How Ink Writes Poetry


How Ink Writes Poetry


RAY LOVES THE FACT that sometimes the seed of an idea will bounce around inside his head for years, and then for some inexplicable reason it will emerge into a viable project.

Here's the full story

RAY ONCE WON AN eBAY AUCTION for some 48 point Onyx metal type. It probably weighed 30 pounds and was held together with cellophane tape. It had no chance of staying together during shipping (see the photo to the left). Carefully removing the type sort by sort (a sort is an individual piece of metal type), Ray filled a galley, letter by letter in the order he removed them. The galley sat around the studio for several weeks until he finally decided to record the typographic melee with a broadside print entitled, How Type Writes Poetry, shown below.

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

Where raw materials come from

FLASH FORWARD TO 2015. After printing you have to clean all the ink from the press in preparation for the next run. It helps to get most of that ink off the press efficiently and quickly, and every printer has their particular method.

Typically on our Vandercook Universal III, Ray woud squirt solvent onto the rollers and run a sheet of whatever paper was available through the inking rollers. Some of the resulting abstract images would grab his attention, looking like a landscape or a lake with hills reflecting on its surface. He started saving them. Sometimes he ran a sheet through a second time with a new color.

Ray then hit upon the idea of running 2 sheets through together, which doubled the output and kept the back of the sheets clean. He started using heavy weight paper and collecting the good prints in a cabinet drawer until he had a few hundred of them.

Where ink and poetry come together

A FEW YEARS LATER there sits this mountain of what Ray had dubbed "ink pulls" in a couple of deep drawers. The Upper Chesapeake Book Artists Group (Elkton, MD) planned a members' show for late 2017, and Lead Graffiti wanted to make a splash. It was almost inevitable that Ray would use these dramatic, highly textured ink pulls to produce his new book project and title it How Ink Writes Poetry.

Executed on white paper with typically black ink, each copy of the book contains a final spread with 2 or more accent colors—a burst of visual energy and nonverbal joyful enthusiasm. This is how ink would write poetry.

More answers found in ink

LEAD GRAFFITI OFTEN UTILIZES spontaneity as a design component. As mentioned earlier, Ray's idea for his visual book has a twin. He is working now to expand the ink pulls into a series to help explain some of society's important questions along the lines of science, language, music, and more. Book #2 using these ink pulls uses its polar opposite of white ink on black paper and is entitled, Electric Fire From the Clouds, based on Ben Franklin's experiments on electricity.

Production details

How Ink Writes Poetry

Edition : 20 books, numbered and signed by Ray Nichols, printed in 2017 - 2019

Size :  22 pages, 8.5" x 17" overall

Binding : Bound by hand in a flutter book format with glued foredges

  • Covered with a sliding slipcover construction in Mohawk 120# Superfine with letterpress-printed title and spine

  • Main pages are cover-weight Suture paper or 120# Mohawk Superfine smooth illustrated edge-to-edge with hand-fed ink pulls

  • Pages include title, preface, and colophon

Production  :

  • Cover and title page handset in Euro metal type; preface and colophon printed with digital photopolymer plate

  • Printed slowly & patiently via letterpress in black plus one or more other colors on a Vandercook Universal III

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