Entries in printing (2)


Hanging by a Fiber

Newspapers and magazines have predicted the death of print for years. With Newsweek enduring only in pixels and Saturday USPS deliveries on the butcher block, I re-living the last breaths of 35mm film again.

The end of print doesn’t bode well for me, as an editor and stationer. But I haven’t been doing much to save it. Google Reader is a constant companion—though not for much longer—as is my Kindle and iPhone. In looking at the realistic future of my business, I continually gut-check myself as to when I would reach for the physical over the digital. Five instances come immediately to mind:

Thank you note written and sketched by Aptly NotedSketch thank you note to my in-laws for sending homemade cookies.

  1. Thank you notes: Firing off an email of appreciation is sometimes all time allows, but a handwritten note carries with it sentimentality and literal weight. It takes the sender time to compose it. Much of life passes by undocumented. With that one note, the writer captures a moment of time in an expression of gratitude.
  2. Letters: Perusing archived and historical letters is a more intimate experience than robotically paging through one-line emails. Paper can be musky, yellowed, and deteriorating, but it’s a direct connection to someone years or centuries apart.
  3. Travel reads: Catching up on news on my iPhone is great until I disappear underground on the subway, fly 20,000 feet above the earth, head out to a remote destination, or even ride in a moving vehicle. Screens aren’t easy to ready when the reader or the screen is jostling up and down. Mobile is indisputably convenient, but a printed-pulp based product is reliable.
  4. Photographs: I have cradled my DSLR on 30-mile hikes and become its human shield in the rain. But I still don’t own a digital picture frame. The stark contrast of the LED or crystallized display against a room’s ambient light turns a nostalgic memory a miniature screensaver. I don’t print many photographs, but the ones that make it to paper are cherished.
  5. Textbooks: Though college is admittedly a distant memory, I still can’t imagine surviving classes without surrounding myself with sprawled-open textbooks, manually highlighting salient equations, and rifling through 500 pages in a last-ditched effort to absorb one more piece of information. 

As I try to convince myself why print will survive, more reasons to choose print over digital fill my mind. Yes, I understand that by blogging instead of journaling, I discredit my argument, but I have resolved to do better with my sketchbook this year. I’m only three months behind on my resolution.


Because 250 lbs. weren't enough

Good, working letterpresses are hard to come by. The fabulous Brooklyn studio The Arm, where I took my first printing class, is stocked with the equipment a printer could only dream of, including multiple Vandercooks and Chandler & Price (C&P) Pilots. The table-top Pilot’s manageable size, weight (250 lbs.), and manual operation meant it wouldn’t scare house guests or take off my fingers. My husband and I could load it into my Prius, which we did for another workshop, this time at Excelsior Press.

C&P Pilot

Not our best decision

Somewhere between printing my 2000th and 3000th stationery piece, I began envisioning a life with my left arm twice the size of my right (I’m left handed). It was time to graduate to another press.

I found my current press, the Golding Pearl No. 11 Improved, in the garage of an 80-plus-year-old gentleman in southeast Pennsylvania. It was beautiful. My husband had other words. I should have warned him about the Pearl’s height—roughly 5 ft.—and weight: 750 lbs. “It’s coveted for its small size,” I insisted, which is true. The Pearl looks almost delicated compared to other treadle-operated or motorized press.

It didn’t help that the Pearl nearly crushed my husband when we moved her down a makeshift ramp we constructed from 2x4s and stair treads into the sunken family room of our tri-level. “I have never been so scared in my life,” he said.

We will see if that still holds true this week when we move the Pearl to our new residence in Washington, D.C. This time, however, gravity will not be helping—or hurting—us.