Lab 5

Printing was both harder and easier than I expected. There was a steep learning curve when we began setting the type but after some practice, the process became much easier. One of the biggest problems we encountered was sharing cases and materials with other printing groups. The cases were not always organized, making it harder to find and put away sorts. These small problems added up, emphasizing how many moving pieces have to come together to print successfully.

Working in pairs was very helpful since setting the type involved both large scale and small scale work. In our group, one would find the letters and spaces while the other arranged the text on the compositor stick. When arranging the text, it helped to have someone bring the appropriate spaces and leading to you. It was especially hard to find the correct spaces since the text we chose to print was centered on the page. To be perfectly centered, we wanted to have the same spacers on either side of the text. Because the cases were being shared, it was hard to find multiple of the same space.

After setting type myself, I realize how much planning and forethought has to be put into printing an entire page. It was like creating and solving a puzzle simultaneously. Our text was only four lines but fitting the type around an image was harder than we originally expected. The image we used was wider than the rest of the text so we had to center it using the furniture instead of spaces. All this would have to be planned ahead of time if filling the entire page.

I can’t imagine writing/composing text while setting the type. Especially since the type has to be reverse and backwards, it was hard to arrange the text even when copying something already written.

After experiencing how much time and attention goes into preparing a page of type, I find it all the more unfair that women involved with printing were not recognized for their work. There is so much work that goes on behind the final product of a book that was taken for granted. Even while we were printing, I didn’t think of where the paper was made or who made the sorts. It would be hard to relinquish control over a project to which you devoted so much time. I also appreciate that we got to choose what text we printed, which I realize would not usually be the case.