Friday, June 30, 2023

Testing, Testing


I took a few impressions from a linocut I carved a few years ago, printed with the nipping press I got today from Bob.

Apart from the one on a page from the phone book, they're all just on A5 copy paper, about 90gsm I think. The ink is Flint water-based relief ink. Printing went very, very easily with the plate on a 3mm grey-board baseboard, the paper over that, and a very thin felt over all. It's a lot quicker and easier to manipulate than the roller press, and MUCH easier than printing with a baren. The longest part of each print, as always, is rolling ink on to the plate.

I think the ink impression is less even than that I get from the roller press, but that might be down to the rolling-up. I don't mind a bit of irregularity in any case, as long as it's not too extreme; it adds a bit of character to the surface.

The image is 105 x 145 mm, so fairly small. There's room in the press for a bit over A4, but the inverse square law means that an increase in the area being squished requires increasingly more pressure to achieve the same results. I'll try a larger print, but my suspicion is that the largest practicable print size will be smaller than A4. We shall see.

Next Day

I did some multi-colour tests today, one lot on dampened 300gsm watercolour paper (left), and the other on the same 90gsm copy paper I used yesterday (below), printed dry.

The watercolour paper was a sad failure, with a very bad lack of consistency, and in one case the surface of the paper glued itself to the plate and tore away.

Admittedly, the paper isn't intended for printmaking, and maybe should have just been printed dry. The combination of the weight and surface texture made printing with the nipping press sub-optimal.

On the first one I did (top right) I got the sky gradient upside down. Doh!

The lighter, smoother copy paper returned much better results.

The fields of colour are much more consistent.

I shall have to see what I can get hold of in the way of relatively light-weight acid-free hot-press paper.

More New Old Tools


Today I got, from my friend Bob, some very welcome bits and pieces.

The nipping press has, at some stage, had its baseplate replaced with a piece of a big U-girder. It is bloody heavy. It could do with a bit of TLC, but it's really all cosmetic , and since I'll be using it with packing boards in any case I could really just use it as is. However, a bit of cleaning up will do no harm.

There are also four wooden planes: from left to right, a rabbet plane, a shoulder plane, a ¼" grooving plane, and a small moulding plane. They're all in pretty good nick apart from some cosmetic scruffiness, and from first acquaintance I think they'll just need a bit of sharpening and polishing.

Later on...

I disassembled it, took all the rust off the baseplate and scrubbed down the superstructure with a degreasing solvent, masked off the screw and gave everything a couple of coats of spray enamel.

Now it looks a lot tidier.

It was a lot easier to move around in two pieces. A lot easier. A bit tricky to reassemble though, but I got there in the end.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Bookbinding Again (but smaller)


As may have become apparent lately, I've been teaching myself a bit of bookbinding, courtesy of dozens of Youtube videos, and I've been practicing on the NORTHAG pdf I got way back when the original publication pre-orders for the hard copy were under way.

I printed it in 4-leaf (16 page) signatures using Acrobat Reader's booklet printing mode, and because I only have an A4 printer, the resulting pages are A5 (or slightly less due to the print margins).

I'm very far from being skilled at this craft, but I'm reasonably happy with this result. The stitching is pretty horrible, but that mess is invisible behind the spine stiffener, and the book opens nice and flat. The cover boards are grey-board covered with some printed cotton off-cut I got recently, sealed with a paste/acrylic medium mix.

I don't know that I'll get a lot of use from it, as the reduction in page size necessarily means smaller type, and my eyes aren't what they once were. The smaller form factor might make the book more convenient for travel though, as it's small enough to fit in a (largish) pocket.

Saturday, June 24, 2023



Following along with my habit of spending more time making tools to do a job than doing the actual job, today I made myself a little awl for punching holes in signatures for bookbinding.

It's made of oak, a little bit of 10mm brass pipe, and a mattress needle, and it's about 130mm long. I flattened off one side so that it won't roll around and fall off my work table.

Awl Mk.II

Today I made another awl, for punching larger holes if need be.

The actual spike came from an el-cheapo plastic-handled awl, but it's hardened steel so it should serve well in its fancy new oak handle.

Thursday, June 22, 2023



I've been watching a lot of bookbinding videos on YouTube lately, and I thought I'd give it a go.

I've done some bookbinding before, but I never really knew what I was doing — I was just guessing really. This is the first time I've actually followed any sort of instruction. In the photo it's sitting splayed out to dry overnight.

It's a very slender volume, just 48 pages (so 24 leaves), roughly A4. The text block is just a double-fan glue binding; I would have liked to try stitching it, but I don't have access to an A3 printer to make folded signatures of this size. The cover is a bradel binding, and I made the book-cloth covering from a scrap of printed cotton, saturated with a paste and acrylic medium mix to give it some stiffness and prevent glue strike-through.

The boards are 3mm grey-board. I could have gone a bit thinner I think; 2mm would have been quite adequate. They've warped a bit with all the glue, and I'll see if they settle down as everything dries out properly. If not, maybe a bit of clamping will help. And if it doesn't... well, it's not the end of the world.

2023-06-29 — More Bookbinding

This one is a copy of the GORE d100 system retroclone, built via Chaosium's BRP SRD to more or less replicate the game as it was in the early to mid 1980s.

This binding is more successful for various reasons, but not least because I did leave enough space at the spine this time for it to open fully flat

Also, this one is stitched rather than double-fan glued, and it's (roughly) A5.