Some of you know that I have been carrying around a Kelsey Excelsior tabletop platen letterpress for about a million years. It was given to me by a good friend who thought I would be able to get some use out of it.
This press was not very pretty or shiny and the rubber rollers were deteriorated to the point of being completely unusable. I had no type, quoins, furniture and no clue what to do to get this thing running. However, the idea of having it running stuck.
So, over the last few years, while I have had a chance to, I've been quietly pursuing this side project. A lot of my information has been from digging around online and following interesting presses on social media. I couldn't have done this without help though.
I've made a few machine inclined/pressmen friends over the past couple years especially who have been very generous with their time either in person or in email helping me suss out parts, giving me suggestions on cleaning and repairs and even gifting me things that will help me get started. This has been very encouraging and motivating, every bit of information has been useful. (Thanks guys!)
So, right before Christmas I came to the point of being able to start locking stuff in the chase and using the press. Below are some shots of the first lino I mounted and pulled an even-ish (albeit light toned) print from. I am so excited to jump into phase two of this project.
While I'm at this part of the journey, it feels a lot like Narnia...
"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now...Come further up, come further in!” - C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
I need to come further up and further into this world of printing presses!
I have a fresh set of rollers that I haven't printed with yet, and I have a few things to do before I can start locking up typeface. Furniture, spacers, a decent composing surface, composing stick are a few things I'm on the hunt for. Need to start immersing myself in the printing aspect now that the mechanical aspect is getting there. I love it, it is like a new chapter unfolding!
This is a shot of me attempting to level out the printing surface. Those big pieces of wooden typeface locked up in the corners needed to contact the paper somewhat evenly. Kind of tricky with an okayish composing surface.
This picture makes me so happy. It is a pre-mounted lino block that was close enough to type high that I could shim it up with a little cardstock. Finally this press looks like it does something besides sitting lonely and neglected in my basement!
Squeal! It worked! Even though the print was pretty light (I just hand inked the lino with a brayer so I could press an even image) It still worked!!!!
Baby steps! I'm excited to get better at doing this. Thanks to all the people who have helped in so many ways to get me to this step.