Keep Your Shirt On

In the wrong hands, the simplest and most useful of tools can create very complex issues in the printshop.

Take the level. Fascinating bit of ingenuity. Comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. Shop Boy’s is a gift from Mary’s dad, Wayne Mashburn, who had purchased it for one of the countless work projects we drag him to Baltimore to help with. He then left it behind for Shop Boy — because what kind of idiot doesn’t have a level in his printshop?


Use the level (ours is red, about a foot long, with three Martian-green bubble gauges) to make certain that your printing press is perfectly square with the floor, lest unwanted wear and tear and frustrating make-ready efforts ensue.

Level your drafting table or imposing stone and compose type or place dingbats and plates with the confidence that, when locked into the printing press, they’ll stay flat and true, because that’s how you built them.

Now, put that level in the hands of Miss February of the Fantasy Builders wall calendar (Go ahead … take a peek. I’ll wait here.) and it becomes fairly obvious right quickly that … well, um … it’s not a tool best used for leveling your shirt.

You know our joke here at Typecast Press: that every letterpress printshop must have a girlie calendar for authenticity’s sake.

So, Shop Boy turned the page from January to February — and turned three shades of red. On the job site, Miss February’s work shirt had somehow both plunged at the cleavage and rolled halfway up her … oh, you get the idea. Shop Boy didn’t know quite what to say.

Mary? First, she addressed the authenticity problem by leveling with Shop Boy. (“Not real.”)

Then, she prepared to address that little make-ready problem that this young woman’s level misuse had wrought. (“You want stars or hearts?”)

We did a job a while back that included die-cutting orange stars and blue hearts from a foldover card. The little punch-outs were so neat that we gathered them up and keep them around for just such emergencies as tend to arrive with each new month of the Fantasy Builders calendar. A little glue stick and a star strategically placed here and — oh my! — there for sure.

Give it a day or two, and Miss February’s going to look like Miss Fourth of July, what with the fistful of stars at Mary’s disposal.

She’ll set the matter straight. And our little printshop joke might just be in its final months … or days.

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