Category Archives: letterpress

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

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

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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Filed under Events, letterpress

A Klischograph

I was lucky enough to be invited to the MOTAT 3 site this morning for a tour of the new storage facility. MOTAT moved storage sites about a year ago and the new storage facility is still a work in progress. MOTAT’s entire collection was inventoried during the move (a considerable feat!) but further work is needed to assess every object. MOTAT for so long was a bit of a dumping ground for donations of objects the general public think is important (which is a special attribute in and of itself). So there are a lot of duplicates, and a considerable sample set of particular objects (lawn mowers and christening gowns are apparently the most common donations). I loved the sample range of sewing machines and typewriters. It was incredible to see the extraordinary breadth and depth of the MOTAT collection. It will be very exciting when MOTAT’s collections online goes live.

As a member of MOTAT’s print team, I was especially interested to see what print gear was in storage. The highlight of the visit was discovering we have a nearly operational Klischograph.

 The Klischograph is an engraving machine – it produces half tone printing plates ‘cliches’ for letterpress printing. It was initially intended for small newspaper printing houses in place of larger and the more involved 3 step processes of producing photo plates for printing. The Klischograph combined the three step process into one machine: process camera, glass screen, metal printing and etching. It was developed the early 1950s, and we expect the version we have at MOTAT, the K150, was from the mid to late 1950s (we know that the the K151 was produced in 1959).

Today we use photopolymer plates in place of klischograph produced plates in letterpress printing. But if we can get this machine back into working order, we will be able to demonstrate how photo and image plates were made before photopolymer plates in our print shop – it is a question we are so often asked!

But even more exciting – we will be able to make new printing blocks to print!

 

(Photo from the manufacturer’s website – when our klischograph moves into the print shop, I can post a picture of it)

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Filed under letterpress

I am like your grammar

A couple of weeks ago we finished printing ‘I am like your grammar’ by Lisa Samuels and I was able to hand over copies. I really love this photo because usually there’s just a quick process of handing over the printing. But I was able to spend some time with Lisa as she saw the print for the first time.

I had a really great time printing this one. Lisa’s poetry opens up so many opportunities and my initial ideas for the design completely changed as the print developed. More pictures below of the print and the design and printing process.

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Filed under letterpress, Poetry, Printmaking, Typography

asemic letterpress

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20/08/2018 · 9:36 pm

waterlines: a letterpress print

Early in April I printed one of my poems – waterlines – at MOTAT. I designed and handset it, and it was printed on a Heidelberg Platen by Ian Barnes. It is a limited edition of 37 copies which I am selling to fundraise for a number of photopolymer plates for some other letterpress poetry projects I have coming up.

I’m selling the prints for $10 (a total bargain for a letterpress art print!) plus postage. Get in touch if you’d like a copy.

Thank you to New Zealand Pacific Studios; this poem began while I was staying at Normandel House as the Ema Saikō fellow in Nov/Dec last year.

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Filed under letterpress, Poetry, Printmaking

He Whakaritenga Hōu / A New Setting

For the last 6 years I have been sneaking poetry pieces into the print queue in the MOTAT Print Shop. Well at first I was sneaking them in, but as time as gone on, the poetry we print has become a big part of what we do in the Print Shop. Last Friday saw the opening of an exhibition that celebrates those works we have printed. The exhibition is also about the Māori typecase I have been working on for the last 18 months, and showcases the ‘Kia ora Te Reo’ booklet we made this year for Māori language week.

The opening was a real treat, our guests were a mixture of Auckland based poets and poetry lovers alongside the MOTAT team who had a hand in putting the show together. It was a huge team effort and I was honoured to have my design and typesetting on show.

Here are a few photos from the opening event:

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Filed under Events, letterpress, Poetry, Printmaking

Talking about te reo Māori & letterpress

Since finalising the new jobbing typecase for setting in te reo Māori late last year, I’ve been plodding along setting bits and pieces. Namely the MOTAT Māori language booklet for te wiki o te reo Māori (11th – 17th September ’17) and a poem by Vaughan Rapatahana.

But in the lead up to tēnei wiki, I’ve been chatting to people about the project and what printing in te reo means for me. Below are two recent videos about the case and letterpress printing in te reo Māori.

This is an animated interview with the excellent and talented Sam Orchard! He’s such a great interviewer, I was so at my ease! Thanks Sam!

And this next one is a video from MOTAT, where they filmed what I’ve been getting up to in the print room (I was way more nervous for this one!)

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Filed under letterpress, Poetry

Ema Saikō Poetry Fellowship

I am so excited! I was awarded the 2017 Ema Saikō Poetry Fellowship, which is a residency at the New Zealand Pacific Studio in the Wairarapa. I will be there for three weeks in November.

I’ll be working on a series of landscape poems which will take the form of text as well as mark-making and calligraphic work.  These works will go towards a small hand printed chapbook which I will be printing with the team at MOTAT in early 2018 (all going well).

The fellowship is in honour of Ema Saikō, a Japanese poet, painter and calligrapher from the late Endo period. The picture on the right is a portrait she painted sourced from here.
I’d also like to acknowledge the fabulous poet and typographer Ya-wen Ho who was an Ema Saikō fellow last year.

So watch this space in November for some updates!!

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Filed under Art, Art Books / Zines, letterpress, Poetry