driftwood archives | reira hāraunga

driftwood archives from Makyla Curtis on Vimeo.

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Ink Herbarium

Ink Herbarium, 1500 x 3200 Nature print on cotton. Ferns collected in Taranaki 2019.

Groundwork at The Barrel Store, Corban Estate Arts Centre.

Photos by Emily Parr

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Arielle Walker, Debbie Harris, Emily Parr, Luca Nicholas, Makyla Curtis

Opening Thursday 13 February, 6-8pm
14 – 16 February, 10.30am – 4pm
The Barrel Store, Corban Estate Arts Centre

Groundwork is a collaborative show on botanical communication, undergrowth, and rootedness. Through print, poetics, textiles, ceramics and film we explore beneath and above ground for a sense of belonging through botany, in our past and our future. Roots link us through our interlaced and reciprocal practices.

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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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Filed under letterpress, Non-Fiction Interest, Printmaking, Typography

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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Filed under letterpress, Poetry

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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