Designing a (haiku) drink coaster, pt 1

This jigsaw of metal type, wood and quoins (those locks that hold it tight)...

This jigsaw of metal type, wood and quoins (those locks that hold it tight)…

I met with Emily Hancock of St Brigid Press today to go over some designs and proofs of the “Night Walk on Cape Cod” haiku sequence. When you set metal type by hand, you cannot be cavalier with your design decisions! After years of using InDesign to design books, it was wild getting back into a workspace where each letter and every bit of “empty” space is actually a physical object to place so that the reader best navigates the printed page. (No Ctrl-Z here, sez he!)

...placed on this hundred-year-old press and adjusted and tweaked  by Our Dedicated Printer...

…placed on this hundred-year-old press and adjusted and tweaked by Our Dedicated Printer…

The full set will be 8 coasters, each with a different haiku from the sequence. The front/top will have the haiku with a wave-like ornament, printed in a wonderful dark green. Emily hand-mixed this color using at least two different greens and black.

The back will have the sequence title, the place of the poem within the sequence, and the printer’s mark.

Emily has set type for five of the eight haiku, and printing will begin this weekend.

In letterpress printing, nothing is as simple as it seems. Even in printing the coaster’s back, Emily will have to stop printing eight different times, pull the type off the press, and adjust the sequence number on the back (see below for proof of what the back of the first coaster will look like).

...turns into this proof of the coaster's back. In the background is an actual coaster, undoubtedly anticipating its eventual transformation.

…turns into this proof of the coaster’s back. In the background is an actual coaster, undoubtedly anticipating its eventual transformation.

The typeface for the poems is Garamond Italic, and in the next post I’ll show a few proof samples of the haiku design.

Photo of the press courtesy of St Brigid Press

One thought on “Designing a (haiku) drink coaster, pt 1

  1. St Brigid Press

    And away we go! I’m about to begin printing the back of the coaster this morning.
    It’s great fun to work with not only an accomplished poet like Jeff, but one who was also a letterpress printer back in the day!

    Reply

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