Since the move, I’ve been getting my ducks in a row. I’ve bought some supplies, and done some drawing. The other day I finally got around to cleaning the press, which I felt it would appreciate before I put it to work. It was interesting getting to know it better in this way… discovering that it used to be painted bright blue by looking into little nooks and crannies, getting a better picture about how the mechanics actually work and why pieces of it are shaped the way they are… But it remains very mysterious to me. When I look at the counter, which has about 16,000 of its prints accounted for, I wonder what kinds of things it has made. I wonder about the people who have used it and loved it before me. I wonder if I would know if something went wrong with it, or if it would silently work in pain.

Brushing its teeth.

It’s probably fairly obvious from the picture that I’m scared of the press. So many parts of it could eat my appendages off without thinking about it. While I was sitting underneath cleaning it, I imagined the back of it falling off and crushing me. I wondered who would find my body. I think this will fade, because even now I don’t think of it as a malicious creature, just one that means business. But a healthy dose of fear is probably, in this case, not a bad thing. I’m determined to keep all my fingers, so I will continue to respect its authority.

Thanks Emily!

Emily from Blue Barnhouse came over to help me put the flywheel and ink disk back on after the move. She recently bought a press as well, and since I stalked her blog, I’ll share it here.

Now its just missing the wooden countertop and foot treadle.

It’s a Girl!

I’ve never given birth to a human baby, but my guess is its not much more difficult or stressful than moving a letterpress. Both situations require a full day of labor, some sweat, some choice words, and a lot of anxiety about everyone being intact and alive at the end of the day. But when it’s over, you have something beautiful that holds so much potential, and might even make you some money someday.

While the original plan was to hire a professional machinery mover, the quotes we got were significantly higher than the price of the press itself, and thus out of the question. People do this on their own, and we felt with enough planning and research we could pull it off. My dad, Bruce, my husband, Alex, and I spent 17 hours moving my baby girl (1600 lbs. 4 oz.) from a storage space in Winston Salem to my parent’s garage/Alex’s pottery studio in Asheville. We were very nervous. But by the time the move day finally rolled around, we had gathered snippets of information from internet forums, from Brandon Mise (owner of Blue Barnhouse, where I spent last year apprenticing), and came up with a few ideas of our own. We pieced these bits of information together to form a solid plan. Brandon lent us all the tools he had that we would need to make the move, and put our minds at ease about the process. By the time we left Asheville that morning, we were as prepared as 3 people who have no idea what they’re doing could have possibly been.

Our motto for the move.

We used car jacks to lift the 10×15 C&P new series press up slowly, adding small scraps of wood in the front, letting it down, then doing the same thing on the back of the press. It always had 3 points of contact on the ground.

We built the scraps up to where we could slide the skids underneath on the front, then repeated the process on the back. The car jacks worked so well, and from opening the storage unit to having it totally prepped to move took about 30 minutes. We then jacked up the press, now mounted on the wood planks, until we could slide poles underneath. From there it was just rolling and maneuvering up the ramp and onto the trailer. We rigged a come-along on the back bar of the trailer to support and pull the press along.

We stopped every 20 minutes or so to tighten the wenches and make sure nothing was shifting during the drive. I had been worried about climbing Old Fort mountain with this beast on board, but by the time we got there we had driven enough to feel confident it would be solid throughout the rest of the trip. We wouldn’t have made it without Alex’s amazing driving and maneuvering of this huge truck/trailer combo.

We thought we would just do everything in reverse to unload it. The only difference was, the come-along we used to haul and support the press on the way into the trailer only goes one way, and cannot be used to slowly let the press off of the trailer. Fortunately my dad is an avid outdoorsmen, and like any good boy scout, always comes prepared. We rigged the press to some of his climbing equipment and I belayed the press down the ramp as my dad and Alex supported it. This was only done as extra support so that gravity would not take hold of the press.

Now here it sits. I am forever tethered to this hunk of metal. Where I go, it goes. Though, after that first move, let’s hope we don’t go anywhere for a while.

Its been around since 1918. I’m so happy I can be part of its history, and it a part of mine.

Now this big baby needs a name.