I would arrive in the print shop with an empty mind and a blank canvas, and emerge, 6 or 7 hours later, with a thing. It the annals of my creativity it was a summer to bookmark.
I woke up this morning to an email from a friend that was so full of light that some of it spilled over into me. And it is Tuesday. So I rousted myself up earlier than has been my pandemic habit, and got to the print shop by 9:30 a.m. With a blank canvas.
As I stood in front of the type cabinet, wondering what to do, I looked over at a collection of bits and bobs yet to be sorted and saw T, Y, and R, three wood letters that were a gift last summer from my friend Martin.
T Y R.
T R Y.
I squirted a squirt of yellow ink onto the platen, such a pleasure, as it’s an intense yellow, the kind of yellow that you could live inside if you had to:
I flipped the motor on the letterpress on and let the rollers quietly do their work turning the squirt into a sheen:
While this was happening, I took some letter-sized card stock and cut down each sheet into four to make postcard-sized cards:
And when that was done, I set the type; not hard to do with just three letters:
I mounted the chase in the press, put in a piece of scrap paper, and made my first TRY:
This is always the most uncomfortable time of the printing process for me: imperfection. The T and R are too close together. The T and the Y are heavier than the R. And there’s not enough ink. This purgatory makes me nervous, and I set quickly to work to get closer to heaven through the makeready.
First, I buttressed the R with a rectangle of tissue paper taped underneath:
I added a shim between the T and the R to add some air, added a squidge more yellow ink, and added some additional packing to get a more satisfying print. The evolution was more satisfying:
Even more so on a postcard:
It’s hard to shoot video and to print at the same time while also staying safe, but here’s a glimpse at what printing a TRY looks like:
I was ready to print in earnest!
I zeroed the counter:
And I printed. When I was done I had 50 TRYs to dry:
Would you like a TRY? Email me your name and postal address and I’ll put one in the mail as soon as they’re dry.