Letterpress List No. 51: With a Bullet

I pushed when I should have pulled, and now Shop Boy wanted to put a bag over his head.

See, we were printing another set of Tokyo totes for Form, a very chic local fashion shop. Form’s got a flowery, pinkish-red logo by its owner, Aimee Bracken, Mary’s old design buddy. Real cool.

The bags have rigid paper straps that, before we had the big C&P, had to be individually taped down to avoid getting ink on them as we ran the totes through the smaller press. Holding the straps in place are little metal rivets. The totes were made in China so, as you might imagine, there are some make-ready issues for dealing with, um, quality control. And every once in a while, a bag will have a loose rivet hidden somewhere in a seam that could smash your plate and dent your base. So Shop Boy shakes each bag vigorously while preparing a stack for printing.

But doesn’t it always seem that the ones that get you are the ones right in front of your eyes? You ignore them, just as Shop Boy did a little prepress advice from Mary. Something about not worrying about throwing off the impression if I misfeed a bag. Just pull the bag out of the press’ jaws.

Shop Boy: “What? Oh, don’t worry. I’m running them real slow. I won’t misfeed.” (Besides, pulling the bag out would mean inking the tympan, then having to clean it and wait until it dried before continuing the run. What a pain, especially when a hand-fed run of 300 bags takes hours already.)

Mary: “No, really. Just do it.”

Well, she must have distracted me or something, because just when Shop Boy was hitting his groove, a bag jumped the guides. Once. Twice. Then a third time. (They really are oddly shaped suckers.) Reacting quickly, I threw the machine off impression.

Mary: “No!”

Shop Boy: “It’s OK, I threw it off impression.”

Mary: “No! Pull the bag out! I told you! You probably just destroyed the plate!”

Yes, as the bag fell into the press, the handles went in too, bringing the rivets into the impression zone. Even with the press on “trip,” there was no room for them in there. My chest felt cold. You know that feeling? The bags were due the next day. Shop Boy figured he’d really done it this time.

I could barely look into the press bed as I slowly rolled the wheel to crank it open.

Boxcar base bullet wound: check (but not in a key spot).

Polymer plate bullet wound: negative.

Shop Boy: “Whew! That was close. I’m so relieved.”

Mary: “About what? Look at this base. You’re lucky it hit where it did. Do you know how much one of these things costs?”

Maybe she can take it out of Shop Boy’s allowance.

Oh, wait …


Letterpress List No. 51

How about an hour’s worth of music to celebrate Shop Boy’s 100th post by. (Mary thinks I’m maybe a little too proud of that, um, milestone. Bah! I waited a whole week to crow. Besides, nobody’s going to gaze into my navel for me, right? Missed one or two posts? No problem. Just keep reading … and reading … and reading … Shop Boy does go on a bit.) Most of these songs should be available in the usual places. Goofy and great video links are to YouTube.

Hockey SkatesKathleen Edwards (“Do you wish that your nose was longer so you’d have an excuse not to see past it?” Oh, Mary, give me my moment of vanity!)
Stop, Look & ListenRollins Band (Got the first two right.)
StupefyDisturbed (Don’t I feel dumb.)
Tokyo DriftTeriyaki Boyz (Twisted metal … er, techno.)
Fire in the HoleVan Halen (Neither Dave nor Sammy — ugh.)
Come Together the Beatles (The press opens and closes. Doesn’t care what’s between it.)
Stuck in the Middle With YouStealer’s Wheel (Did I mention that polymer plates can be pretty pricey, too?)
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
Smashing Pumpkins (Tokyo totes, aka pretty press wreckers.)
Pull Me Out Alive Kaki King (But ink the tympan? Forget it.)
Missed Me Dresden Dolls (By thiiiiiiiiiiis much.)
Damaged GoodsSouthern Culture on the Skids (Got lucky.)
Roll With It Stevie Winwood (Hey, no blood, no foul.)
Papa’s Got a Brand New BagJames Brown (Form’s got one, too.)
Slammin’ Buckcherry (Forehead tattoo; “Crash Test Dummy.”)
96 TearsQuestion Mark & the Mysterians (Thank goodness it didn’t come to that.)
The FragileNine Inch Nails (OK, maybe he’s a little more down than Shop Boy was.)
Quality of Mercy — Michelle Shocked (Uh, sorry?)
Crawling From the Wreckage Dave Edmunds (Shop Boy works cheap, so he tends to survive such, OK, fireable offenses.)

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