Archive for the 'Monotype' Category

Hand & Eye Foundry

16 February 2012

We’d like to use our collection of Monotype matrices to make type for people, so we’ve started Hand & Eye Foundry. We’re selling quarter-founts of anything we have in sizes up to and including 14 pt for £25.00 plus postage and packing. We’ll be making a dedicated web site for it if we get sufficient response, and in the meantime you can see what we’re up to on Twitter. In the last couple of days we’ve picked up 80 followers and have had an enquiry from someone looking for some Porson Greek.

We’ll be selling sundries like leads, spaces and quoins too, and we can set your copy and supply the type for you to print.


Henry Bowers’ diary

21 August 2011

Henry Robertson Bowers was a member of Robert Scott’s second Antarctic expedition, and one of the party of five who reached the South Pole in January 1912. He kept a diary throughout his time in Antarctica. It is now the property of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, who are publishing it for the first time. We are delighted that they have chosen us to print the book. It will be set in Monotype Imprint, issued by the Monotype Corporation in 1912.

The book is currently being planned. It will probably be set in 10/11 point, and we’re doing tests, calculations and estimates to decide on paper and number of pages.

We intend to Tweet about the project as it progresses.


24 pt Gill Sans Italic

26 April 2011

We’ve just added two quarter-founts of 24 pt Gill Sans Italic to our ebay store. We’d hired the matrices for a job of our own, so we’re selling the founts at a price that is unlikely ever to be repeated. We’ve used the Monotype Corporation’s quarter-fount scheme, 10A 18a. The type is gloriously new and shiny from our Supercaster, and we’ve printed special labels for our fount boxes.

As for our own job, that’s something we’ll be telling you about here when it’s ready.

Making ingots

20 February 2011

Replacing our stock of type metal ingots was not something we thought about when we started casting. It had to happen some time, though. We found a couple of firms who would make new ones for us (thank you, Google), but it was going to cost more than we wanted to spend. The alternative was to melt down our scrap, so we looked into buying a furnace. Also too expensive. Once again, Google came to the rescue, and we bought a lead melting pot, two ingot moulds, an 8.5 kW gas burner, a temperature gauge and some powered tin. Now, after Nick spending two half-days out on the pavement crouched over a pot of 400 deg C metal, we have twenty four shiny ingots to keep our caster going.

Look out for more at Adventures in Monotype.

Super Caster reassembled

12 November 2010

This is our Super Caster, reassembled at last. It’s been in pieces since it was moved here while we’ve been concentrating on the Composition caster. That’s working much better now, so we asked Gerry Drayton to come back and show us around the Super. A lot of his time was spent looking for missing bits, and since then we’ve been spending more time on plumbing and water leaks than we would have liked. We think we’re ready to have a serious attempt at casting display type now.

Bankside, Jekyll & Hyde, St Bride and Standpoint

31 October 2010

There’s going to be a lot happening around here over the next few weeks.

We’re really pleased to be part of the second St Jude’s in the City at the Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH. Nine of our posters are being framed for exhibition at the moment. There will also be unframed copies in browsers, so we have a lot of wrapping in celophane to do. The show runs from the 10th to the 21st of November, and the gallery is open from 11 am to 6 pm.

Then on 17 November we’re launching our new edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, with Angela Barrett’s wonderful illustrations. That’s happening at Few and Far, 242 Brompton Road, London SW3 2BB from 10 am to 7 pm.

Next is a show at St Bride Library on 19 November to accompany Letterpress: Forward Thinking. Phil and Nick will be talking about our Monotype installation at the conference in full, gory, technical detail. Other speakers include Jon Kielty, Ross Shaw and Patrick Randle, all ex-Hand & Eye, and Sandro Berra, director of the wonderful Tipoteca ItalianaThe previous letterpress conference at St Bride was enormously successful and was sold out long in advance, so book your tickets now.

And from 10 December to 22 January there is the Reverting To Type exhibition organised by New North Press at Standpoint Gallery, 45 Coronet Street, London N1 6HD. It will be a major show which will showcase the work of twenty contemporary letterpress practitioners from around the world, with contributions from three leading art colleges and the first eight in an ongoing series of prints made by New North Press with especially invited collaborators.

We’d like to see you at all four events, of course, and hope that you can make it.

What we did the night before Whittington

5 September 2010

We are great admirers of the Whittington Press, and it is always a privilege to take part in their open day. It has the refreshing effect of reminding us why we do what we do. We feel at home with their FAG proofing press, and it’s great to give visitors a chance to print something on it themselves. Last year we were making a lot of posters, so we designed one for the show and took the forme with us. This year we wanted to take something we had cast.

There were several jobs to cast on Friday, in two or three different sizes, and the most convenient order in which to do them was with the Whittington job last. It all went well, and by about 5 pm Nick had everything set up and ready to go. Then he was hit on the arm by a large splash of metal. There’s a a lot of cleaning up to do after a splash to get the machine to cast properly once more, often involving cleaning out the mould. Maybe it was the time of day, or maybe it was our inexperience, but we could not make any usable type after that. First metal was leaking from the join between the mould and the matrix. Then the sorts were falling over in the type channel. By about 6 Phil thought he’d better start hand setting the same copy as insurance. He finished correcting it at about the same time as Nick brought the caster into line and and finished casting, so we could take the machine set version with us. We didn’t get out of the workshop until 9.30, though.

And the copy? We used a short excerpt from Eric Gill’s Autobiography:

And lettering has this very great advantage over the other arts; at its very base, conjoined and inseparable, are the fair and the fit – most obviously useful and depending for its beauty upon nothing but man’s musical sense. The shapes of the letters do not derive their beauty from any sensual or sentimental reminiscence. No one can say that the o’s roundness appeals to us only because it is like that of an apple or of a girl’s breast or of the full moon. We like the circle because such liking is conatural to the human mind. And no one can say lettering is not a useful trade by which you can serve your fellow men and earn an honest living. Of what other trade or art are these things so palpably true? Moreover it is a precise art. You don’t draw an A and then stand back and say: there, that gives you a good idea of an A as seen through an autumn mist, or: that’s not a real A but gives you a good effect of one. Letters are things, not pictures of things.

Pressure regulators and metal splashes

21 August 2010

Working with the Monotype composition caster has shown us just how sensitive it is to air pressure. Air is used to raise metal pins that determine how far the die case can move in each cycle, and therefore which character is cast. If the pressure is too high the wrong pins can be raised and an incorrect character is cast. If the pressure is too low the pins may not rise, or rise too slowly, and again, the wrong character is cast.

We tried fitting a second regulator to the air supply in an attempt to maintain even pressure. It did help, but we were still getting more typos than we were happy with. We thought that the trouble might be that there were two air pipes: one to control the pins and the other to cool the die case. Both were positioned after the new regulator. Changing it round (and buying some jubilee clips that tighten up without breaking) so that the cooling tube comes off before the second regulator has made an enormous difference.

That’s not to say that everything is perfect now. This week the pump kept sticking, and we had an enormous splash of molten metal, which meant dismantling the mould to clean it out. Nick, who is doing most of the casting, thinks that now that we’re running the machine 2-3 days a week it’ll bed in and these problems will diminish.

Moons, fishes and playing cards

30 July 2010

An unlikely combination, perhaps, and the only reason we’ve brought them together is that we have matrices for them all in one of our 10 point die cases. We cast them at the same time as the symbol founts, and now they’re in our shop.

Monotype borders

26 July 2010

Life has been rather hectic since we got back from our holidays, and we’ve only run the caster a couple of times. The computer system that controls it depends on a web application, and as its server has been crashing and we’ve come up against some limitations of the program we haven’t achieved as much as we’d hoped. We didn’t have any words ready to go on Friday, so we thought we’d have a look at the border matrices that came as part of our installation. You can see the type sitting on the caster in our picture, and proofs of the borders themselves in our ebay store.