The Mill-Print-Challenge at The Fork and Broom Press 25-28 August

There is a new member of staff at The Fork and Broom Press that needs to be given a proper welcome: a 70 year old printing press built at famous Simmel factory in Pforzheim, where all the KORREX proof presses were produced. It was sitting in the former printroom at a school in the town I used to live as a youngster. It came quite as a surprise when I got a call saying there was a press that needed to be relocated. The room it was in was going to be used for some other purpose. The old press, some type cases, and other tools that used to be part of the school‘s printroom needed to go – preferably not to the wreckers. So I ended up behind the steering wheel of a proper rent-me-IVECOdaily shipping a full load of old heavy printing and bookbinding gear some 600 kilometres from south to north. This was in mid May, and despite this humble me having this special feeling of perhaps gradually growing too old for this kind of thrilling adventure, we arrived safe and sound at Oppenwehe.

Printing press, Simmel 1952

The printing press is a very early proof press, with all the basic functionality, but no extras. It doesn‘t even come with rollers for inking. Inking will have to be done by hand – something I have started with in 1998 when I bought my first press – a KORREX Hannover – whose rollers were not fit for work. Lacking the funds, I had to wait until 2006 for having them fixed at Simmel factory in Pforzheim, so I gained a lot of practice in inking blocks and even metal type with handrollers.

Max Simmel factory in Pforzheim, 2006

Now, this printing press we picked up in May was built in 1952 and is exactly 70 years old this year. It had been sitting at that school in temporary retirement for a number of years. Once at our place we cleaned it and re-adjusted what needed re-adjustment. It has a new tympan fitted to the cylinder now and thus is back in proper working order as a simple but effective proof press. It found its new home in our barn and is prepared to give proof that it is still fit for work during the Wayzgoose and exhibition we‘ll have from 25 to 28 August.

The barn next to the studio in 2019, ready for readings

And this is the Fork and Broom Mill-Print-Challenge: 

In the old days of relief printing black was the only ink there was and all colour had to be added by hand and brush or pencil after the ink on the print had dried. Colouring could be done with Indian ink, watercolour, pastels, pencils whatever felt fit or appropriate.

Linoprint in black, coloured by hand with watercolours
(Artist’s book “Die Schöne Lau”, 2009)

At the centre of the Wayzgoose and exhibition is the new series of mill prints, colour linocuts showing mills of the region. One of the blocks of these mills will be mounted in the press to be printed in black.

Visitors who want to take part in the challenge will ink and pull their own print on the 70-year old press, take their print home, and colour it by hand once the ink has dried (drying can take from a couple of hours to around one day, depending on the amount of ink on the paper and the temperature). This can be a one-person work or a collaboration of a group. 

Printing press, Simmel 1952

Participants then will take a photo of the finished work and send this photo including the name or names of the person/s involved in creating the work to the special email address put up at my domain for the purpose of this challenge. The email address will be handed out to every participant after printing.

There are three stages for the challenge:
stage 1: 52 individual works – for the press‘s year of being built, i. e. 1952
stage 2: 70 individual works – for the press‘s age, i. e. 70 years
stage 3: anything beyond 70
If more than 70 varieties come in, they will be happily welcomed and included in the post with all the others – honoring our old lady.

Printing press, Simmel 1952

There will be a special post on the studio‘s webspace in the category „Printmaker‘s Day“ with all the photos giving the name/s of the copyright ownwer/s. With sending the photo and name/s the sender agrees to having their photo published. Photos will be added in the order they come in.

Everybody taking part will then be notified once their photo is added.