Printing press workshop

A slightly shortened week, since Clearleft took Monday off for a day of printing press revelry at Ditchling Museum. Ditchling was, for many years, the home of sculptor, typographer and unspeakable pervert Eric Gill, and a large proportion of the museum is therefore dedicated to his work.

The first half of the day was dedicated to examining the museum’s collection and creating our own original works inspired by it.

I contented myself with the (terrifyingly precious) first edition of Gill’s Cantica Natalia, and was quickly absorbed in transcribing it and noting down the unusual trills and marks that aren’t represented in modern notation. My rather sketchy original work was a worms-eye map of a seaside town using only these odd musical ligatures from the score. Slightly Klee-esque, without the talent.

In the afternoon we got our hands extremely dirty playing with the Stanhope press. Jeremy and, who else, Richard probably got the best from it, setting the following plug for UX London in 60pt Baskerville:

My efforts were less successful, but I did manage to print a new header for this blog, which I will at least try to integrate over the next couple of weeks.

It was, of course, very refreshing to spend some time out of the office and learning more about the foundations of our industry. The other point I took from the day was a renewed sense of humility. Technology has made our outputs so much quicker and more reliable, but without the hard work, patience and dedication of centuries of craftsmen we would be far, far behind.