the smell of oil and ink, the sound of a humming press

Early last spring I mentioned I had begun two collaborations with two local poets - helping in the design process and doing the printing of their respective book projects.

As the case is many times, these projects develop entirely on their own timeline. Sometimes a month or two will go by while we let ideas sit and germinate after a crucial step. For both of the women I am working with, the work itself has been written and lived with for many years already - there is no hurry to crash through the process of creating this object to hold.

In the past few weeks, I've been plugging away, for an hour or so here and there, at setting type for Open Sky, a poem by Allison Dubinsky. Paper was decided upon, ordered and cut to size. A polymer plate was made from one of the author's drawings, and the press was finally inked up to begin printing the cover.

I invited A. over yesterday to take a look at her poem, set and tied up, and to approve the placement of the text and image on the cover paper. I practically jumped up and down with happiness over how well the silver lays on the black paper.

I wanted to offer A. the chance to run a few covers through the press, since she had never had the opportunity to use a Vandercook. After a few impressions were made and with a little ink adjustment we got chatting about printing, fantasizing about a giant barn full of printing equipment, and other stuff...and on and on...and then, she had finished printing all 100 covers!

At some point I'd like to try to articulate how inspiring these collaborations are for me, and also how awesome it was to have A. take to printing like she'd been doing it all her life. Someday I'll get around to telling you. ..