Ray loves the fact that sometimes a sort-of-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 2 consecutive 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 method.
On our Vandercook Universal III which can print an 18" x 24" area, we started squirting solvent onto the rollers and running a sheet of thin paper through it. We would often hang them to dry which happens fairly quickly because of the thinned ink. We would admire some of the images and 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, which came apart during shipment. Pulling it out sort by sort, we filled a galley. The galley sat around for a while until we decided we wanted to record the melee with a broadside entitled, "How Type Writes Poetry."
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.
Here is a series of side-by-side images showing the first 2 copies of How Ink Writes Poetry. We can't wait until the Manhattan Book Fair to see how people take to the books.