Mrs. Rachel Lynde (on Straw)

With all my lowercase Bodoni sorted into place, I needed a break from the pitter-pat of sorting type, and so I turned my attention back to setting the type for the (marathon) first sentence of Anne of Green Gables.

Once I got to eight lines I decided it was time to see how it was shaping up: I packed the type into the chase (not spending a huge amount of time on makeready), put some ink on the Adana Eight Five, and gave it a go. Here’s the best of about 3 dozen proofs I printed:

Partial first sentence of Anne of Green Gables letterpress printed on handmade oatmeal paper.

If you click on the image to view it in Flickr you can hover over the image to see notes about all the things that need correcting – u’s for n’s, and so on.

I used this opportunity to do a lot of experimenting with the various adjustments on the press, not all of which are well-oiled and fully-operable; I found that even tiny, tiny turns of the screw that adjusts how close the bed is to the platen (there are four of these, one in each corner), could result in one side or the other receiving no ink at all. I need to do some more experimenting with these controls to understand more about how to do it right.

I also experimented with different papers, and I’ve come to realize that the standard-issue 110 lb. white card stock from Staples is probably not the best paper to use for letterpress: it simply doesn’t have enough “give”, and so everything I print on it seems like I’m fruitlessly smashing my head against the wall. Here’s the maladjusted press printing on card stock:

Partial first sentence of Anne of Green Gables letterpress printed on card stock.

By contrast, the (much nicer) first example above was printed on HazelTree straw paper; there’s too much ink on that one, mostly because I’d over-inked the press in an attempt to have more success with the ill-fated card stock. But the oatmeal paper is about 1000% better than the card stock: the type feels like it’s biting into the paper just the right amount. I’ll have to swing by HazelTree soon to pick up more.

Meanwhile, I’m about halfway through setting the type for that first sentence, and the result should just about completely fill up the available space inside my 8 inch by 5 inch chase. Stay tuned.