Tonight was my first night in the basement of The Guild taking the new Golding Jobber No. 8 letterpress for a ride, printing something actually useful (or, at least, something actual): it was printing night for the 2012 Christmas cards.
Over the weekend I set the type, a passage from A Christmas Carol. The original plan was to set it in the shape of a Christmas tree, but I couldn’t make that work on the 3”x5” index cards, so I shortened things up and set it as more of a candle or ornament shape that looked like this:
I made a proof with a rubber stamp, noting and fixing some issues (the “shut-up hearts” was set as “shus-up hearts” with a non-printing “u” for example):
With the job proofed, I set it in the larger Golding Jobber chase and, tonight, headed down to The Guild (I really do need to get “composing” and “printing” under the same roof sometime soon!). The original plan was to print the text surrounded by four lines, with ornaments, printed in red, in each corner. The vertical lines, however, proved problematic: I couldn’t adjust the job so that they were equidistant from the right and left edges, and I ended up not liking the look of the lines in any case. So I removed the vertical lines and left the horizontal ones, which made for a dramatic improvement:
I then used the awesome power of the Golding Jobber to run off 100 of these in about 10 minutes. I didn’t take very long to get into a good rhythm (and to realize that I need to recreate the old wooden “shelf” that holds work in front of the press). And then I had a pile of 100 of the black:
Next, I removed the black type from the chase and set the red ornaments in, set to appear in the four corners just touching the black horizontal lines. Things were going so well by this point, that something was bound to go wrong. Here’s as far as I got with the red:
With everything aligned almost perfectly, I moved the metal “paper holders” that swing up and down to hold the paper in place on the press a little closer to the job. I was sure that they weren’t too close. I was wrong. The result: on the next run there was a metal-metal-paper sandwich that crushed the right-hand ornaments:
In the end, with no replacement ornaments and the evening drawing to a close and Christmas only 11 days away, I had to settle for a black-and-white job and leave the fancy two-colour job-with-ornaments until another year.
The silver lining in this experience: it was the ornaments, not my nose, fingers, ears or hands, that got crushed. And I learned another layer of awesome respect for the crushing power of the press, something that I’m sure will stand me in good stead.
So you 66 Mail Me Something subscribers, your red-free cards will be in the mail to you on Wednesday; depending on your location they’ll arrive before or after Christmas. Enjoy.