The Rose" where Umberto Eco talks about manuscript copying was, in some ways, more interesting than the storyline to me)

Books bring ideas forward through history. Printing distributes ideas to more people in far flung places. That's the big picture aspect. Different from painting where the original is unique and influential in a very localized way. (let's all agree to ignore our digital surroundings for now, it's more fun) linocuts and engravings make art accessible, almost disposable - takes the pressure off.

Then you get into the stuff that gets me up in the morning. Pressing blades into lines, smoothing black ink onto glass. Handling paper so as to not make a smudge. Anticipation on what the end result will look like. If I close my eyes I can smell it, hear it, feel it.

Some years ago, some dear friends were moving. They entrusted me with a printing press that they were planning to revive. I know nothing about these kinds of machines (this one in particular being a Kelsey Excelsior 6 x 10). I had done printmaking in high school using a big table press, but nothing like this with rubber rollers, mounting chase and multiple moving parts.

We kept it out of the elements and dutifully moved it with us, finding it a new basement hiding spot. It would haunt me though, knowing its potential.

So. Slowly I've been building up my courage to outfit this thing properly. I'm super intimidated by it. It needs new rollers and I don't have any type to set - but the machine itself is in great condition. I'm reading up on how all this works. I know somehow I will be able to mount linocuts in there, so I'm practicing my linocutting. Working up my nerve to email some places that can give me advice on how to get this cool little machine up and running.

Still painting and prepping for the show in January, but this I can chat about now.

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