Earthquakes & Hand Carved Wooden Type

Canterbury Mudfish, rimu, whole house reuse

Handcarved Wooden Type with Canterbury Mudfish sort


woodtype, letterpress, swissarmy knife

Chipping out the voids on the side-grain woodtype


Handsaw, Handmade

Trimming with and old Diston Saw


Canterbury Mudfish, Letterpress

Test Proofs – Homage to the Canterbury Mudfish – A resilient little beast though sadly a threatened species

I was approached by Rekindle New Zealand, to participate in their ‘Whole House Reuse’ – a project whereby artists and artisans used the salvaged materials from an entire house condemned following the Christchurch Earthquake of 2010/11

It took some 60 hours of rudimentary carving and whittling to faithfully recreate an uppercase bold fount of a Day&Collins typeface, in side-grain from a thicknessed plank of NZ Rimu.

Onboard hand luggage restrictions meant my mate Steve could only bring a couple of small lengths.  My synopsis was therefore slightly limited, and determined by the words to be printed with the type.

My Swiss army knife is a little worn down, though amazingly I managed to keep all my fingers.  I have a new appreciation for those that went before and who did this day in and day out to earn a crust.

If you are reading this and down-under, the exhibition is being held in the Canterbury Museum and runs from June 5th- August 23rd 2015

Photos courtesy of Jake Green



Not on the High Road

So I’m now the proud proprietor of, what’s likely to be, Leytonstone’s smallest shop!          On Church Lane; next door to St Johns (across the road from Sainsburys Local).

54 Church Lane, E11 1HE

54 Church Lane, E11 1HE


The lack of windows (or doors) is good for brisk trade, but means I’m keeping winter opening hours -until it warms up. Weekends 1100-1800 (or by arrangement).






Little Free Library – Wanstead Tap

Wanstead Tap Little Free Library 2014

Sue House approached Hooksmith Press to design and decorate a little free library from the Little Free Library Project UK……life never quite prepares you for adorning a small box with a wooden booky-wook.  Given the historical associations of presses with the production of books and dissemination of knowledge as well as the final outcome of the box, the design approach seemed to resonate on a few levels.

The commissioning of the library was a great excuse to sample a small fraction of the fine beers on offer at the Wanstead Tap, as well as meeting the author John Rogers.

For other small library inspiration check out the site:



Left to Right – Jo, John, Dan, Me & Sue – Library cloaked in black cloth beneath plummeting pheasant

Little Free LIbrary 2014 Wanstead Tap

Lovely quote from John’s book  ( This Other London – 2013) Letterpress printed wood veneer

Our Neck of the Woods


William Hamilton Page Woodtype USA

WIlliam H Page

Well Worn mid 1800’s Ornamented Woodtype by W.H. Page, Greenville, IL


Welcome to our neck of the woods

I find myself using this saying alot.  Living in a neck of the woods in Leytonstone on the southern fringe of Epping Forest it seemed a good time to get this saying onto the press.  Printed in a vibrant pink, page ornaments include a new and welcome 20+line (80mm/3 Inch +) pair of wooden leaves (maker unknown) and Miller and Richards (Scotland) horizontal pronged decorations.  Also a new addition to the wood type collection is the tiny 6 line ornamented Antique Tuscan made by W.Page & Co, (USA) In the mid-late 1800’s.

Opium, Sliver..Tea

Nice to be asked to be ‘artist-in-residence’ at a new art space and tea-shop in Brick Lane. The Hawkhurst Vault, is named for the Hawkshurst Gang, a notorious group of 18th century smugglers. You can see 10 tea-inspired prints there, until July- I’ll be there myself on the 12th July, for a print sale.  They do a nice bit of cake too.

240 Brick Lane, E27EB


Hibernacula: Leytonstone Underground Exhibition

Never thought I’d write one of those posts that start ‘Sorry I haven’t posted so long, been busy’, but this sort of is one of those.. (Also clearing out my photos, and thought I’d share).

Earlier in the year, me, and some other local artists, had an exhibition at Leytonstone London Underground Station – well their old smoko room (thank you TFL).  Even got a proofing press and the Johnston typeface, out for a bit of community printing. zuri

photo 1photo 2photo 3hibernac

Printing with the Chief Operating Officer of London Underground

Printing with the Chief Operating Officer of London Underground.





Smoking Cures

Maybe its a longing to fish, nicotine withdrawal, or perhaps comforting thoughts of cold smoked trout- fresh from a home-made box smoker, which lead to this print.

Wild lake trout with orange-nearing-red flesh to rival any salmon, lightly rubbed with salt, brown sugar and cured slowly over smouldering manuka chips, was something of a promise and all too quickly devoured, as a kid, living at Lake Rotoiti (South Island), NZ.

Old timers with all manner of favourite lures, rose early to troll the lake from small powered wooden craft.  Their advice to us kids was ‘try a black and gold toby’ at the creek mouths.

The old fish block (‘zinco’) chosen for this work, was probably used to print menus or maybe advertise fishing tackle.  The circa 1950’s fish block seems to be a reproduction of a Victorian woodcut of an over stuffed Atlantic Salmon (a very close relative of the brown trout), though the actual species is kind of ambiguous.

Initially printed with the intention of using two-colour woodtype, the simplicity of a single colour grot with no outline won the day.

Watch for bones.

smoking cures hooksmith press

smoking cures

smoking cures hooksmith press letterpress fishing gift



Exhibit or die


Chuffed to have had three works accepted in the 918 Letterpress Ephemera Show; alongside some great artists and printers. Not sure if some people misinterpret one of the works I submitted (below)! The individual bullet blocks (rounds) date from around 1880 (or possibly older), when I’m sure wars, were generally, just as futile.

The copper-topped bullet blocks were the bi-product of a journey to salvage some fly-fishing blocks from one of the oldest sports shops in Otago NZ.  They were most likely used in newspaper adverts aimed at small game hunters or, at a stretch, for gold diggers in the lucrative days of the Otago Gold Rush?