How Ink Writes Poetry

Ray loves the fact that sometimes a hint of an idea will bang around in his head for years, and then for some inexplicable reason will coalesce into a project. This one is exactly like that, even resulting in back-to-back book projects.

After printing on a press, you need to clean the ink off. You don't want it to dry there, and you often want to put a new color and print another run. It helps if you can get most of that ink off the press as easily and quickly to start with and every printer has their particular method.

On our Vandercook Universal III which can print an 18" x 24" area, we squirt solvent onto the rollers and run a sheet of thin paper through it. We would hang them to dry which happens fairly quickly because of the thinned ink. Some of the images would really grab our attention, often looking like a landscape of a lake with hills reflecting in the distance. So, we started saving them. Sometimes we would run a sheet through a second time with a new color.

After a while, we started running 2 sheets through together which doubled our output and also kept the back of the sheets free of ink. They just stacked up in a cabinet drawer until we had several hundred of them.


SIDE STORY : We once won an eBay auction for some 48 point Onyx metal type. It probably weighed 30 pounds and was taped together with Scotch tape. It had no chance of staying together during shipping and came apart, mixing during shipment. Pulling it out sort by sort (a sort is an individual piece of metal type), we filled a galley. The galley sat around the studio for a while until we finally decided we should record the melee with a broadside below entitled, How Type Writes Poetry.

How Type Writes Poetry, pulled sort-by-sort, from the shipping box.

How Type Writes Poetry, pulled sort-by-sort, from the shipping box.

Several years later there sits this stack of "ink pulls." It was almost an inevitable project to produce a book of these sheets and call it How Ink Writes Poetry.

We've got an idea for extending the series to help explain some of society's important questions. We even used white ink on black paper pulls for the sheets for a book entitled, Electric Fire From the Clouds, based on Ben Franklin's experiments on electricity.

Below is a comparison of spreads from Artist Proof 1 and Artist Proof 2.


We can't wait until the Manhattan Book Fair to see how people take to the books.

Next book : Chesapeake Meander