Friday, December 26, 2008

Old Paper

I'm almost ready to print, after 25 hours of composing, proofing and make ready (7 hours just for sticking pieces of paper on the back of each piece of type to bring it up to the same height as all the others). Since I don't want to waste expensive paper, most of my proofs have been on some very old newsprint that was lying around at the Museum. Old newsprint is brittle, weak and discoloured, but it seems to be a fashionable look. At least four people have gotten very excited about the paper when I showed them my proofs.

Perhaps people focus on the old newsprint because they can't think of anything nice to say about my proofs. I can only bear my proofs right now for technical purposes, knowing that once I print on Italian 200gsm hot pressed cotton rag paper with carefully mixed translucent ink, it might start looking how I want it too. Maybe people are politely deflecting attention from my ugly proofs onto the funky old paper.

It's the vintage look I guess, that genuine 'old' faded paper look that an acid free paper would only achieve after a century or so of careless stewardship, but that newspaper takes on after a day or two sitting in the sun. The newsprint I'm proofing on has probably survived twenty or thirty years of warehousing and virtually crumbles at touch.

It's one of those things where I can see that something is attractive in the current fashion, and if I squint and tilt my head right I can like it well enough as irony, but I know it's not for me. I'm too practical I guess to be seduced purely by the look of it. I need to see that it will do what I want, and other than the ephermeral purpose of showing me which pieces of type I need to lift, old newsprint offers me nothing as a printer or book maker.

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