Happy Leap Day!

I really hadn't given much thought to frogs. I knew vaguely about the endangered red-legged frog, but I hadn't been following their ups and downs. So, when I had a dream about one I was puzzled, surprised even. From where had it hopped? The odd thing is that it was the last dream I had in 2019.

There are some postage stamps with frogs on them (that I had not been interested in previously). And I do like postage stamps. Obviously, I would have to do some mail art.

I drew my image and carved it out of linoleum, intending for a reduction print, which I printed.

But my letterpress (likely manufactured in the 1950s) was complaining. There was no way I would be able to print text on the back without a house call from Alan Hillesheim, letterpress doctor (he also teaches a letterpress maintenance and other letterpress printing classes at SFCB).

After an hour or so he figured out one likely problem, had me cut a one-inch shim out of book board to re-align the mechanism, advised me to order new rubber rollers, and showed me some simple maintenance. (I've had this press since 1987, I should say, and it's amazing that it has gotten this far. But old machines were so much better made!) My rollers were glazed: that meant that the ink was just sliding over the form rather than laying it down properly.

I sent the cores to Ramco Rollers, a family-run business, and two weeks later the rollers returned, recovered. Literally. I recovered, too, and was able to print again, and so much easier! I printed my poem in spring green (yellow plus process blue). Printing blind (without ink, not without my glasses) on the back, I added my name and a frog engraving. And the stamp.

I sent Alan a picture of the press in printing progress, to which he replied, "Excellent. I want to hear that your life as a printer has reached heaven status."

I'm still in shock, actually, but I don't have to perform incantations and contortions to get the press to print without complaining. On the stairway to heaven. Thank you, Alan!

Happy Leap Day to everyone!

P.S. I may have some unsigned seconds. If you would like one, send me your paper mail address, and I'll let you know.


Alisa said…
Bea—thanks! Got your note and will send you a card.
Alisa said…
Lynn—thanks! got your note and will send you a card.