This fall I enrolled in a letterpress printing class. If you’ve ever hand-set type you know the trials of proofing and printing, and if not, trust me, there are many. It was recommended to hand proof each line, by line, as you set it in the “stick”. For unknown reasons someone had cut up the perfect size postcard paper and left them in the proofing bin. I used these to proof a little book I was working on for the final project. The book is based on a story that revolves around the news of the day, July 27, 1897, as published in the New York Times. The narrator is a fictional character who is in search of Guldensuppe’s head (but that’s a story for another day).
Now I had a whole collection of various lines of text on this lovely paper.
Also during this semester I worked on a broadside where I wanted to represent some sadness I felt regarding Robert Stroud. He is best known from the movie version of his life “The Birdman of Alcatraz”, but in fact, he never had any birds at Alcatraz. He was sent there in an effort to get rid of him and his birds from Leavenworth where they were tired of screening his intense correspondences with his publishers, as he had written two books on canaries while in prison, being self-taught in the care of these little birds.
So the feather rubber stamps were created in the hope that they would work on my press run, but no, this was not the best material to use, and so I had to recreate them in a linoleum block. What to do with my unused rubber stamps? Make a holiday card, of course.
So here I present on this card, for your entertainment, a brief summary in the trials of a novice letterpress printer.
The canary illustration is from an 18th Century book plate.