Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adventures in Letterpress: The California Job Case

Among other things, UNM's print department is home to a Vandercook No. 2 Proof Press. It sits largely unused and unnoticed in the Lithography studio because few people know how to use it. Lucky for me, a grad student who was in the studio one night knew what she was doing and gave me a basic rundown on how to set type and get it ready to print. I've been playing with it ever since; it's so much fun!

This is the Vandercook. It's a simple press with no grippers or rollers so the inking and registration have to be done by hand. Other Vandercooks can get much fancier, but this one does the job.

Here are the typecases which use the California Job Case layout. Much of the type, however, is mismatched or unlabeled which makes for an interesting typesetting experience.

Since I wanted to set type and had nothing of value to print multiples of, I thought I might as well make an effort to make more sense of the place. I picked a typecase that was unlabeled and decided to set and print the pangram "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" along with my (somewhat) educated guess as to the size of the font. The sentence is useful because it contains every letter of the alphabet; at least then folks who open up the typecase will at least have an idea of what the font looks like.

Again, with the desire to print and nothing to say, I figured I would opt for printing promotional material, this time with the challenge of setting the type fully justified. Setting type fully justified (or flush left and right) is more difficult then just flush left because each space has to be carefully picked so that the sum of the spaces and letters is the same on every line. In flush left alignment, the letters and spaces can be (more or less) mindlessly placed next to each other until the line runs out of space and you continue on the next line.

The Final Product sorta...

Although I am proud of getting everything set correctly, I realized only afterward that there are a couple few problems with my spacing which I will explain next time in addition to images of the prints I pulled.

1 comment:

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