Pattern for Plain Heart (2012)

I’m chuffed to be able to say that the 2012 edition of Matrix journal will have a feature on my work (along with the Wayzgoose Press, written by Andrew Schuller), and I was asked to produce a tip-in print for them. It’s an amazing journal, still produced completely by The Whittington Press by John Randle et al using letterpress, and judging by the fact that I had to print around 750 prints, it has a strong following.

Pattern for Plain Heart © &Duck

This image is a scan, which disappointingly thickens up the slightly embedded red ink; the original prints are much crisper. It’s all handset type, in Gill and Tudor, printed on 120gsm Magnani Vergata Wove paper in a warm red ink.

The poem is by New Zealand poet Sue Wootton, who has a wonderful website showcasing her work. I didn’t get the poem from the website, I actually met Sue when I was in Dunedin printing another one of her ‘shaped’ poems, No String Banjo.

No String Banjo

As you can see, ‘shape’ doesn’t mean ‘twee’ or ‘cute’. She has a remarkable capacity for typographical play and meaningful, wonderful words. I’m happy to say that I’ve got a whole folder full of these poems and I’m hoping to get a fine press book out of them, sooner rather than later. This is just a taster.

The inked forme

I had to print the edition in batches, of course. I found I could print about 150 in a session before my attention started to wander and bad mistakes made. I may be printing in multiple from a machine that gives a consistent result, but I still have to give each and every print my full attention because the ink may be too thin or too juicy, a hair may have landed on the forme or a spacing lead may have worked its way to the surface, making it’s own stray ink mark. I hate it when I’ve printed four or five prints without spotting the problem, which is what limits the printing session.

drying on the back of the press

I also had to hand-tear the paper because I like to make things hard for myself  it looked so much better than guillotined edges.

mounds of hand-torn paper

I’m kicking myself now because I forgot to take a photo of the piles and piles of finished prints before I packaged them up and post them. I even forgot to document the package! Stoopid.

Of course, studio cat extraordinaire, Mr Padge, helped at every stage. Here he is, supervising the drying racks and dusting the (shockingly dirty, ahem) floor. (I shaded the pages from the sun because red is not the most lightfast colour in the universe.)


I also really liked the back of the forme.

the back side

Pattern for Plain Heart, 2012
Ampersand Duck and Sue Wootton.
Letterpress on 120gsm Magnani Vergata Wove paper, 252 x 178mm, open printing of c. 800.