Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yeah, I can do this stuff for other folks, too!

One of my College dept. guys asked me if I ever print stuff for other folks, like, as a business thing. It suddenly hit me: I just assumed folks understood that. I guess not! Colour me "business-stupid". In fact, over the past year I have been asked a number of questions about what I do with these old Presses and Typographs and copper and mag plates, etc. So here we go with my official "G. Johanson, Printer Frequently Asked Questions List (FAQs)

Q: Can, or Do you print stuff for other folks?
A: Yes. I do.

Q: Do you market yourself?
A: Apparently not. At least, not beyond this Blog.

Q: What sort of printing do you do?
A: Whatever floats my boat. I have a huge history streak, so I gravitate heavily toward handset type, line cuts, laid papers, traditional colours, and presses that run slow. If so inclined, I'll wear silver buckled shoes, knee britches and a powdered wig on St. Bartholemew's Day. Oh, and my trusty German Tricorn.

Q: Do you ever do any Digital Design, Mr. Franklin?
A: Very funny. . . yes, I use two different Digital IDEs, one a PC based system once an industry standard: FreeHand MX4, and also a Mac based system running Adobe Creative Ste 4 (Illustrator) I use Freehand to restore and vectorise antiquated faces from various sources such as the 1000 page ATF sample book of 1915, or woodcut specimens as I happen upon them and they grab my fancy. Beyond that, I also use traditional india ink and Bristol board, scratchboard and cut Linoleum & Wood. Even Plexiglass. I like to use my hands moreso than technology.

Q: Do you do what all the other Letterpresses out there do, like Wedding Stationery, Cute little note cards with fuzzy animals on them, blind embossing, and scanning old Victorian Catalogues into Photoshop, editing out any incriminating evidences of plagiarism, vectorising them and sending off for a polymer plate and call your stuff "original"?
A: No. I don't use Polymer.

Q: Ok, Dr. House. Do you work with other persons designs?
A: Only if the other persons work with me. (yes, I do.)

Q: Do you drink coffee while you print?
A: Are you OSHA or something?

Q: Are you associated with any museums or printing organisations?
A: Yes, NAPA & the Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts, Barberville, Florida. I'm the 19th century printer.

Q: What sort of things can you print on your vintage presses?
A: Just about anything that can be reproduced by "Line" art or Text. "Line Art" means high contrast images - as opposed to continuous tone shades. Those continuous tone images, such as photographs must first be converted into a fine screen half-tone image in order to print. That is more the domain of Offset Printing. Letterpress can do it . . . but the best way is to do photos via photo offset. Line images, pen and ink renderings, cross hatch and stipple shading do quite well rendered via Letterpress Typography. Spot Colour images do well via Letterpress. And, of course, the best text printing ever rendered in the past 550 years of printing has been done so by Letterpress, still the unassailable champion of text and book printing!

Q: What are the different Price Points you offer when printing commision work?
A: Business Card pricing, Post Card/ QSL card pricing, Wedding/ Announcement Card pricing/ General Card/Menu pricing - might be considered price points. I try to keep the current economic climate in mind. Letterpress Printing is literally a hand-produced product, and production thereof is usually considered "Limited Edition". Skill and techniques are ages old and often cannot be taught in schools, but only by experience. For instance, Platen Presses of the type normally used in boutique Letterpress Shops today are not even allowed in Colleges and Universities because of OSHA restraints! Thus, we have all these college degreed Book Arts majors who have never touched a Kluge, a C&P, or a Heidelberg Windmill! They learn on Vandercook Cylinder presses - not a production machine - which is fine (especially for Posters!), but in the "work-a-day" world, most of the typical typographic work is done by the Platen Presses, which offer a different printing dynamic. Yes, there are large shops that use Miehle, Little Giants and other high production cylinder machines - most of us cottage industry printers don't use those, and again, colleges do not use them either. Many grads have never touched a Composition Stick, or have never packed a platen for makeready. All this to say, the time and work involved in learning the process, gaining proficiency, obtaining the tools, the stock, the inks, the type, or doing the design work, having the plating done - results in a fairly high price for Letterpress work. Oh, did I mention quality papers? Paper alone accounts for 30 - 50% of pricing! And proper choice of papers can make - or break - any printing job or project!

Q: Ok, Whatever. So, lets have an example of a price.
A: Jeeesh, wake up, you're snorring. You asked the question, dude! Here we go with an example:

Single colour business card (American Standard Size)
Typeset or Digital die
Crane Lettra, Really white, sorta white or that eggshell coloured thing:
200 cards: $99.00

Two colour or blind emboss (or any other thing that makes me pass the cards through the press twice ) on the above stock 200 cards:

You can see an example of a blind emboss diamond
logo card I ran on an earlier posting if you peruse back on my blog a few months.

That's just a sample. I price each job individually. I usually do not charge extra for hand-setting of type - it goes into my design fee, which is included in the finish price. Such as the above Business Cards: I include typesetting or digital designing in that number. Add shipping charges, of course.

Q: So, any last comments or remarks?
A: Yes, In due time I intend to set up a regular web site for G. Johanson, Printer, which will have more "marketing" information. Understand, I am really more a tradesman-artist than I'll ever be a businessman. I have had a bad experience with sales guys and marketers which really do not tell either the complete truth or flat out overblow their products. I am obsessed with any client of mine being absolutely satisfied with what they purchase from me, and I'll go to great lengths to keep things affordable as possible. For instance, not every job has to be printed on four-hundred dollar per parent-sheet ream handmade cotton wove stock! In fact, historically, Letterpress can print on darned near anything!! One of my best projects was printed on brown paper wrapper from Wal-Mart!!

Letterpress is a premium venue, and you pay a premium price. But it does not have to wipe out your budget.

Feel free to talk to me, e-mail me, whatever, for more information. I do think it is necessary to work as close to the client as possible, and communication is key. E-mail me at either:

Ok, you've just witnessed a guy almost getting into an arguement with himself.
Are artists strange or what?

Printing has been a lifelong passion for me, and it would be a great and fulfilling thing to share it with others, so if you find yourself in the market for specialty printing, and the idea of traditional letterpress typography and hand-wrought design -whether digital or hand-cut - strikes your fancy, look me up.

I promise I'll leave the tricorn in the shop.


G. Johanson, Printer

Monday, November 9, 2009

Two Videos and Narration describing a Ludlow which I May be Taking On as a Project

These videos are investigative. I have taken these for Dave Seat, who has been kind enough to give me some pointers in getting started on what may be a complete rehab of a Ludlow Linecaster.

This device creates type by-the-line. Rather than pegging foundry type one letter at a time, with this machine you set matrices, or "mats", which are actually moulds. These mats are set in specially designed "sticks", not unlike Composition sticks in basic principle, but nothing like them in appearance.

Lead chemistry is introduced to the mats, and immediately cooled, producing a line of type, a sentence.

There are other machines that do similarly. These machines automatically set lines, words, sentences, by use of a keyboard. The mats are intricately arranged, selected, set, injected, and redistributed into their magazines waiting for next useage. These machines were known as "Line-o-type", "Intertype", etc. But the Ludlow used hand set mats to accomplish the same thing in a far less complex manner. Which is the draw to them for me.

In these videos, narrated after the videos were taken, I am directing commentary to Dave. I might point out that the power to the building went out after I was there just ten minutes. That is why the room seems a bit dark.

You are welcome to join in the investigation of the Settlement's Ludlow.

Video One: Cycling the drive mechanism

Video Two: Checking the gas lines, table top, general appearance.

That's it for now. Thanks for viewing, and thanks, Dave, for helping me out.


G. Johanson, Settlement Printer
Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Setting Up at Mama's Sauce

Letterpress hits Orlando/Winter Park with a vengeance! Here is a brief video peek inside Nick's new location. The presses you will see in relative order: the Heidelberg Windmill, 12x18 Kluge (which appeared in a prior Vimeo video and is currently making the rounds in the LP community), the latest acquisition of a second 12x18 Kluge, and the 12x18 C&P recently liberated from the Barn at the Pioneer Settlement.

What you are seeing is the very first fire-up of the Windmill after a few preliminary checks. We had to set the grippers to hold throughout their respective cycles, level the pitch of the suckers, and reposition the feed and delivery stacks. There are a few things we still need to obtain and wire in for "Wagner", as Nick christened it - or rather, him ( I opted for "Bismark", the Iron Chancellor) - but very soon the WM will be 100%.

The first Kluge is the original, from the original Winter Park location. The second Kluge is quite similar except for some of the electrics. The first has a mechanical speed control, the second has an electrical/ resistance speed control using a type of high current rheostat. It also has an auto-throw-out for mis-feeds. It needs to be re-habbed just a bit. It's my latest project.

The last press is being used for hand-fed items, from printing to die cutting. It's a solid "little" C&P, motorised with the option to treadle.

The audio track is from Praetorius' Terpsichore Dances.



G. Johanson, Settlement Printer

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Small "Broadside" for the Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts

So, what's been happening at G. Johanson, Settlement Printer lately?

This year's Fall Country Jamboree, held annually at the Florida Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts falls across the weekend of the November 7 & 8th. Unfortunately, I have to work this particular weekend, so as to provide something to give to visitors, I produced a small "Broadside" - it can be debated if any "side" of this print can be considered "broad", but since presswise I am confined to a total print area of 8 x 12, which being translated means 7 x 11 max areacoverage, we are working under some design size limits.

I decided to employ a fortunate find, of all things, a vintage zinc cut of . . . a piney-wood cabin in what is most definately a deep southern wood! What are the chances of finding something like this? It could have been one of our cabins on the campus! I've lived in Florida long enough to remember the hunting cabins that dotted the Forests and streams of our fair State, many of which were constructed during the Depression by the WPA.

I chose a monotype border, some of which I supplimented with new castings from Quaker City. The title fonts are Old Style Caslon 24pt, a vintage sort over a century old obtained from an estate at Dunedin in 1991, and Litho Shaded 18pt., which has suffered some damage over the years. The slight damage was taken advantage of to lend a sort of "distressed" rural/ primative aire to the piece.

I intend the main portion of the Forme to constitute a "shell", with a broad opening below the cabin cut to insert other events. The "Broadside" described here will contain the insert "33rd Annual Fall Country Jamboree, Nov. 7 & 8", set in Caslon Open Face 24pt.

The press used is my '36 "New Series" Chandler & Price 8x12, the workhorse of my home shop. It is motorised and belted down to around one impression every three seconds. I can go much faster, but what's the hurry?

I found some 67 lb cover stock that looked fairly vintage, 100% rag from what the wrapping said, and I already had some 110 lb Crane Lettra from a prior job. The 67 lb cover will be used for a souveneir hand-out, and the Lettra will be used for the limited-edition print version held in reserve for Settlement Staff, Volunteers, Board members, etc. These will be signed and numbered.

The overall size is 5-1/2 x 8 inches, not exactly your 18 x 24" Broadside, but it will suffice for now.

I took some shots of the two sheets, with some close-ups on the Lettra. The other paper, the 67 lb stock, is much harder, of course, and no deboss was attempted. The Crane Lettra debosses quite naturally, rendering a pleasing effect upon the overall look of the piece.

Here is a close-up of the Litho Shaded font.

This is the souvenir sheet we will be handing out during the Jamboree.

These are the limited edition on handmade Crane Lettra 110 lb. Ecru stock

Here is a close-up of the Cabin zinc cut.

I ran 496 of the souvenir hand-out broadsides, and 25 of the "limited edition" versions, which will be signed and numbered.

The overall appearance reminds me of the front of an old Almanac from the early 19th century, honestly. Which may spark another idea down the road.

Well, that's it for now. Hope you've enjoyed looking at the photos and reading the descripions. Even more, I hope you can make it to the Florida Pioneer Settlement's Jamboree, always the first full weekend of November. Later, in December, we celebrate a "Florida Christmas", another peek at Florida's pioneer roots.

Good Providence in all your endeavours!


G. Johanson, Settlement Printer