Category: Graphic design

Printing at St Bride’s Foundation

There can be few more delightful ways of spending a Saturday than in the print workshop at the St Bride’s Foundation just off Fleet Street. St Bride’s includes not only the print workshop, but also a museum of design and print; a theatre; a library (as well as a disused swimming pool). A day spent learning the letterpress printing process is a reminder of a time when print was made of lead and every action had to be carefully callibrated and calculated. To set the scene, here are pictures of two of the printing presses.

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My time was spent with the rather more modest Adana machine which is designed to produce letterpress printing at about A6.  The process of getting from type to print is difficult, demanding and very enjoyable.  This is the Adana. In this case blue ink is being applied to the ink plate. However, first some illustrations of the process of putting together the type.

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This box contains a selection of individual letters all made of lead together with ‘leads’, the strips of lead applied between each row of type which leads to the current term leading to refer to the space between lines of print. Individual letters are selected and then placed in reverse order and with a mirror image into a callibrated tray.

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Each line of type is assembled and held together loosely by the leading. A frame made of steel is then placed around the line of type. Blocks of metal are then inserted until the line of type is strongly bolted into place.

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This is then placed in the Adana and following the inking of the ink pad, a single sheet of paper is inserted and printed.

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The result can be seen below.

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The process was delicate, produced modest results but was very satisfying. As the excellent teacher pointed out, mistakes were allowed and encouraged and could all be corrected. There was no need to be concerned with software failures or printers that did not work, every action could be observed, understood and used. Here are some of the wood typefaces just waiting to be used.

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This recycling bin broadcasts stock market prices but does it use more energy than it saves?

These recycling bins have appeared near to Cheapside. They show share prices and provide news updates on two digital screens. They do not appear to be solar powered. So is the energy saved by encouraging recycling undermined by the energy expended in providing the information service?

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The road to Central St Martins

This road through a building site emerged last week to coincide with new Central St Martin’s site. It’s a stage set boulevard with twenty mature trees and what looks like a real road in between buildings waiting to be designed.

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What is the connection between the opening of Westfield in Stratford and the closure of Gaby’s Salt Beef Bar in the Charing Cross Road?

Here is a picture of the hotel at the new Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, viewed from the International terminal.

And here is a picture of Gaby’s salt beef bar in the Charing Cross Road.  Westfield is about a week old and has been welcomed as the saviour of East London.  Gaby’s is about fifty years old and following a decision by Westminster Council is due to be closed down to make way for a Strada or similar.  The government has been attempting to revive the high street; Charing Cross Road is very much a high street but most of the qualities for which it was known: books, independent traders, a college of art – and the lives of its immigrants – have now gone.  Gaby’s is eccentric, the quality of the salt beef varies with each visit; the number of free falafels depends on who is serving; and the toilets are pretty grimey but is has character, enterprise, personality and history.  It is part of the place that is my London – Westfield, where I stayed for about twenty five minutes, speaks for itself.

Great green wall outside National Gallery

The National Gallery, London has recently unveiled a living wall depicting Van Gogh’s painting A Wheatfield with Cypresses.