(un)touch(ed)

CONCEPT

sketches for David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

I began the creative process by doodling some ideas exploring the deconstruction of the supplied letterforms. I saw promise in the repetition of the straight and curved letter strokes.

marking up a proof of the David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

For nearly 10 years I’ve wanted to figure out a technique for safely masking and editioning wood type, and the concept I decided on for this print demanded it. While marking up a proof of the type it occurred to me how I could isolate the central strokes of the letterforms and mask them without creating additional pressure and possibly damaging the type.

FIRST RUN & EXPLANATION OF TECHNIQUE

first run lock-up for David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

I made a custom cylinder packing using strips of tympan paper (with a Mylar draw sheet) cut only as wide as the parts of the letters I wanted to print.

frisket used to mask wood type for the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

The second crucial component was making a frisket to protect the prints from picking up stray marks from the inked form.

printing David Wolske's first run for the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

There’s no pressure from the custom cylinder packing at the tops and bottoms of the letters. My experience printing on a hand press (for which a frisket is necessary) for the Red Butte Press edition of Wallace Stegner’s To a Young Writer provided the answer to a decade long riddle. I’m calling this technique  “plus-minus printing,” where the packing is the “plus” and the frisket is the “minus.” “isotype printing.”

the first print run of David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project on the drying rack

SECOND RUN

preparing the linoleum block for David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

For the second run, I wanted to print the counterforms (see the initial sketch). I scanned the original black proof (see image 2) and traced the counters in Adobe Illustrator and made them filled shapes. To get the now solid counterforms onto a linoleum block I printed the shapes with a laser printer, then traced the perimeter of each with a pencil. The pencil lines were placed against the linoleum and rubbed from the back of the sheet with a bone folder to transfer the outlines for cutting.

cutting the linoleum block for David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

mixing ink for the second run of David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

All three colors for the print use fluorescent, oil-based inks from Gans.

David Wolske's second print run for the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

The smooth, solid, pink, linoleum-cut counterforms contrast nicely with the open grain of the unshellacked wood type.

THIRD RUN

third run lock-up for David Wolske's contribution the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

Running the third color of David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

detail of the third print run from David Wolske's contribution to the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

I used brass, type-high rule to imply the missing ascenders (t, h), cross stroke (t), and spur (u), and to suggest an exploded view of the letters.

FINAL PRINT

David Wolske's final print, "(un)touch(ed)" for the Vista Sans Wood Type Project

(un)touch(ed)
2012
3 color letterpress
17.25 × 24 inches

Leave a Reply