Inaugural Thin Ice Press PrintSoc Meeting

After the official launch of Thin Ice Press it is time to turn our attention to new and exciting endeavours. Recently we held the inaugural meeting of the new student printing society. The event was free, and required no experience or membership, so it was a great opportunity to open the studio to students from across all academic disciplines and show how a former redundant study space has been transformed in the last year.

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The Print Studio in January 2019
team in the studio
The space in July 2018

We held two introductory activities. The first was to use our Albion press and receive a tour of the studio, and the second was an introduction to the history of printing in York and a crash course in setting metal type. The session was designed to give an insight into how students can use the studio and, we hope, to ignite an interest in the history of print. Few universities have access to such facilitates, so we believe it is vital to open up the studio and, at future events, let students experience the entire printing process and produce their own material.

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York was once home to a vibrant printing community and their shops, marked by the printer’s devil, can still be seen on Stonegate today. The early printers of York, like Thomas Gent, worked to preserve the history of the city and its surroundings, so it is wonderful to learn their working practices with current students and share a lesser known aspect of York’s history.

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We have since invited students to learn about metal type with Nick Gill and have even more events (including workshops, lino printing, collaborations, and talks) on the horizon. The society is open to all students at the University of York. For more information visit our page on the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU). Any questions, or to join our mailing list, please email: printsoc@yusu.org

Thank you to our YUSU activator Mi Chelle Cheah for taking photos during the event.

The Print Studio & Press Arrival

It’s been a hectic few weeks here at Thin Ice Press. A few weeks ago room D/L/051 begun its transformation into the print studio and, with all the old desks removed, the space was revealed to be great.

D/L/051
D/L/051 at the University of York…soon to be The Print Studio
team in the studio
The team in D/L/051 at the University of York

We’ve had many deliveries within the last few days. The first of these included type cabinets from urbanfox letterpress, some wooden type, spacers, ink…and a large yellow hazardous materials cabinet that is currently sitting in the English department reception!

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Deliveries piling up…I think everyone in the department reception will be as excited to have these items set up in the print studio as we are!

Last Friday lunchtime the room continued its transformation as new flooring was fitted. This development came just in time for the delivery of our three iron presses from The Logan Press, and also of the historic Gent press from Scarborough Museums.

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Work begins to transform D/L/051 into The Print Studio
Flooring
The flooring is down
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Shiny new door…soon to be changed to ‘The Print Studio’

The arrival of the presses today was one of the most exciting moments of the project so far. We were able to see how the iron presses we bought in June had been beautifully restored by The Logan Press and it was fascinating to watch all the parts come together to build the three presses you can see in the photos below.

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The eagle (a counterweight) from our Colombian press

Columbian 1

Columbian 2

Columbian 3

Columbian assembled
Our 1838 Columbian press assembled by The Logan Press
Albion
1847 tabletop Albion
Albion assembled
The smaller Albion seemed a lot easier to assemble in comparison to the Columbian
Arab 1
Arab presses were designed to be supplied in parts (like flat-pack furniture of today)

Arab 2

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Arab assembled
1926 Arab
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1838 Columbian, 1847 tabletop Albion and a 1926 Arab joining our Adana 8×5 at Thin Ice Press (Adana not pictured)

The hectic day of deliveries continued with the kind loan of the early 18th-century wooden common press, once owned by York printer Thomas Gent, from Scarborough Museums. The arrival of this press means we are now able measure the final pieces of the Gent press and complete the plans of our own reproduction wooden common press.

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The disassembled 18th-century wooden common press

These recent developments mean we can now move on with many of our plans, from printing to common press construction, but it has also offered up a moment to reflect on what we have achieved in a relatively short space of time. There is still a lot to do, move into the studio and tweaks to be made on all the presses, but we are now custodians of a historic press and room D/L/051 is home to a (soon to be) working printing studio!

A big thanks to The Logan Press for your work today and to Scarborough Museums for loaning us the Gent press. I’d also like thank everyone who has subscribed to this blog and those following our journey on Instagram and Twitter – it is so wonderful to see your engagement and enthusiasm towards our project.

New Adana 8×5 & Open Days at the University of York

Last week we welcomed an Adana 8×5 to the Thin Ice Press. Below you can see some photos of the team gathered round our new press as we set it up and the first ever imprint!

Our new Adana

Setting up the Adana press
Learning how to set up, ink and clean the Adana
First imprint by the Thin Ice Press, at the University of York
The first imprint by the Thin Ice Press on our new Adana!

After viewing a wide range of presses at The Logan Press we began to realise how amazing it would be to own machines from different eras, allowing us to chart letterpress history. As the Adana is the first and most modern of our press collection it will allow us to extend that vision all the way from the 1700’s, with our common press, into the 1950’s with the Adana.

During our visit to The Logan Press we ordered three large iron presses so decided it would also be a good idea to have a more portable press, as the smallest iron press may be called a ‘table top’ Albion but it is far harder to transport in comparison to the much smaller Adana.

Tabletop Albion Press
Tabletop Albion Press
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The much smaller tabletop Adana

This will allow us to move the Adana around the University and even transport it to events – so we can tell people about the Thin Ice Press and the future of the project with a press alongside! Our first opportunity to try this out happened last weekend as the Adana arrived just in time for the University of York open days. We set it up in the English Department foyer so we could offer prospective students the exciting opportunity of hands on engagement with our first press, alongside chatting about the printing history of York and our future plans for the letterpress studio.

Adana Press at University of York Open Day
Using the press at the University of York open day!

It was brilliant to see how much enthusiasm was created by our first and smallest press – we can’t imagine how excited people will be to see the finished studio and other presses! Follow our Twitter and Instagram for more project updates and a big thank you from the Thin Ice Press team to Caslon for the speedy delivery of our Adana.