How did you do it?
we breathlessly wrote to Eric Webb in England, when the first of his Jewels and Quadrats came our way.
Oh, he said with exasperating modesty, a single piece of linoleum is used – cut away and overprinted at each stage.
Yes, we replied, comprehending only vaguely, but will you print one for us as a Standpipe cover – and tell us how you do it?
That is how we are privileged to introduce to American amateurs a real “find” in the ranks of amateur artist-printers, to explain what he termed in a letter to us as…
by Eric “Spider” Webb
A TUTOR in Art first discovered the possibilities of printing a linoleum cut on top of a previous colour from the same block. An “arts and crafts” firm published his pamphlet on linocuts. The King’s College School Art Department used the process for letter-press; the students published a book on the Alphabet illustrated by lively linocuts which combined single-piece blocks over-printed by second linocuts, using both opaque and transparent inks.
I had made a collection of school printing; and as I teach both Art and Printing I began to see the possibilities in the single-piece linocut.
Inevitably I noted two principal factors: the over-printing of the inks and the register. In normal fine-art printing, register comes only from expensive machinery, process plates and the control of paper and atmosphere. Will a hand-press register a print exactly over a previous pull from the same block? Of course it will! What amateur printer has never printed a sheet twice and gotten a “dead register?” And what amateur has never over-printed on top of another colour? My first experiment was a “vase” printed with odd bits of coloured ink I happened to have around.
Illustration: First cutting gives the over-all form of the cover design, then is over-layed by subsequent printings. (Reduced one-half.)
I learned several things: Dead-register is possible; inks can be made opaque; the over-printing of full-colour is simple. I also learned that slip-sheeting is possible if the prints are left long enough for the ink to “set.” So after spreading my work on newspapers around the room, I made a set of drying trays, which stack up on a table.
The linoleum is thick and I paint the pieces with white water-proof ink. Thin white letter-press ink will do. On this I draw the initial outline, tracing if necessary with soft black pencil. This I strengthen with India ink. If the linoleum is warmed it will cut like butter. To mount, I use ordinary glue on the back and on the mount. This is put under a weight overnight. Do not use tacks as they will break the linoleum. Glue will permit the raising of a corner or an edge for a strip of thick paper interlay, if necessary.
Rollers must be tacky and soft. Kiss-rolling is not necessary. Card is the best stock to use as it will pull off the block easier than paper, but it depends on the area to be printed.
Make-ready is an overlay of thin blotting paper cut exactly to the outline and buried deeply in the packing. A few patches to level up and that is that. Remember, the lighter the press the more pressure is needed. Be prepared to have to press the lever home hard. See that it comes to a “stop” very soon consistent with a solid print. With some platens it is as much trouble to release the pressure as to put it on. Generally speaking, pressure is “heavy” but the overlay will keep it from showing. Do not print on embossed stock; but bond paper is OK.
Once the lays and make-ready are set, nothing should be disturbed thereafter. Use a little boiled-oil in the first ink – only. Use paste-driers (5 per cent) in all inks. You will need about 4 ounces of ink for 500 pulls from a 3×4-inch block. The ink you will need most is Titanium White, for this will give opacity to most inks. Use an opaque yellow and “cover” inks, but good quality letter-press inks are also fine.
Be prepared to pull the stock off the block, especially in the first printing. Lay the prints out to dry, overlapping the sheets to conserve space. This may seem slow at first, but the process demands plenty of time anyway. When the drying surface has a layer of work, cover with inter-leaves of newsprint or duplicating paper. The interval of time between printing and covering allows the ink to set. A few sheets will stick if the ink has been too full. But the inking must be full enough, and one must be prepared to put ink on the plate every ten pulls. This will improve as the surface of the block grows smaller with successive cuttings, and the ink on the plate becomes thick. If drying is too quick and the rollers labour up the hill, hand-roll a little linseed oil.
When the run is finished, the printed sheets must be “disturbed” after about four hours – or overnight at the latest. If sticking is bad, peel the sheets gently from one corner. A damp finger will save some patches and following printings will cover the rest.
With a new cutting to do, take out the chase and clean the block – leaving the block locked in the chase. Draw the new details and cut, taking occasional pulls to check the progress. For this purpose, take extra prints on odd paper at the end of the first run. To give an idea of the time factor: a run of 150 can be printed (and the blocks cut) three times in one day. With the ink full and with driers the work can be ready to receive the next ink in less than two hours. Beware of linseed oil. Use ink straight from the tins. Oil gives a “shine” and will cause sticking; will not set under 24 hours. The little in the first ink goes into the stock.
Second cutting, showing how the first color is permitted to show through in small areas.
With added Titanium White (not Flake White) most inks will “cover” a darker ink. In general, commence with light-toned inks and end with the dark. Rich effects are got by using black in the inks. Interesting effects arrive by mixing one colour with all the rest in turn. Subtleties beyond mere words come from mixing in white then black with the colours; harmonies are derived from using “adjacent” colours from the spectrum band: red-orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green and so on.
But, the most exciting results come by “chromatic change,” which is rather like playing a melody with colours. Only the printing machine can do this! The nearest thing to it that I can recall is sometimes done in Disney cartoons.
You commence with one colour, and gradually it is changed by adding a second as the printing continues. The limit is about three or four colours without washing off. This is because a mixture of hues tends to become “muddy,” for the complementary colours (on opposite sides of the colour-circle) produce “grey” when mixed: i. e., red plus blue-green equals grey. So the chromatic change can progress through, say, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green and blue; but to try to go on to royal-blue brings in the red-violet and this means a wash-off. Even so, the change can be spread gradually over 500 prints for three near-hues.
With the second run, the changes are made with another series of near-hues – and yet again with the third run. To add to the interest, black and white can also be used at any stage. At least, by the third run every print will be different!
Somewhere about this stage, something unusual begins to happen. Not only are you, as the manipulator, changing the colours, but they are bringing different results by proximity. Colours have this effect on each other, depending on how they surround the printed details. So the total effect is multiplied quite beyond any predictability, and every pull is both a discovery and an excitement.
As the pulls are laid out side by side, the effect is astonishing. The ink on the machine will have little relation to how the print will look on the other tints. Naturally, depending on your taste, some results will not attract; but in the main, I know of no other technique which is so fascinating from the visual aspect. And remember, every print, when finished, will be different!
The third cutting, which is super-imposed on the first two when dry.
If “progressive pulls” are wanted, you need twice as many sheets as colours, multiplied by the number of sets wanted. For two sets of progressives on a five-colour job: 2 x 5 x 2=20 sheets extra, added to the first run. I find that it is better to use a different stock for progressives, and then they can be detected and watched. Otherwise you will deplete the run or overlook the need to put extra pulls on the side.
[Printer’s Note: A fascinating bonus from Spider is a set of these progressive proofs, showing how our cover design developed at each stage of the cutting. Interesting, too, is a set of individual proofs of the block at each cutting. The gray paper on which they were printed in color didn’t bother the ancient gent who runs our local photo-engraving shop. He simply had them traced in black to make the half-size line cuts used to illustrate this article.]
Envoy: In the case of this cover for the Siamese Standpipe, you will understand that I stood to attention: the colours were disciplined and ordered about. I nearly fell over trying to keep to a conventional standard. The first printing was a pale yellow tint medium dusted fifteen minutes later with gold. This was then overprinted by subsequent cuttings, leaving the gold showing through. The press is the English Adana HS2, a small hand-lever press with a 4×6 bed and tiny rollers. All work was done in The Parlour, this being somewhat of an invitation.
Fourth cutting: yet another layer of ink. The fifth and final cutting removes all but the central heart-shaped portions, subsequently printed in a reddish tint.
More English Cousins
This issue of SS introduces two English type faces, happily acquired by The Griddle Press from the magnificent assortment offered by Stephenson Blake (the Caslon Letter Foundry) – thanks to the help of Maurice Peach, in a series of magnificently complicated international financial transactions.
Not least attractive in their catalogue is “Our Ancestry,” a family-tree diagram which traces direct descent from William Caxton and William Caslon.
The catalogue is an invitation to bankruptcy; so we were, perforce, satisfied with two: 36-point Francesca Ronde which appears on the first page, and the 24-point Vogue (cast in caps only) used for titles.
Courageous Courting Customs in Nigeria: Here’s How the
by Johnson D. A. Kuewumi
THE Fulani – the cow-Fulani, to be more exact – belongs to a nomadic tribe that roams the open grasslands of Northern Nigeria, British West Africa. He abhors town life; and if ever any business brings him to town, you may be sure he returns to his ruga (a temporary hut built at a halting spot in the country) at nightfall. But strictly speaking, this is not a Fulani history. Anyone interested in that could do some research on his own, and the result will be worth any trouble he cares to take.
In these days when girls fall for money and other inducements, it is particularly refreshing to know what love among the Fulanis is like. Marriage customs vary among different peoples and tribes all the world over. The Fulani girl is a class by herself. She does not value the economic security of her wooer, knowing that every Fulani man must own a number of head of cattle, which constitute wealth. She has no eye for finery: her dress consists mostly of home-spun pieces. She does not even expect her prospective husband to provide her with a house for shelter against the elements. What, then, does this child of Nature demand of a suitor?
One thing, and only one thing, matters above all: that is VA LOUR, spelt in capitals. Perhaps because these slender but strongly-built people live face-to-face with danger from wild animals, such as leopards and lions, it is considered essential that they be men of valour. How does a girl prove this among the young suitors of her tribe?
Every year during the hot season in Northern Nigeria, the Fulanis gather for the big occasion. At this annual gathering of the tribesmen, the young suitors must publicly prove their powers of endurance.
Now the drummers announce the great occasion!
The young damsels are all in festive mood, dressed in their scanty best. The older women stand behind the damsels; and as the tom-tom warms to the rhythm of folk songs, the bachelors dance into the circle, each holding a strong stick carefully prepared from a branch of some hard wood. A young man dances boldly into the arena. As he whirls ’round and gesticulates, another springs forward and mercilessly flogs the dancer about the upper part of his body with the long stick. The dancer takes it good-naturedly. More and more flogging until the blood flows! The poor fellow feels dizzy; the stick has battered his flesh terribly; yet he dares not show any signs of weakness, for at this psychological moment his chance of winning a girl hangs in the balance. In order to encourage him, the young ladies dance close and confront him with a looking-glass. Seeing his distorted face reflected in the glass, he plucks up courage and dances more and more. The umpire signals him off and he has won!
The valiant winner later takes his turn to flog his friend. The procedure is repeated until all available suitors have had a chance of proving their valour. It is night-fall. The gathering disperses, and the ladies gladly yield to their suitors. The bachelors who failed the acid test must prepare to try again the next year.
Primitive? Yes, but there is no other way of wooing a cow-Fulani girl. Abide by the custom or remain single!
Being the natural by-product of a frantically active publishing family
Quote and Unquote
With three journals being printed simultaneously, the three male members of the family were comparing notes on recent typographic disasters.
Pamela: I want P’eko have pi, too!
Daddy: I don’t have any pi – but here’s a cookie you can have.
“You’re not putting the copy for the Christmas Standpipe on my desk, are you?” asked Mrs. Editor, with a hopeless glance at the two-foot stack of hopeless miscellania on either side of her typewriter.
“What!” exclaimed Mr. Editor in horror. “In the Great Bottomless Pit of Asahi-dai?”
“Yah, they call me The Face in the Abyss,” said Mrs. Editor (a fantasy book by A. Merritt).
“Well, son of Abyss!”
Helen, batting at the typewriter light which had a loose bulb: “It’s like a wife – a slap now and then and it works better.”
SC W, mimeographing his journal want-list, crushed a paper through the mimeo. “Look! Permanent pleats!”
Helen, rationalizing Vic Moitoret’s titles in the Ginza Gazettes which he printed here with us: “Well, I sometimes follow a theme for titles, like classical quotations. Maybe Vic’s theme was cliches.”
SC W, setting type, to Helen: “Stop bothering me and go away, or I’ll misspell your initials.”
MAILED with this Standpipe to interested persons are three products of this year’s rainy season: Nyubai News, first printed paper by David, 7; the third Jamboree by Sheldon, 9½ ; and Fantasia by Helen, over 21.
Views on the Passing Scene: Who Belongs on Amateurdom’s
Pillars of Fame
by Helen Vivarttas Wesson
WHO are the Pillars of Amateur Journalism? Who, in the history of the hobby, have created and supported the institution? That is what The Fossils are endeavoring to determine, a selection to be printed on the symbolic Pillars of the Distinguished Service Certificates awarded to outstanding living members.
The Committee, headed by ex-President Harry L. Lindquist, will be glad to receive opinions from all members of all organizations in the hobby. Each nomination should be weighed individually to be sure that worth, and not friendship or fame alone, is the determining factor. There are many famous persons who in their youth praised the hobby, but this alone is not a mark of greatness in the hobby itself. This must be the criterion: Service to Amateurdom and its organizations.
The founding fathers of the three organizations belong: Evan R. Riale, William L. Terhune and Charles Scribner, Jr., who shaped the early NAP As; William H. Greenfield, who single-handedly founded the UAPA; Charles C. Heuman, who played an important role in the founding of The Fossils – these belong without question. (So does George Henry Kay, founder of the AAPA, who ranks with these but who is not eligible as he is still very much alive.)
The literary greats whose professional careers intertwined with their amateur activities, and who attracted public notice to and reflected credit on Amateur Journalism also belong: certainly Howard Phillips Lovecraft and perhaps Edith Miniter.
Truman Spencer, Edwin Hadley Smith and John Travis Nixon belong, because of their efforts to pre- serve the traditions and the journals of the hobby. In this category also fits Cyrus H. K. Curtis, who used his professional success to assure the Fossil (E. H. Smith) Library of Amateurdom a permanent home where it could be fed, cared for and used.
For leading the group who printed American Youth at the Vienna Exposition of 1873, a terrific achievement even by today’s standards of easy travel and modern convenience: Willis H. Stewart.
People who slaved beyond their personal enjoyment in participation, to the fulfillment of the highest ideals of the amateur press, like W. Paul Cook (whose ajay biography is slated to appear in an early Fossil.)
The first American amateur journalist of record – in the sense that he practiced the hobby as we know it today – Thomas Condie.
Frederick Ives’ professional fame – the invention of half-tone photo-engraving – stems directly from a boyish zeal to illustrate his amateur paper, thus widening the scope of the graphic arts, professional and amateur.
Fame in itself is not enough, but when famous men credit the hobby, at the peak of their fame, we should return the recognition – Josephus Daniels and perhaps James M. Beck.
Thorough discussion in our journals is called for in the immediate future. Time is of the essence as the matter must be decided within this year, a too-short period, certainly. A definite number of names must be filled in; and if we don’t work on it now, the result could be a last-minute rush to fill in the spaces arbitrarily, without judicious forethought and hobby-wide discussion. (I consider the matter so vital that I have volunteered to serve on the Fossils’ Committee.)
I hereby nominate the foregoing to be actively considered. In addition, I nominate for the Honor Roll of the living: E. H. Cole and E. H. McDonald for many years of work-horse duties for A. J. and especially The Fossils; and G. H. Kay, founder of AAPA.
by Sheldon C. Wesson
Accompanying this Standpipe is the tenth number of Ginza Gazette, reporting joyously that we have, at last, an amateur printer to talk to in a land hitherto barren of such stimulating company.
Igor Oganesoff, our recruit, describes himself in GG with a painful paucity of fact. He is one of the youngest members of the foreign press corps, and a widely respected commentator on Japanese finance and industry. He recently became correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. For a while, he and I sort of occupied twin beds in the business pages of the Japan Times, he with his specialties, me with my focus on foreign trade. (Those bed-sheets are still warm from Burton Crane, who at one time also wrote here for the WSJ.)
The printshop Igor describes is contained in, placed on and hanging from a stand-table which he built.
The imposing stone is a slab of marble kept as a souvenir by Kazuko’s late father, the architect who designed the imposing Dai-Ichi Seimei Building, which became famous as General MacArthur’s Tokyo headquarters. The Wesson shop uses a marble slab given by Helen’s late father, designer of many public buildings in New Jersey.
The lovely and talented Kazuko has already gone through the first ordeals of the printer’s wife. (After midnight): “Igor, haven’t you finished up in the printshopyet?”
Igor’s first printed effort is a remarkable start\ – including a filed-down initial! We expect further embellishments from Kazuko’s artistic efforts. (She dances a cool samba, too!)
A Book Review by the Connoisseur at the Zauberberg Press
An Art That Lives
by Don V. R. Drenner
Japanese Paper-Making, by Kiyofusa Narita, A.B.; Tokyo, the Hokuseido Press, 1954; 60 plus vi pp., 5×7 inches, with samples and illustrations.
This is a most difficult book to review; it is a brief and irritating book – irritating because it is so brief. To anyone interested in paper making – and especially hand paper making – there are always quedtions unanswered in even the most voluminous books on the art. Mr. Narita’s book is especially irritating because it is so tantalizing. A case: The lack of material on hand-moulds and construction.
The short history of paper making, from China, Korea, and its spread to Japan, is fairly complete in that it does cover the more well-known facets. But here, as with the second section of the book on materials and method, Mr. Narita assumes a greater knowledge on the part of his reader than is usually present.
A statement that is mostly – and justifiably – national pride occurs at the end of the first section, in describing Japan as “foremost in the art of hand-made paper in the world.” Since no kind of paper is indicated, one presumes the author to mean the hand-made papers peculiar to Japan. This might well be true (and perhaps is); but no really fine rag book paper is produced there which can compare with that from the Barcham-Green mills of England, or of Rives in France, or the superb C. Miliani papers from Fabriano. Yet, he is correct if he means the “art” papers and the really fine tissues.
The portions of the book on materials, handling and making the stuff are excellent, if (again) too brief. The nomenclature employed by Mr. Narita is somewhat at variance with accepted (i.e., Western) standards. The initiate might well have Hunter’s definitive work at hand to make a bit more clear some of the tools and procedures.
For the casual printer with an interest in how some of the materials he uses have come about, Mr. Narita’s book is indeed excellent. It is to be regretted that the paper used in printing Mr. Narita’s book is such poor stuff; he might well have used the papers which his book is about. The printing and binding are simply terrible – redeemed only by the cover paper, a fine example of the Japanese art.
SPW (8): Now that I’m a printer I’d like to join the NAPA. How much does it cost?
Daddy: $2 the first year.
SPW: Wow! How much is that in Yen?
The artistry of Eric Webb has served as a catalyst – to emulsify and solidify all the good intentions which have long been directed toward production of
Siamese Standpipe 37
This is also our third International Edition, one of an intermittent series in which we try to combine words and ideas from far places.
The product is distributed privately, in a limited edition, principally to printers and other practitioners of the arts of amateur journalism. Affiliated with The Fossils and the National and American Amateur Press Associations. July 1957
HELEN AND SHELDON WESSON
68 Asahi-dai, Negishi