Thursday, December 17, 2015

Printshop holiday -- typesetting!

Our local Portland Museum has been doing a series of exhibits on books and printing and as a grand finale, got a grant for a two-day workshop where a small group of us got to do our own printing.  When I heard about it I jumped at the opportunity to hand-set some type and put it on the press.

When I was in journalism school in the 60s we were required to hand-set type in a fabulous shop that held the personal type collection of Frederic Goudy, the master type designer who bequeathed all his stuff to Syracuse University.  I am heartbroken to report that the University subsequently threw most of it away.  Perhaps you have run into some of Goudy's typefaces in your travels; the standard Word array includes Goudy Old Style, a classic Roman face.  But I digress.

I loved to set type and during that class I pretty well memorized the layout of the California job case, just as typists memorize the QWERTY keyboard.  I can't say that I remembered anything of the layout when I got back in the printshop last week, but I did remember how to hold the stick, load the type and proofread the line (you hold it upside-down and read left to right). And after a few minutes at the case the layout was easy to use.  When we weren't using the press I spent my waiting minutes cleaning up the job case -- finding lots of letters in the wrong place and putting them back where they belong.

Our workshop leader was Gray Zeitz, who runs the Larkspur Press, a fine printing operation just up the road from us.  Here he is setting type and operating the Vandercook press.

The first day, we typeset and printed a poem.  I'll tell you about the second day tomorrow.

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