Friday, August 29, 2008

Vector Cuts

Hi, again:

This post is sort of an experiment. I have converted several of the ATF Knickerbocker cuts from out of the 1915 ATF Speciment book into .pdf files. The purpose is to import these images into Freehand, Illustrator, Draw, Inkscape, etc. for use in designing letterpress plates. Vector files can be infinitely sized without distortion because they are not bitmapped, but rather mapped out by algorithm. Line images (ultrahigh contrast images) are particularly good subjects for vectorization.

What I will show is a bitmapped image of the Specimen, and provide a link to download the Adobe Acrobat .pdf file. Save this file and import into your own vector IDE (fancy acronym for InterDevelopmental Environment - FreeHand, Draw, etc.)

The following are "Kickerbocker" cuts. In these, I left the catalogue number. You can delete these numbers in your own IDE.










Let me know how these images work out for you. Contact me at:



Monday, August 18, 2008

The Desert Rose

A little hard to see in .jpg imagery, the actual file is vector. It was the project of the day. I'm working with my little sis on her wedding announcement, and she thought she would like to have a Cactus Flower design, to key into the desert setting of the place the ceremony will be performed. So her fiance photoshopped a clip-art cactus flower and text to give me an idea. This image had to be vectorised for plating, so I printed off the image, and carbon-paper traced it onto bristol board. Then I used india ink and a Hunt mapping pen (a crow quill would have done) and retraced over the carbon tracings and applied stipple and hatching for tonal variations. This, in turn, was scanned at 1200 dpi and traced into vector via an amazing programme called "Inkscape". I traced the bitmap at 2-colour, hard edge setting. This rendered a wood-cut looking vector graphic. I then exported it into .pdf, which works with my version of FreeHand. So the process went from bitmapped clip art to hand-rendering on Bristol, scanned back into bitmap at high resolution, then traced into a vector algorithm. It is shown here in bitmap form.

If anyone is interested in using my little Desert Rose for their very own, e-mail me for the .pdf file.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Ludlow at the Settlement

I am posting these for the benefit of some Letpress Members whom I have enlisted to give me their input as to whether or not this machine is worth restoring, fixing, or just letting it go. There are NO mats, No sticks and NO maintenance tools. I was totally bummed about not having mats.

These photos will probably be here only temporarily.


Putting It All Together

The Pearl was re-assembled after about ten days drying time. After assembly, I lubricated her with 40w. Motor Oil, which took over for the WD-40 I had shot into her oil ports to displace any water that may have collected there. All bare metal was coated with WD-40 as well, to prevent rust which so easily forms on bare polished iron even with the slightest dampness.

After assembly and lube, I treadled her for about ten minutes. The only sound that could be heard was the clicking of the gripper bars against the platen as the "clam-shell" closed. She is wonderfully balanced by her design, and if everything goes true to form, once the platen adjustment bolts are re-inserted (and I get rollers and trucks for her) she should level out just fine.

The only thing left is cleaning the treadle thrust rod, repainting it and the feed-board brackets. So I cannot call her complete just yet, but I couldn't resist taking a few more shots as she glistens with her new coat of gloss oil-based black paint.

Just a few notes on the photos: I used my daughter's Cannon digital which is a great camera, but the "red eye" flasher causes any object that has red reflective characteristics to saturate. So you will see a rust-red colouring in some of the photos. That is not rust. I was tempted to Photoshop it out, but heck, just take my word for it. The press is rust free. Some of the areas polished to a silver-metal intensity has saturated to a sort of bronze-gold hue. Usually I can overcome this by shutting off the flash, but because the press is so black, it is hard to pull enough contrast to view details without substantial gamma and contrast manipulation. So I decided to let the photos go with a minimum of correction. When the final mounting of the brackets and treadle bar is completed and the drawers and feed/delivery boards are mounted, I'll take daytime photos with the sun shining through the windows, which provides a more natural image with the Digital Camera.

In case it's unclear what you are seeing here, it's the rear of the type bed. The reflection from the gloss paint in the re-enforcement casting (those little squares things) is a little intense using the flash. But again, without the flash, there would have been insufficient contrast to see any detail at all.

This is another view of the rear of the type bed.

This is a view of the delivery/feed side of the press with the platen closed. Note that I have not replaced the four leveling bolts yet.

And finally, that familiar heart-shaped treadle. It is very, very tempting to paint some Pennsylvania Deutsch "Distlefinks" and other flourishes on the treadle! Now, here is a good example of Art and Form, which was considered in the 19th century to be, in many cases, practical. They could have saved a lot of money just making a plain treadle, and nobody would have complained. But form and function go hand in hand with aesthetic appeal, and in the mind of the Golding Company, this was worth the extra time, effort and expense. Like the Crocus Leaves seen in relief on the iron bridge castings in Atlanta. Those old viaducts date back to the 1880s, and took time and skill to execute. Public moneys, no less. But they understood that beauty, form and function are part of our essential human-ness, therefore desirable. I think we have backslidden in our more sterile "Modern Era".

Well, that's it for now. See ya next installment!


G. Johanson, Printer.