When I first acquired my tiny Adana Eight Five letterpress last year I was a little obsessed with tuning up and cleaning the press to “perfect” condition before actually getting down to printing. Then I read a post on the excellent letterpress-focused BriarPress.org website that said, in essence, “stop fussing about and just start printing!” So I did.
It was a good idea: there’s no better way to get to know the ins and outs of a letterpress than using it for its intended purpose. It will never be perfect, and, in the end, it’s far more important to develop a personal relationship with the physics of the press than it is to make sure every washer is polished.
With this in mind, after the press sprang to life on the weekend I was eager to print something — anything — on the Golding Jobber No. 8 that’s now playing the older-brother role to the Adana. I decided that a 1947 CFCY radio coverage map loaned to me by Ian Scott and Daphne Large would be the perfect thing: it’s too big to fit on the Adana so I’ve never had a chance to print it. And it’s a pretty neat map. Here’s the result:
It’s by no means a perfect print: it’s printing on rough cardboard; I only used one of the three rollers, so the ink coverage is uneven (the white line through the announcer’s body and Eastern Kings is due to a nick in the roller); and I haven’t learned yet how to make the subtle makeready adjustments on this larger scale that even things out. But it’s still pretty neat.
Here’s a short time-lapse video I made with my iPad (using iMotion HD) that covers the 30 minutes from when I first arrived until the first print came off the press: