'Sea Fever'

A wood engraving on lemon wood with letterpress 12 pt Perpetua typeface printed on 225 gsm C6 white greeting card with Caligo Safe Wash Etching Ink in Prussian Blue.

Last year I took a weekend course at Red Hot Press in an introduction to letterpress printing. During the weekend Katherine Anteney, our tutor and co-founder of the Red Hot Press, who used to be a compositor, taught us the terminology used by compositors to set type for the traditional printing of books. By the end of the course I had set and successfully printed the first stanza of one of my favourite poems, Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’, on a small Adana hand operated press. Since then I have been wondering about investing in my own founts and setting them together with a wood engraving to create one off or limited edition greeting cards.

So, as a special gift for my loved one this Christmas, I set about engraving a small block of lemon wood with the design of a yacht in full sail with a cruising shute. My idea was to add the first stanza of this poem which is so evocative to anyone who has a love of sailing and being on a sailing boat on the open sea. The last engraving I had completed was almost a year ago; one which I had really struggled with because of the brittle nature of the resin block compared with lemon wood. I contacted Roy Caslon at Adana and bought some basic letterpress equipment to get me started, including: a composing stick, a point ruler, spacing and reglet furniture and a small chase to use on my Waterlow copying press.

Having opted to do the Stopping by Woods piece in Eric Gill’s Perpetua typeface, designed in the 1920’s, I thought this would be a versatile typeface to start my own collection; initially with 12 pt upper and lowercase, and 14 pt uppercase.

However when I put the two together in the chase I really struggled to get the make ready just right to get a uniform inking across the block and type. This might have been exacerbated by the fact that I currently don’t have any purpose made letterpress ink so had used etching ink instead, and that I was running out of time to get it printed in time for Christmas!

Of course my loved one thought it was great but did query whether I would be happy sailing at night with the shute up!

Edition: Not applicable – personal use only

Block size: 70 x 90 mm

Card size: 105 x 150 mm portrait

Price: Not for sale