Introduction to Letterpress

Wednesday 2nd October: Introduction to Letterpress

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Letterpress is a direct relief print method, meaning that a design is printed by transferring ink from plate to paper.
The group were each given a verse from the Lewis Carroll poem; Jabberwocky. Keen Children’s Literature readers, both Stephine and I were aware of the poem and its author, so chose to work together on the task.
“Jabberwocky” is a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll about the killing of a creature named “the Jabberwock”. Included in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The book tells of Alice’s adventures within the back-to-front world of Looking-Glass Land.

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In The Life of Lewis Carroll (1932), an early Carroll biographer, Langford Reed, stated: “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was an individual who, through his rare and diversified literary gifts and power of communication, left an indelible mark upon the imaginations of children and adults both during his generation and in generations to come.”

With the original of the poem being Victorian and Reed’s use of the words “indelible mark” in mind the tactile quality of letterpress seemed very appropriate. We didn’t stop there, having access to more than 50 fonts at UWE’s proofing press room Stephanie and I came up with the idea of mixing the fonts to emphasise the disjointed imagery in the poem. Below you can see our result in the first stanza compared to the uniform font in the stanza below it.

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Executing this effect took a lot more thinking than originally expected, but also lead to more ideas forming. Firstly, we discovered “typesetter”, setting letter by letter and line by line had to be done upside-down to make sure the type was backwards in a composing stick, a mechanism which holds several lines, so the print is correctly orientated on the paper when transferred. As a result, we had to ensure we chose font types of the same size to sit firmly in the composing stick. We choose 24pt, which was slightly less than the 30pt originally recommended by our technician to give us more space to manipulate on the final image. We generated our font choice at random, again to emphasis the impression of chaos and unconformities of Wonderland. Selecting by blindly picking from three fonts meant we had to record a number to each letter and character, mapping our result to return the fonts correctly at the end. Apart from the start of each line, capitalisation we also selected at random by adding a dot to a number in our blind selection. We considered the use of irregular spacing, but this caused too much white space and overly disrupted the readability of the stanza creating a river of white in the text, a serious consideration that has to be thought over in any letterpress task. Instead, the decision to add additional spacing before the word “shun” as if shunned away, worked well.

However, we also reflected that the character of Alice at this point in the novel is in the “back-to-front world” sparking the idea to purposely reverse and capitalise the “C” in “catch” to look like the letter is trying to catch the “cat” part of its full form, and the misspelling of “claws” with a “K” as this letter is a sharper form than a “c” indicating sharp, dangerous claws of the Jabberwock.

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The type of depth is dependent on the paper. Typically Letterpress papers are thick and soft to allow the type to create a deep impression, which gives tangible evidence of the printing process.
Maximal control over the quality of the print is apeling, many of our group seemed to like letterpress for that. I found the method of compositor gradually to build out the text of an individual page letter by letter difficult and brian taxing. The risk of “furniture” popping out violently from the press scared me in honesty. What I did love was the colours are true and vibrant, and the lines are sharp. Digital printing is done by accumulating groups of small dots to produce the image. While the resolution of the dots is usually small enough that the resulting print looks “close enough,” we can see the difference, especially when viewed side by side.
Dark ink on a light paper gives the best image. Inks are translucent, and the paper colour will show through. For light colours on dark paper, foil stamping or engraving should be used instead of Letterpress. Building up the colour density of a specific colour can be achieved with Letterpress pieces run through the press two times using the same colour, but again this is a risk on registration moving. However, the risk is the lowest in all our manual print techniques thanks to the methods and mechanisms involved.

The chances of using Letterpress outside of UWE is debatable. Presses are being discarded by commercial print shops and becoming affordable and available to artisans throughout the country. There is currently a viable sales market for this form of print.
“Letterpress publishing has recently undergone a revival in the USA, Canada, and the UK, under the general banner of the ‘Small Press Movement’. Renewed interest in letterpress was fueled by Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, which began using pictures of letterpress invitations in the 1990s.” (Pertwee, 2019)
I do think I will be using this form as publishing and illustration are hand-in-hand. Learning this process has helped me think more about page layout and text as a part of the illustration itself. More investigation on my part is needed.
I do understand this process a lot more now having used it form myself, and I better appreciate the use/effectiveness of the text.

We also had a chance to use the Albion press, which is an early iron hand printing press, designed and manufactured in London by Richard Whittaker Cope around 1820. It works by a simple toggle action. Originally used for commercial book-printing until the middle of the nineteenth century, now it is mostly artisans who use them for proofing, jobbing work and by private presses for art projects.
I thought it might be fun to use the woodblock letters to help me start a poster image for the 1976 science fiction film Logan’s Run. The showdown scene between Logan 5 and Francis 7 always reminded me of 19th Century American Western genre, so, I chose the Slab Serifs font mixed with the smaller LHF Becker font to reflect that drama visually. I plan to use the large “0” to represent the tunnels used to flee the city in the film. Logan’s Run explores utopian and dystopian themes. The 1970s were dubbed the “Me Decade” by writer Tom Wolfe. An important concept expressed in the film is “the dangers of hedonism” (Wolfe,1976), meaning youth worship. Sexual freedom and seeking pleasure or luxury at whatever cost of the 1970s has also reflected in the current social demographic term “Millennials”. I’m interested in exploring this link and what effect hedonism has on a cohort of people.

Hartlebury Castle (The Bishop’s Palace)

The land that Hartlebury Castle sits on was granted to the Bishop of Worcester by King Burghred in the late 9th century, although the foundations of the building that now stands here are believed to date back to the 13th century. 

Since the 12th century, it has been a centre of ecclesiastical and administrative power in Worcestershire with its resident bishops involved in some of the significant events of British history from political and military guardians of a frontier with Wales to active participants in political decision making in modern times.

The building is grade 1 listed and it contains the famous Hurd Library was built by Bishop Hurd in 1782. It still contains his extensive and unique collection of books including works from the libraries of Alexander Pope and William Warburton. The copy of the Iliad from which Pope’s translation was made is among them.

The grounds include a period cider mill, A Transport Gallery which has amazing Romney Gypsy wagons and The Worcestershire County Museum which houses the servants’ quarters of Hartlebury Castle. The house also has the period rooms which displays including a schoolroom, nursery and scullery, and Victorian, Georgian and Civil War rooms. The exhibits focus on local history and include toys, archaeology, costumes, crafts by the Bromsgrove Guild, local industry, and area geology and natural history. You are now able to walk along the old moat and enjoy local produce at the shop. 

We had a fantastic time, and hope you will take a trip to Hartlebury Castle too.

 

Writer’s Statement.

Writer’s Statement.

I’m Seraphim Bryant and I write for young adults who like thrillers and a bit of fantasy. Also, I write and illustrate picture books in young children’s fiction which are frequently about social issues and citizenship.

My style is very open, it’s quite conversational. This is because I like people so much and I love talking to them about their life, theories, and what their passions are.

That that’s how my writing often sounds; I write like a person who is telling you a story about what they’ve witnessed. The tone of my work can be quite serious, but I always have a dash of humour. Humour and love are essential in my writing because It’s my belief that life itself is full of humour and held together by love; it’s how people survive though hard times and massive challenges. I want my characters to go through parts of a real life too.

I was brought up on traditionalist writers like Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and stories from the Bible. I was very lucky to be read to as a child by my dad. These writers gave me a great sense of imagination, of new worlds, and the importance of people’s values and beliefs. Unfortunately, I was very sick child in my early years so I didn’t have a lot of schooling and this made be very slow to learn to talk, to read and ultimately communicate with the written word. For a long time, I struggled, and avoided reading.

Thankfully, in high school an amazing English teacher, Mr Young took the time to know me. He would constantly give the books that he knew I wouldn’t put down. This meant I felt compelled to read and I was launched into high fantasy, Gothic fiction and thrillers. From famous writers like Stephen King and Piers Anthony, to new writers at the time such as Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Christopher Paolini, Phil Pullman and Sally Green. My head was now full of stories, stories and escapism that I wanted to hear for myself. Ideas of the kinds of magic that I thought would interest me. Until I felt duty-bound to write too. This lead me into a degree in Creative writing and Illustration, bonding my two passions into production.

This is why I write, read, and I love, young adult fiction and I’m sure I will be buried with a children’s novel in hand.

SB

 

 

Why do you write?

Why do you write what you write?

Why does it matter that you write?

Why do you put the time and effort into writing?

What are you trying to convey to readers through your writing?

What do you want your writing legacy to be?

How did you become a writer?

What About Raymond Carver?

Though Raymond Carver published only a handful of books in his lifetime, he is often considered one of the great American short story writers. Debate still exists as to whether to consider Carver a minimalist for his frequent use of sparse language, a voice of the working class for his commitment to ‘ordinary’ characters, or a champion of “dirty realism” for his frank depictions of modern American life. But no matter how you might regard his work, Carver’s legacy and reputation have only grown since his death in 1988, at the age of 50.

“Well, of course I had to keep him on a leash,” his mother, Ella Carver, said much later — and seemingly without irony. Mrs. Carver might have had the right idea. Like the perplexed lower-middle-class juicers who populate his stories, Carver never seemed to know where he was or why he was there.

Born in Oregon in 1938, Carver soon moved with his family to Yakima, Wash. In 1956, the Car­vers relocated to Chester, Calif. A year later, Carver and a couple of friends were carousing in Mexico. After that the moves accelerated: Paradise, Calif.; Chico, Calif.; Iowa City, Sacramento, Palo Alto, Tel Aviv, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Cupertino, Humboldt County . . . and that takes us up only to 1977, the year Carver took his last drink.

His two passions were stories (which he failed to get published despite a strong work ethic for submissions) and Maryann Burk, a local girl four years his junior. When his parents moved to California for work, Carver already had the plans in motion for their marriage.

The relationship between Raymond and Maryann would define much of Carver’s life. Within two years of marriage, they’d had two children, Christine and Vance. Most of their early life was fraught with financial difficulty. Carver’s passion for writing was intense, but was at odds with his disdain for any other kind of work. As such, Maryann tended to act as breadwinner, usually through waitress jobs, as she supported Carver’s attempts to get recognized and also his attempts to earn a college degree, a goal thwarted by both financial trouble and Carver’s insecurities.

Carver’s most important break came through a long-time friend, Gordon Lisch, who had become an editor at Esquire. Through the connection, Carver published his first major-press collection, the Lisch-edited Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? In the years following, he and Maryann finally separated and Carver gained control of his drinking. The book was widely praised, and it is clear in light of his biography how well he made use of the sadness and desperation he had experienced in his own life and those of his lower middle-class communities.

From there, Carver’s fortunes improved. Sober and committed, Carver published another collection – What We Talk about When We Talk About Love – and though it’s often criticized as having been too heavily edited by Lisch, it won even more acclaim than the previous collection. Along with another poetry book (Fires), Carver then prepared his final collection of all-new stories, considered by many to be his masterpiece: Cathedral. In this time, Carver met and moved in with Tess Gallagher, a poet who would eventually become his wife and partner until his death.

Financially stable through both fellowships and book sales, Carver spent his final few years cementing his reputation as a great American literary figure. His relationships with his mother, Maryann, and his children grew stronger. And then he was diagnosed with cancer.

On August 2, 1988, Carver died from lung cancer at the age of 50. He is buried at Ocean View Cemetery in Port Angeles, Washington. The inscription on his tombstone reads:

LATE FRAGMENT

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

 

His poem “Gravy” is also inscribed.

raymond-carver

 

Apocalypse Poem

Don’t stop and let me off

By SB

 

The force that kept me on my feet

now is causing my days to lengthen.

The year’s long day of so much heat.

The nightmare of the lasting darkness.

 

Life giving waters that flow away from us.

Now group at the far north and south.

We must mass and move to new countries upon

Sea-less equator that none can own.

Land that was once deep sea is the only

home left to those of loss.

 

The forces whose core carried on

to quake and rip our towers of pride.

The moon that left us for mercury,

centrifugal gravity abandoned.

 

Beta-blocked gravity sicken us more

than ever life’s spin could have.

So, away we must flee, for the sea

who rises up, swallow Northern-hemisphere

and her friend Australasia disappear.

 

I pray for 1,040 miles per hour a day.

 

 

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The Prize-winning Poem

The Prize-winning Poem

It will be typed, of course, and not all in capitals: it will use upper

and lower case

in the normal way; and where a space is usual it will have a space.

It will probably be on white paper, or possibly blue, but almost

certainly not pink.

It will not be decorated with ornamental scroll-work in coloured ink,

nor will a photograph of the poet be glued above his or her name,

and still less a snap of the poet’s children frolicking in a jolly game.

The poem will not be about feeling lonely and being fifteen

and unless the occasion of the competition is a royal jubilee it will

not be about the queen.

It will not be the first poem the author has written in his life

and will probably not be about the death of his daughter, son or wife

because although to write such elegies fulfils a therapeutic need

in large numbers they are deeply depressing for the judges to read.

The title will not be ‘Thoughts’ or ‘Life’ or ‘I Wonder Why’

or ‘The Bunny-rabbit’s Birthday Party’ or ‘In Days of Long Gone By’.

‘Tis and ‘twas, o’er and e’er, and such poetical contractions will not be

found

in the chosen poem. Similarly cliche´s will not abound:

dawn will not herald another bright new day, nor dew sparkle like

diamonds in a dell,

nor trees their arms upstretch. Also the poet will be able to spell.

Large meaningless concepts will not be viewed with favour: myriad is

out;

infinity is becoming suspect; aeons and galaxies are in some doubt.

Archaisms and inversions will not occur; nymphs will not their fate

bemoan.

Apart from this there will be no restrictions upon the style or tone.

What is required is simply the masterpiece we’d all write if we could.

There is only one prescription for it: it’s got to be good.

 

Fleur Adcock

 

Adcock, Fleur (1983) Selected Poems, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Worst poem ever

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Haha, (evil laughter) the task set to our class this week was to write the worst poem ever to illustrate what a poem should not be. so….

 Poorly poem

Yer, well it has been written

And it ani’t got real words in places

Some odd stanza brakes like a lot of bad poet’s mistakes

Every line starts with a capital letter and the punctuation is all over the place and it has mixed pace so you sound as if you have been training for a marathon race by the time you have got though and read to the end of the line.

Also Kev and I think is a crime not to have some kind of rhyme.

Your getting stressed about the stresses and iambic meter which you don’t know if that’s AABB or ABAB C

And well, it just

Ends.

But, it never actually ends cause you read it to your friends and they have to say well that was nice but it lacks a little in places and they have fake smiles on their faces.

So ya think you have a gooden and you send it to the Guardian and they don’t even email back and just, just, don’t know if you should have never got out of bed.

Then forget what your tutor said about cliché use and do it all again

Repeat the pain until you are a poet.

And you didn’t even know it.

Silkscreen Printing 

A screen is made of a piece of mesh stretched over a frame. A stencil is formed by blocking off parts of the screen in the negative image of the design to be printed; that is, the open spaces are where the ink will appear on the substrate.

Before printing occurs, the frame and screen must undergo the pre-press process, in which an emulsion is ‘scooped’ across the mesh and the ‘exposure unit’ burns away the unnecessary emulsion leaving behind a clean area in the mesh with the identical shape as the desired image. The surface to be printed (commonly referred to as a pallet) is coated with a wide ‘pallet tape’. This serves to protect the ‘pallet’ from any unwanted ink leaking through the screen and potentially staining the ‘pallet’ or transferring unwanted ink onto the next substrate. Next, the screen and frame are lined with a tape. The type of tape used in for this purpose often depends upon the ink that is to be printed onto the substrate. These aggressive tapes are generally used for UV and water-based inks due to the inks’ lower viscosities. The last process in the ‘pre-press’ is blocking out any unwanted ‘pin-holes’ in the emulsion. If these holes are left in the emulsion, the ink will continue through and leave unwanted marks. To block out these holes, materials such as tapes, speciality emulsions and ‘block-out pens’ may be used effectively.

The screen is placed atop a substrate. Ink is placed on top of the screen, and a floodbar is used to push the ink through the holes in the mesh. The operator begins with the fill bar at the rear of the screen and behind a reservoir of ink. The operator lifts the screen to prevent contact with the substrate and then using a slight amount of downward force pulls the fill bar to the front of the screen. This effectively fills the mesh openings with ink and moves the ink reservoir to the front of the screen. The operator then uses a squeegee (rubber blade) to move the mesh down to the substrate and pushes the squeegee to the rear of the screen. The ink that is in the mesh opening is pumped or squeezed by capillary action to the substrate in a controlled and prescribed amount, i.e. the wet ink deposit is proportional to the thickness of the mesh and or stencil. As the squeegee moves toward the rear of the screen the tension of the mesh pulls the mesh up away from the substrate (called snap-off) leaving the ink upon the substrate surface.

   

  

Using Ink

  There are many pens on the market that you can choose from. Or if you are the adventurous type you may decide to make your own from feathers the way our forefathers did. You might also try different sticks, reeds, bamboo or other exotic materials. The crow quill dip pens and metal replacement points are still a good choice.

  Many companies manufacture India Ink and the quality of each depends on the process used by each company. India Ink is a mixture of water, carbon black (lampblack) and a binder of shellac, latex and other binding materials. The finer the lampblack usually the more flowing the ink. It is also very important that use choose ink that is not water soluble unless that is a planned part of your work. I use inks that are classified as permanent and good for all surfaces. Ask your local arts supply or an artist in your community what they use.

My attempt . I used 3×0/.25mm, and 00/.30mm, nibs.



Some good help I found off the internet.

Pen and Ink Lesson 2 from Home School Arts
Line and Value



     With this media line is the most important tool you have. The closer the line the darker the drawing looks. Inversely the farther apart your line the lighter the drawing looks. Let’s take a closer look at each of these styles.


     First lets look at the straight line and the effects that this can create.


Horizontal line (example A) can create the illusion of movement from side to side. This effect can be used to create the illusion of motion or reflection in the water.
Vertical line (example B) can create the illusion of movement up and down. It can also convey the feeling of distance and atmospheric conditions.
Diagonal line (example C) can create the illusion of rotation like a planet. It generally denotes roundness and mass.



     Each of these styles also mimic old-fashioned wood or line cut prints in their appearance. Illusion is not only the purlieu of magicians but also that of the artist. Making an object look three dimensional on a flat piece of paper is almost magical but it is not. It is just a matter of perception, the way in which we see.


     In example “D” we are starting a crosshatching process and right now this drawing looks pretty flat. As we add lines as in example “E” the illusion of roundness begins to come through. The more and closer the line the more the illusion seems real. However one of the more important personal tools you can have is, knowing when to stop and how much to add.


               


     Example “F” is just about right, however notice how example “G” is much more effective in illustrating roundness than example “F”. This is a contoured crosshatch drawing. It is contoured in two directions and creates a better illusion of roundness.


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