Sunday, May 13, 2007

Three Gentlemen of Printing

I'm starting to get the hang of the Arab press now, thanks the generous, kind, patient help of three good gentlemen of printing.

Ron de Rooy got me grooving on the marvelous proofing press, and together we fixed up the ink plate on the Arab so it moves sweetly as it should. I enjoyed hearing his stories about his life as a printer and the history of some of the gear I am using. Come back Roy, my cleaning project has made a massive leap since you were here.

Neil Perfect is the problem-solver extraordinaire! If he happens to be in earshot as I mutter to myself about some little challenge or another, inevitably before I even realise he was listening, he has swiftly provided or promoted an ingenious solution. Together we replaced the packing behind the runners that support the rollers as they glide (smoothly now) over the chase. He figured out how to get tissue paper to stay on the tympan. He entertained me with pipe-laying anecdotes that brought back fond memories of my own days of driving a trencher.

But best of all, most of all, Murray Inder is the Man! He arrived into a moment of hysteria on my part as the chase had flipped into the rollers as he drove up to the building. Calmly and without hesitation he took charge of situation, rescued the chase, and proceeded to take me through step by step of setting, locking and proofing type; creating a new tympan and positioning the gauge pins (gauge pins have changed my life, I would sell my second-born [if I had one], for a certain supply of gauge pins. With gauge pins I no longer feel the lack of a frisket). Murray is a brilliant teacher who explains things clearly and sensibly, answers all questions but is unswayed from his curriculum. Nothing he said or did ever allowed me to feel dumb. I envy his apprentices (I assume he has had apprentices) and I aspire to his teaching style.

I am very glad I got over my curmudgeonly attachment to working alone. The supportive presence and active contributions of these good men (and others who spend time at TKPT, especially Daniel Lyons) not only make my work go infinitely better but add unanticipated social delights.

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