Feeling a little jaded, tired and grumpy, I have nothing of note to record and my hands are cold. Let me take you back through the mists of time, to far off November, when I escaped the village by coercing Andy to bike me over to the Fine Press Book Fair in Oxford.
It was somewhat overwhelming; spending much of my time alone, and rarely going anywhere of cultural interest, I was staggered by the atmosphere of bustling bookishness. At the same time, I felt completely at home, and had a few pleasant potters round the hall with a big dopey grin on my face, for no particular reason apart from being surrounded by gorgeous books, prints, papers and letterpress stands. Several names I recognised, and I was hoping to say hello to a couple of contacts I'd made through that brash (but oh-so-invaluable-for-hermits) newcomer, the internet. I spotted Andy English at once, though not knowing him at all, I hung back from saying 'hello, I know you through Sue's blog'. Which might have sounded a bit - well, weird. When he was not chatting to customers, he was bent over his little cushion thingy, working on one of his blocks. That's him in the foreground, to the right of the lady in the maroon top. He has also done a very good blog post of his own about the fair, with much better photos.
I eventually managed to find Alan Brignull, who runs the Hedgehog Press, (no website, alas) and produces his very own Adanaland stamps. After a few weeks of emails, we finally got to shake hands and say hello - I had bought him a humble offering of some of my cards, and he had kindly brought me some spare parts for my miniature Adana, which is sadly falling to bits. After a chat, we parted company, and I beetled off to find the Incline Press, another grapevine contact. One of those times when you have to say 'hi, we've never met in person but...' and so I became acquainted with the lovely Graham and Kathy who produce the most gorgeous books and whose stall was buzzing with a little crowd of admirers.
When they were busy with punters, I took the opportunity to take some pictures of their beautiful creations-
Some great advice was had from Graham and I realised not for the first time what a tiny and tightly connected world the UK letterpress community is.
Apart from learning the hard way how not to approach a print job, I now realise that what I want to do with my printing is a hundred years away from the kind of amazing craftsmanship I witnessed at the Book Fair. I am going off into the gift stationary side of things, which will involve such heresies as polymer plates and impressioning the card stock (which, believe me, can produce extraordinary - and even vitriolic - reactions in the extreme, traditional branches of the letterpress community). But I am more interested in the end product rather than the process, so I will leave the professional stuff to the professionals. In the meantime, I have found some lovely printing blogs, which are full of stunning work and useful tips - so if you are interested in 21st century letterpress and you don't get high blood pressure from seeing polymer block work or impressed stock, then pop over to - Snap and Tumble, Satsuma Press, Moontree Letterpress, and Poppy Letterpress. Enjoy.