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.
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.
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.
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.
Printing with the Chief Operating Officer of London Underground.
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.
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?
Glad to see BBC2 is showing a drama based on the story of The Wipers Times.
For those who haven’t heard about it – it was a trench-based newspaper, started after a couple of infantry soldiers found a treddle-platten in war-torn Ypres. Go check it out (or “The Best Bits” book, from Ian Hislop and Malcolm Brown) – dark humour that’s exceptionally funny.
The ability of the printing press to bring some happiness to people in such dire circumstances, almost brings a tear to the eye. A friend told me a similar, but more recent story; during the Sri-lankan civil war, the northern town of Jaffna was cut off by the government.. but a local paper (Uthayan) was able to continue by rediscovering letterpress printing and get information to its readership, in a country synonymous with state-censorship and misinformation.
The above work, uses Stephenson Blake 10 line Johnston woodtype circa 1916 (as used on the tube); in honour of underground presses!
Great great grand-daddy Platford: ploughman and horse-doctor
Managed to get up to Norfolk, last week, where apparently a fair few of my genes are from. The pictures of John Platford, an ancestor who worked on the Holkham estate in the north of the county. Its a lovely bit of the world and they have a little museum on the estate, but I felt a bit irked at helping support the aristos (who still live there) by buying their beers and scones.
More my thing was the wonderful Jarrold printing museum, where volunteers staff what was once a huge working press by the river Wensum.
They have an amazing array of letterpress and litho presses; and had the foresight to start the museum up in the 1980’s.
Sadly I only had a couple of days to look around- didn’t even get to see the broads, or even find out if theres any fishing up there. Will definitely be back.