November classes are sold out and the shop build is still underway. Zz School is one electrical modification away from being semi-functional. When I bought the C&P this summer, I was excited but nervous to own a machine so large, especially a model that I have little experience operating. I am now, but not forever, a letterpress amateur and proud of it.
A "printmaker" since my sophomore year of college in 1999, in my past, I have at times felt intimidated by the technical knowledge and experience of others. In this field, "shop talk" is often a part of everyday conversation. I am sure I am not alone as I recall the many many times that I have been under-qualified as fellow printmakers describe this or that. For those of you who are not printmakers, sometimes it is exactly like when people talk about obscure bands or rare movies. :)
As a teacher, part of my philosophy is about honesty and the sharing of information as humbly and democratically as possible. I do not aim to intimidate anyone and I love to learn from individuals who share knowledge without the airs of a pedestal. In the classroom, when my students explain techniques to me or the class that I am unfamiliar, I am happy to give them that space.
The letterpress world can be exclusive. In the past two months of owning my C&P, I have already had three conversations in which rudimentary printmaking concepts were explained to me in slow speech over the phone. (No one local, thanks Kansas City!) It is something I have humor toward. (To be fair one of these man-splainers was a WOman-splainer, my favorite type, but still irritating.) As letterpress equipment and tools become more and more trendy and collectible as non-functional display items, I do understand this pretension. That thick shell grows on letterpress enthusiasts as more type cases are covered with chalkboard paint and filled with knickknacks.
This week at Zz School we moved my Chandler and Price from one part of the shop to another. This 1200-1500 pound machine needed to be lifted onto skids, attached, and then lifted into skates and then pushed about 80 feet into the next room. All week I was losing sleep, irrationally imagining the machine tipping over onto my intern. Luckily, I had five generous individuals help me to safely get this job done in just under three hours. The press rolled into the next room and my friends patiently adjusted the position, at my request "a centimeter to the right." It feels cliche to mention, but this triumph made me feel like a true printmaker, even more so than my master degree.