So many things to learn… so many paths to walk on.

October 6, 2009

Since my last post I have had several go’s on the Vandercook #3 Proof Press. This is a beautiful press on which I’ll be doing most of my work at the studio. It is manually operated, which means each & every item is individually fed into the press by hand. Truly “hands-on”–which means it is also very lovingly handmade.

To go along with this theme, I have (almost surely) decided on a name I want to adopt if I really get into letterpress this year. I didn’t really want to pick a random pretty word and throw “Press” on at the end–though that seems to be the norm for many letterpress businesses–but to stray far from that might confuse customers as to what I actually do. I’ve settled into the name Nightingale Handmade with the subtitle “Paper / Press / Design” to clue people in that I not only offer services in letterpress, but also design consultation and handmade paper. You might be wondering why I’ve assumed the nightingale as a sort of online representative (this has been with me since way back in the ol’ AIM days), and I would love to share. The nightingale is the most infamous songbird of all and is thought to sing the song of love and longing. It has been the subject of many heartbreaking tales, such as Romeo and Juliet and Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose, in which the bird sings of “the love that is perfected by death, of the love that dies not in the tomb.” Spiritual references abound in stories of the nightingale; the Physiologus noted that supposedly it sang with increasing joy at the approach of the dawn, representing the Christian joyfully anticipating Christ, their Light.

As you can see, there are countless beautiful, complex stories in reference to the nightingale and its song. It represents to me a deeply meaningful and ever-evolving exploration of myself–my purpose, my ultimate end, and where I find fulfilment. It is so worth it to read any tales of the nightingale and especially this explanation of some myths and legends associated with the bird.

So there you have it–the enchanting myths attached to my chosen representative. If I am able to start up my own letterpress business, it’s an initiative I will hopefully dive headfirst into in the coming months & will thrive off the love and passion personified by the nightingale. I’m so excited–I can’t wait to get started! 

One last story to leave you with: the first time I used the press, my boss & letterpress teacher, Mitch, chose a random metal stamp from a drawer and we brought it over to the beloved Vandercook so I could try it out. The process began: inking, locking up, centering, feeding the paper, cranking… it felt surreal, yet natural. Ten months ago I posted as my Facebook status that “I want to learn letterpress more than anything,” never imagining my opportunity would come this soon. Because of the intricate detail & upside-down-and-backwards type, I had no idea what the stamp pictured–but then my paper came out, and what I saw was shockingly appropriate. Indeed, I am overjoyed to begin this embarkation into a process I fell in love with before I ever did it. So many things to learn…34405037

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