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Poco Proof Press

Printing with Nature


Printing with Nature

Hello Friends of the Press,

Last year we published Reverie, a little book poems that featured illustrations printed from grasses growing in our field. I loved the process and the look of these nature prints (which I first learned about from John Ryder's wonderful book Printing for Pleasure), and they came immediately to mind when I began to think about what illustrations might accompany our newest production ~ Wind Intervals, a chapbook of poems by Jeff Schwaner.

Collected and dried last autumn from the tree outside our print shop door, I had a stash of beautiful Japanese maple leaves under weights in a corner of the shop. Many of Jeff's poems include the presence and imagery of trees, including maples. It seemed like a perfect match.

So, this past week I began adding prints made directly from these dried leaves to the pages of Wind Intervals. Here's a little peek at the process ~ enjoy!


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The New (Old!) Printing Press, part

Here is the little press on its stand in my studio (quite the adventure wrangling the 200 pound piece of cast iron out of the car, onto a makeshift dolly, and into the basement room, but we managed!).  The bed of the press, the flat part where the moveable metal or wood type is arranged and locked and upon which the paper to be printed is placed, measures 12"X18". When the crank is turned, the bed moves under the cylinder and "presses" the paper onto the inked type. Voila! A print!

On New Year's Day I pulled a first print, which you can see in the above picture (sort of). The image is of an old clipper ship. The text is the first line of one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems: "There is no Frigate like a Book..." (The whole poem is viewable at the bottom of this post.)

The Happy Printer:

A poem by Emily Dickinson:

"There is no frigate like a book

To take us lands away,

Nor any coursers like a page

Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take

Without oppress of toll;

How frugal is the chariot

That bears a human soul!"

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The New (Old!) Printing Press, part 1

  Here is a look at St Brigid Press' very first printing press, the Poco  Proof Press, made in Chicago, circa 1910. These two images were sent to me by the gentleman I bought the press from, John Falstrom in Connecticut. A delightful, extremely knowledgeable man, John spent hours showing me this press, as well as his outstanding print studio with Golding presses and equipment of all sorts, and teaching me the basics. His wife, Angie, is an amazing watercolor artist, and together they comprise the fine arts studio "Perennial Designs" (take a look at their wonderful website, listed to the left under "Friends of St Brigid Press" links).

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