Flipping Our Lids

It’s kind of tough to play the pay-as-you-go game in letterpress printing.

Take ink, for example.

More precisely, take 2.2 pounds of ink, or a kilogram, if you prefer or have no choice but to use the metric system. (How un-American!) Now, say you’ve got a job coming in — thousand of units — that calls for a very specific, true metallic color, like copper. Nice call. You order up a tub of copper ink, about $100 on the street, then figure out that it would actually be a bit cheaper to buy a couple of tubs at the two-kilogram discount.

Then the job is canceled. Maybe the client has checked with the board of directors, which insists on a different color. Or, as has been known to happen even at Typecast Press, you did the math wrong. You actually needed only a bit but have purchased a bunch.

Shop Boy’s guessing the first scenario (a frequent occurrence in the business) or the second (ask Mary about that one, then stand back) is what left Vince Pullara III with several storage closets full of untouched tubs of ink. He’s a pretty bright guy with one heck of a printing pedigree.

But there it was, all that ink needing a new home as Vince tries to streamline his printshop a bit. By the dust on a few of the cans — and the dates (1989!) — much of the ink may very well have been ordered by Vince’s dad when he ran Baltimore’s Inter-City Press.

Wow! Stacks and stacks were already waiting for us, then Vince pointed to the supply cabinets, chatting and making suggestions on using the stuff — while never stopping a long run of envelopes he’d been in the middle of.

Shop Boy only hopes that we’re this giving of our free time and free … stuff when we decide to upgrade. Vince has been so great to Typecast Press that we were feeling a bit gluttonous packing up all that ink.

Vince’s response to our tentativeness?

He cleared a huge rolling cart and handed us more boxes. And off we went, Mary’s car sagging from the weight. Yeah, yeah, it’d have been smart to bring the truck, but we had no idea what kind of volume Vince was looking to move. You know? Don’t show up with an empty rail-freight car, a forklift and a crane when a printshop owner says he might have a little  something you can use. That’s rude.

Anyway, we hauled all the ink back to the Fox Industries building, lugged it up the stairs and piled it into the new, unfinished space. Mary, who just loves cute forms, ran to the computer to design an ink inventory list, replete with Typecast Press logo, rounded borders and, ahem, an aquamarine banner.

Then we grabbed a couple of rags, dusted the cans, separated the tubs by ink color, logged in the Pantone numbers and brand names (for quick visual ID) and finally made two large piles. One for us, one for the printshop at the Maryland Institute College of Art, including a tub of copper.

See? We can be generous.

We’re learning from a pro.

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