Letterpress List No. 67: Take Two

You know that you’ve been pretty successful as a start-up printing operation if a mere two years after you brought all these presses back from grunge and grime to a state that could almost pass for pristine in some parts … you’ve got to do it all again.

And Shop Boy is having a hard time getting up for that. I mean, can’t anything just stay clean for once? I hear echoes of my dad in my own moaning, remembering how he’d look around for his tools in the shed I’d messed up and grouse, “You people can’t keep anything nice!”

Part of the problem is, of course, the paper. It’s mainly the great cotton stuff we like to use to give the stationery a big impression. It sheds like a kitten, but that’s just part of the package.

Then there’s Mary’s obsession with keeping the presses well oiled. I get it: That’s a good notion to have. But when the guidebooks tell you that a press should be oiled daily, that’s a reference to presses that are manned around the clock to churn out product. Not those run two to three hours a day in a heavy week. (We also spread the jobs among the Vandercooks, C&Ps and the Heidelberg based on the size, the personality and the deadline of the job.)

Anyway, when a sheik calls and invites you to join OPEC, you are swimming in oil, my friend. And cotton dust turns the puddles to mud.

But Shop Boy shouldn’t whine. Each of those slimy machine parts represents a lesson learned as we continue down the sometimes bumpy road to a level of quality and production that we’re determined to achieve. Mary’s, ahem, fairly good already. I like to joke that I long ago wiped out on the learning curve and crashed into someone’s living room. But if you’d told me two years ago that Shop Boy would be pulling off some of these solo projects, I’d have graciously ushered you toward the exit, figuring you’d had enough already.

So here I go to the supply closet. Steel wool, motor oil, degreaser, rags, paper towels, razor blade, screwdriver, Q-tips. Yep, they’re all there.

Do it right, and maybe I can buy myself another two years.


Letterpress List No. 67

How about an hour’s worth of music to clear two years’ worth of cotton paper dust from a Heidelberg’s grippers and gears by? OK, Shop Boy’s whining again — it’ll take only about an hour and 50 minutes. Most of these tunes should be available in the usual places. Goofy and great videos are from YouTube.

Do It AgainQueens of the Stone Age (Could listen to it over and over.)
Echo Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Wait … Shop Boy’s been here before.)
Rags to Riches Kool & the Gang (Or, to put it another way …)
Heel Over Head Puddle of Mudd (The low spots: my “speci-ality.”)
Dead Man’s CurveJan and Dean (Can’t walk away.)
Beds Are BurningMidnight Oil (How would Shop Boy know if they were on fire? I had my first collapse onto the printshop cot late the other night. Jeez. Can’t say we didn’t see it coming, though.)
Dirty Deeds AC/DC (Shop Boy ain’t perfect, but he’s dirt cheap.)
Galvanize — the Chemical Brothers featuring Q-Tip (Yup, you’ve heard it before. Think beer commercial. Hey, a man’s gotta get paid, right?)
Same Old Song and DanceAerosmith (The Toxic Twins, who’ve had a fairly amazing post-rehab run.)
Down In It Nine Inch Nails (Guess the joke’s on me.)
Dust to Dust Misfits (This cotton paper thing’s pretty cool “green”-wise. Renewable resource. Kills no trees. Takes a great impression. All that makes the mess a bit easier to live with.)
I Made a Mess of This TownScott Miller (Accidental discovery. Nice.)
God Bless This MessSheryl Crow (Her heart’s usually in the right place … when it doesn’t come to men, that is.)
The Nobodies Marilyn Manson (Typecast Press: Remember that name, folks.)

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