Printing Te Tiriti

Sunday 24th Nov –

Proof printing Te Tiriti.

Willy Coenradi putting the locked up chase into the cylinder print bed.

Willy was the machinist working with the Cylinder KSD on Sunday morning. The first pull did not include the first 3 or 4 lines as they were off the page. We decided to move the type in the chase while it was still on the press bed. Something I won’t do again. It was difficult to wrangle the quoin key up against he rollers. The movement of the type was fine – nothing disrupted or knocked over, but there were issues after we’d taken the print.

Because this press is a flat bed, the integrity of lock up, once in the machine, is not as essential as in a clam shell press. So, because the chase was unlocked on the bed and relocked when we went to take the chase out of the machine and return it to the stone, it wouldn’t lift. And the process of locking it well enough to lift while it was still in the bed was frustrating and more difficult than it needed to be.

In working with the lock up in this way, I ended up with the treaty on my hand.

Te Tirti was in a single chase on Sunday. We took a single full proof.

Wednesday 27th Nov –

I made all of the corrections and added the colophon info at the base. The double line at he base of the text needed some inspiration. The two lines are not the same, and the double line brass rule we have did not have this variation. In the end I have gone with two pieces of single line brass rule one turned upside down which will give a thicker line. I haven’t seen this printed yet so I’m unsure if it will be sufficient.

I split the text in two. The preamble and article 1 in one case, the remaining text in the other. The second half of the text has incorrect k’s and a’s just as He Whakaputanga did. Once the first section is printed I will diss this and replace the required sorts for the second half.

We will print a second proof on Sunday 1st December and all going well the full treaty will be printed.

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He Whakaputanga: the final print

Today is the day!

In the end we printed two versions. The first on Fabriano Rosapina paper that includes all the Gill Sans Bold Italic k’s and a’s. An edition of 5.

I will be writing more on this with regards to Johanna Drucker’s Letterpress Language: Typography as a Medium for the Visual Representation of Language and the tangible aspects of language : the tangible ‘evidence’ of the inadequacies of the Latin alphabet for te reo Maori and the irreversible colonisation of the language through orthography.

The second version is printed on Rives Pale Cream 120gsm paper from B&F Papers. This time with the k’s and a’s swapped out for the standard Garamond. We were aiming for 200 copies (as per the second printing of He Whakaputanga in 1837 that this version is based on), in the end we have an edition of 216.

Machine: Heildelberg Cylinder

Machinist: Graham O’Keffee

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He Whakaputanga: printing the first three articles

Due to the lack of lower case ks, we’re printing only the first three articles today.


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Colenso’s Curios

Today I am at the Alexander Turnbull Library to see some printing ‘curios’ that belonged or were used by William Colenso in the 1830s.

The Type – I was surprised by the state of the type.
Generally ordinary, largely very clear distinct lines, no visible ink residue, discoloured black
But, I pulled out single piece, a capital A, significant damage of the ‘stem’ or ‘bulk’ of the piece of type, if not a disintegration, more likely a defect in the type casting or an anomaly in the metal composition.

This made me very nervous that it might break in half- that thought in mind and having to feel the type through gloves – it felt more vulnerable / fragile that I expected.

The nick is still visible below the defect. A curved nick as expected (angular nicks came later).

This was the only piece out of the properly packed type that I looked at.

Are all the pieces just like this?
Was this just dud type that Colenso never/barely used?
Did it only feel delicate because I wore gloves?
How low is the lead content? Usually 50-60% for handset type, is this defect more likely in higher or lower percentage lead type?
Did the type actually belong to Colenso? Afterall, all the type Colenso used belonged to the Church Missionary Society. But Robert Harding received all of Colenso’s type ‘curios’ that were in Colenso’s possession when he died. Perhaps this was type Colenso aquired after his employment with the CMS had finished. Or perhaps he took the type with him when he left for Gisborne. From Harding’s account, we know Colenso took his cases with him to Gisborne.

Other than this properly packed box of type that I couldn’t get a proper look at, there was also an additional assortment of unsorted type. The type is much later, with lots of variation in nick shape, number, depth and style.  There was also some brass rule, leading and three image blocks.

I got the most excitement out of Colenso’s composing stick:

That’s my hand holding Colenso’s comp stick. We can be more definitive about composing sticks than we can about type. If this is Colenso’s comp stick, and I believe it is, then it is almost 200 years old. Comp sticks are personal. Colenso likely learned to compose on this stick in Cornwall. He brought it here in 1834, we know this from Colenso’s own account. It is unlikely he ever had another. And so this comp stick was used to handset the print versions of He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti.

The magic of the archive!

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Te haerenga tuatahi ki Tongaporutu: an exhibition

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15/07/2019 · 10:00 pm

Printing Namecall by Rachael Naomi

We completed the print of Rachael Naomi’s ‘Namecall’ today. It was printed with a mixture of wood type, metal type, and a photopolymer plate. It was printed on the Heidelberg Platen. The type was printed in a hand mixed green/teal ink last weekend and the photopolymer plate was printed today. The paper is a hefty 300gsm and so we’ve given it quite the debossing which is of course a little hard to see in photos.


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Sail | Walk | Drown

Last year Michele Leggott, Betty Davis, Ruby Porter and I wrote a radio play based on the Emily Harris archival material we’ve been working with. This year we recorded it, and today it’s available for you to listen to online!

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Museums Aotearoa Service IQ Awards

I joined the MOTAT team at the Museums Aotearoa Service IQ Awards ceremony on Wednesday 22nd May. MOTAT was shortlisted for FIVE awards!

One of those awards was ‘Kia toi te reo’ or ‘most innovative use of te reo Māori’, for the He whakaritenga hou exhibition at the Walsh Memorial Library Nov 2017 – Mar 2018. This exhibition showcased a number of the poetry letterpress works we’ve printed in The Print Shop as well as my typecase design for the Māori alphabet. (See also Letterpress i te reo Māori, Case Layout mō te tātai reta Māori and Talking about te reo Māori and letterpress)

We didn’t win – but being shortlisted as a finalist and acknowledged eloquently in te reo Māori at the awards was win enough!

MOTAT did win Exhibition Excellence Science and Technology for the exhibition Accelerate: Driving New Zealand. Very well deserved!

Here we are with the award and finalist certificates and some odd facial expressions

Todd Dixon, Alba Letts, Steven Fox, Michael Frawley, Makyla Curtis


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soft copy update 1

Needed to leave the prints done with Betty on the 4th April to dry, set between paper. Unveiled them again today and very excited to move onto the next stage

It’s so cellular; the DNA forms might be a point of intersection between those forms and the text forms

language as the DNA of a place

cellular diagrams that has words wrapped up in mitochodria

I wonder how it would work with muka fibres from the harakeke

And unprocessed wool fibres

Printing the fibres of a place.

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Letterpress collab with Andrea Rivas

In 2016, Mexican poet Andrea Rivas translated 3 of my poems into Spanish for a Mexican Spanish language online poetry journal Circulo de Poesia. We’ve stayed in touch and last year I asked her for some poems in English to ‘translate’ into letterpress. I wanted to return the favour.

Today I began setting and designing three short poems Andrea sent me. Working in Univers Condensed 14pt, bold and medium, and an unidentified wooden typeface.

The design is process driven. An overall idea is based on copy received from the poet. After that each decision is decided in turn, each based on the one before and the type and equipment available in the print room. The final design was completely different from the initial drawing.

The next step is a proof and then adding the work to the print queue. It will be printed on the Heidelberg Platen in two colours. Paper and colours yet to be decided – decision will be based on proof prints.

Photos of the process (including a mishap with a rude and handsy customer destroying all of the work) has been posted on instagram as a way to keep Andrea within the loop of the collaboration. A proof print will be sent to her (especially since I made a line break change to accommodate handsetting constraints of 25 picas).


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