Archive for the 'Visits' Category

The Curwen Studio

20 February 2011

The Curwen Studio was started by the mighty Curwen Press in 1958. Stanley Jones was hired to set it up and run it, and he’s still there, as dedicated as ever to lithographic print making. Phil had the good fortune to go to the studio with the Double Crown Club yesterday.

It’s an awe-inspiring place, with a tradition and artefacts going back to the 1920s and 1930s and beyond. There was one of the plates that the Curwen Press used to print Barnett Freedman‘s illustrations of Anna Karenina; a stone on which Freedman had drawn the tools of the trade over which he had such mastery; and an Ardizzone plate, possibly for Stig of the Dump or The Otterbury Incident, we thought, but more likely a Little Tim book given the size. There are some pictures of them here.

The presses were impressive too. Sitting outside is a German proofing press from the 1920s that the Studio used for years. Metal fatigue finally took its toll, and now it is a rusting sculpture among the trees. We were shown a stone litho press that had been used by the Press for music printing. It has burn marks from the fire that followed the bombing of the Curwen Press during the Second World War. And there are two massive B1 proofing presses, made by FAG, one of whose letterpress proofers we have in Pinchin Street. Interestingly, Stanley, and Jenny Roland who is managing director of the Studio, believe that eventually the printing trade will completely move over to computer to plate, the film and plates they use will no longer be available and litho print making will revert to using stones only. Like film-setting, it’s the intermediate technologies that go, the new ones march on and the earlier ones continue as a medium for artists and craftsmen.

Stanley took us through the different ways of preparing a lithographic image, and for illustration there was a pile of proofs that included a Paul Hogarth colour separation, David Gentleman trying out different pencils and pens on sheet of exquisite figure drawings, a Paula Rego and some Henry Moores.

There are lots of wonderful prints on the walls too, as might be expected, and a plan chest where Angie Lewin shares a drawer with Bob Dylan.

Each of the group of seven was given a piece of A4 drafting film, pens, pencils, crayons, markers and scalpels with which we made their own images. They were put up together on one sheet and exposed on plate. Then we could see the magical process of the plate being developed and watched as prints were made. There was no Freedman or Gentleman present, but t we did have Ian Beck in the party, and it was a great deal of fun.


Whittington Summer Fair

3 August 2010

FAG press at WhittingtonWe delighted to have been invited back to the Whittington Press Open Day, part of the village’s summer fair. We have once again been given use of the Press’s FAG proofing press, and we’ll be setting something special to take with us for visitors to print.

Exciting times

30 March 2010

Gerry adjusting our MonotypeWe had the Monotype lesson we mentioned last time on Friday, and it was exciting as we had hoped. We had the good fortune to be shown the ropes by Gerry Drayton, who ran the school at the factory at Salfords. You can see him in our picture. We can now change a mould and get the machine set up and running. We couldn’t cast anything other than spaces because of a missing part, which has now been replaced.

Yesterday we started to connect up the computer interface. Everything but a motion sensor is now fitted, and we plan to finish that off tomorrow. Then there’s some tinkering with software to be done, and we’ll finally be ready to start casting properly.

We also had a visit from The Guardian yesterday. Journalist Jon Henley and photographer Graeme Robertson came to do a piece about us for their Disappearing Acts series. It will be in the Work section of the paper next Saturday, 4 April, and will be on their web site a few days later.

Tipoteca Italiana

8 June 2009

DCCformeThe weekend before last Phil had the good fortune to visit the Tipoteca Italiana in Cornuda, northern Italy. This remarkable museum, founded by Silvio Antiga, is built around a large collection of historic Italian printing material. For the last fifteen years or so Silvio and his colleagues have been traveling round the country, talking to printers, photographing them and collecting type and machinery. This is restored magnificently in their own workshop, and some of it is on display. The building itself is a former rope works that has been restored and adapted with wonderful taste and sensitivity.

One of the things that shines through is a high a regard for the printers themselves, as well as for the tools of their trade. The place is a must for anyone interested in printing and its past. It has the added attraction of its location in the Veneto, close to both Venice and the equally spectacular plain and Dolomite mountains.

For those who can’t get there the museum have published A Story of Character, a book of their first ten years. Written by Sandro Berra, their genial director, it has over three hundred beautiful photographs superbly printed on uncoated paper by Silvio’s other enterprise, Graffiche Antiga.

You can see more of Phil’s photographs here.

Friends, roaming charges and bikes

21 March 2009

People seem friendly here. Often in shops, of rather stores, I’m told ‘You have a wonderful day’ with every appearance of it being meant. Even the well presented men inviting us to have a drink and a little fun outside the strip clubs on Broadway are affable, unmenacing and a little humourous.

Michael and I quickly became welcomed regulars at our breakfast place, Pat’s Cafe. As well as good food and a friendly welcome we get free wi-fi. O2 make an exhorbitant charge for Internet connection by 3G, so checking email etc has become part of the morning ritual. This post is being written at the airport while waiting for my plane home, but all the others came from Pat’s. The wi-fi isn’t free here, so this won’t be published until I get home.

Another of our shared interests is cycling, and we have been looking at the bikes locked up on the streets as we walk round. Fixed wheels seem as fashionable here as in London, and some of the machines are gorgeous. Many of them have centre pull brakes and alloy handlebar stems, suggesting to our expert eyes that they date from the seventies or eighties.

Fixed wheels seem an odd choice for a city with such dramatic, vertiginous hills, but cool and practicality often don’t go together.

Promised Land

20 March 2009

One of the great things about being here with Michael is that we are visiting people in the lettering and printing community.

Yesterday we went across to Berkeley on the train. It was a gloriously sunny spring day. Our first visit was to letter cutter Chris Stinehour, whose picture is here. After lunch Chris took us up into the hills where we had an astounding view of the Bay area. On the way back down I thought that if I’d come here in my twenties I might never have gone back. Chuck Berry’s promised land was Los Angeles, but this may well be mine.

Chris left us at the workshop of David Goines, whose Constructed Roman Alphabet was given to me not long after I started Hand & Eye. It was exciting and slightly surreal to drop in on someone whose book I’ve known for over twenty years.

The Saloon

19 March 2009

San Francisco is a magical city with many wonders. One of them is The Saloon, a blues bar at Columbus and Grant, where I’ve been spending more than a fair share of my time.

It is all that a bar should be, untouched since who knows when, dingy and, above all, with great bands and juke box. Most of the musicians look as if they’ve been playing there since the last time the decorators were in.

The first two times I went in the bar tender was a man who had made an art of his job. He never stopped, his fluid movements in time with the music, spinning glasses in the air, catching them and then sweepng them behind his back and down the bar…

As my travelling companion is Michael Harvey, lettering artist, type designer and photographer, I have been paying particular attention to things like the notice in the second picture here. The letters are gloriously drawn and irregularly spaced. So much better than if they’d been printed out in Arial or Times.


13 March 2009

We’re closed next week, as Phil is away. There may be a post or two from San Francisco…

Otherwise we open again on 23 March.

St Bride Letterpress Conference

22 September 2008

The title of this year’s St Bride Conference is Letterpress: A Celebration. Anyone who reads about the history of printing soon comes in contact with the St Bride Library, so it is a great honour to Phil to have been asked to speak at the conference. He intends to talk about how he came to start Hand & Eye, what we do now and how we do it, all profusely illustrated. We will also have an exhibition stand where Phil and Rosa will be pleased to see you.

The conference takes place on Friday 7 November from 9.30 am to 5 pm.

What we did at Whittington

11 September 2008

The weather for the Whittington Summer Show was as miserable as we have come to expect. It didn’t spoil the day, though. We were put in charge of the Whittington proofing press, and we set this specimen in their fine 60 pt Walbaum Medium Italic. The green was what they had on the press and the paper was an offcut of Somerset Velvet that we took with us. We printed demonstrated the printing of them, and many of the visitors printed their own copies.

We also took with us a poster that Rosa had produced. The grey type, rather hard to read here, says ‘The spoken word flies away but the written one remains’.