Category: Typography

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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Join me this weekend for two Open House walks

This Sunday I am leading two walks for London Open House.  The first is a guided tour of Golden Lane Estate.  The second is a tour of the City of London’s newest landscape architecture schemes.  Both tours are free but need to be booked through Open House.

Booking details for Golden Lane. 

Booking details for City of London Landscape – Landscape Institute London.

Carnival graphic design failure

This strange poster is designed to promote the Notting Hill Carnival. It shows a pidgeon clothing itself in a parrot outfit. An odd image as pidgeons are traditionally vermin extinguished in places like Trafalgar Square.

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A view from the bridge – and the balcony of the newly-restored St Pancras Hotel

Behind the scenes at the recently-opened St Pancras Hotel.  These pictures are taken from the internal bridge running through the hotel and from the small balcony above
the entrance to the grand staircase and what is now the main restaurant. The internal bridge runs across the two arches at the front of the hotel.  The occasion was a guided tour last Saturday by Royden Stock, hotel historian and tour guide who has been associated with the building for the past fifteen years.  He is highly knowledgeable, funny and deeply committed to the history of this amazing place. The tour is strongly recommended. This is his email.