02 February 2012

Letterpress project

My first idea for a project involving letterpress was to set one of my poems but by the time it came to starting I wanted to do "something with punctuation" - taking out the words and leaving just the commas, dashes, quote marks - and the spaces, for spaces are as important in the flow of words as the pauses signalled by stops, semi-colons, etc. When I ran the idea past James, the letterpress guru, he suggested turning the type upside down and printing with the bottom of the slug - brilliant!

The text is a paragraph from an article on erasure by Mary Ruefle that happened to be in my handbag. I decided to leave the first person pronoun, as I occurs several times in the text. Here's the first proof of the first three lines -
I really enjoyed getting to know where the letters can be found in the type case (this is Times 18 point) and seeing the lines fill up. It's slow going, though - imagine setting an entire book!

At the end of the (short) day there was more type and a proper proof -
That's about half the paragraph. The "mistake" of the T being right way up has me thinking about how, by turning the type over, letters and words could appear along the lines, gradually revealing the text.


Sandy said...

hangman...or random letters left to say something equally random.
Or a summary of the text or the theme.

Jane Housham said...

How extraordinarily apposite -- a text on erasure, just there for the use of. I think this is very interesting, but hope you don't mind my questioning the privileging of the 'I' over all the other words. As it still doesn't enable access to the meaning of the whole text, is there any point including it? Also, to me, it's a shame that the 'blank' mark has a mark on it (like a dash) as this perhaps interferes with the 'genuine' dashes and other punctuation marks. Really interesting idea, though. A bit Fluxus??

Kathleen Loomis said...

I had to learn to handset type in order to get my journalism degree in the 60s -- talk about obsolete job skills! I loved it. Once you start to learn the layout of the case it becomes almost a zen process, much like handstitching.

Great project!