Veteran’s Art Center hosts century old printing press in Grand Junction
ANTIQUATED PRINT JARGON LIVES ON TODAY
Words — like kerning and leading (pronounced “ledding” — are still used today in modern page design, though they’re rooted in old-fashioned press techniques.
For folks unfamiliar, kerning is described as the adjustment of spacing between characters. Leading comes from lead strips which were put between set lines of lead type.
in the 1900s, machinery was manufactured to last. Folks simply didn’t have time or money to continue to replace equipment.
A Chandler & Price press, built around the 1900s, currently lives at Grand Junction’s Veteran’s Art Center (307 S. 12th St., Grand Junction). Eli Hall, a Colorado Mesa University graphic design professor, discovered the press two years ago within an unorganized storage area.
It needs only a few new rollers and frequent oil applications to keep it running, Hall said, adding: “This machine will out live us all.”
Although Wendy Hoffman, the Veteran’s Art Center’s founder/operator, wouldn’t sell the equipment, she allows Hall to use it in exchange for volunteer hours. So, for the past two years, Hall has held an advanced typography class at the center, bringing in two senior students a semester to learn vintage techniques for print and type.
The printing press is also used to create unique artwork — from coasters to holiday cards — sold in Colorado Mesa University’s bookstore, along with several other stores throughout the Grand Valley. Students design from the thousands of stamps available, which were found with the antiquated machine as well.
“I like to think of it as a working museum,” Hall said. “It gives them a perspective of where typography came from.”
HOW IT WORKS
According to Hall, when setting up the machine, ink is placed on the ink disc. The operator then gives the wheel a giant push, which “turns on” the machine — as a continuous motion of rollers grabs ink, rolls the ink and then repeats the process. When a piece of material is placed on the “platen,” where the blank sheet of material sits, it is lowered down to meet with the stamp. The material is then embossed and inked at the same time.
Hall explained the rhythm is important to ensure that no fingers are flattened during the printing process.
During the interview, Hall and his senior student, Candace Marolf, made drink coasters, which displayed sayings, cartoons and more.
Marolf and Hall agreed the set-up and clean-up takes longer than actual printing jobs. During a five-minute period, Marolf created about 80 coasters of the same design.
To see more photos and updates on where finished products will be sold, visit http://www.cmuart.com.
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