The Studio in 2000

A printing office in the region of Allgäu near the German parts of the Alps needs to get rid of part of its letterpress equipment including metal type. The town is just a one and a half hour’s car drive away from where the studio is. I spend one day sorting the metal type from various cabinets into the ones I intend to pick up at a later date. Infact, there are three cabinets in a row, called an alleyway.

It really does not look like I can squeeze them all in, but after taking some measurements and with more reshuffling, I can see it will work.

A compositor’s alleyway: two cabinets for storing metal type, four sliding tables on top and one rotating stool in the middle

What is an alleyway? Type cabinets traditionally are arranged side by side in long rows. Just like in an historic town, where halftimber houses in long rows face each other, type cabinets will face each other in a compositor‘s alleyway. Distances walked during work are meant to be kept short.
The alleyway I am about to pick up is made up of three cabinets, a long workplate covering all three and four sliding tables to go on top. The whole furniture is special in that the middle cabinet comes with a rotating stool. Early one Saturday morning we set off in two vans with four people in total to dismount the alleyway which is in an unusual light shade of rusty red. There is not much time, but we succeed in loading all the parts and type cases securely into the two vans. We stop at an Italian restaurant and after a lovely lunch head back to the studio.

The first book fair I exhibit at is 3rd Bookmakers‘ Fair in Mosbach, not far from Heidelberg, held by Druckwerkstatt Mosbach every other year. Karl Kretschmer, a professional printer himself, is one of the organizers.

This is a year of many firsts, so to speak. The first colour woodcut, from two blocks, shows our dog Tita sleeping, the next wood cut is of a red rose printed from three blocks. I print my first broadsides.
I also attend two more professional courses at Buchbinder-Colleg in Stuttgart, one on making a very special sort of decorated papers, and one about how inks were made in the Middle Ages. These two courses will come in very handy many times in the following years.

Handmade decorated paper

And there is another first: a commission. I am asked to produce letterpress invitation cards in an edition that is too high for my manual printing press. This results in me meeting Heiner Buser, who runs Greno Printing Office in Nördlingen. I handset the text for the cards, tie it up properly, put it on a galley ( this compositor‘s tool is sometimes affectionately referred to as a „baking tin“), and drive all the way to Nördlingen. The edition will be printed on Heiner‘s Heidelberg Windmill platen press. My husband and I shall meet Heiner more often over the coming years: he offers that we can cast our own metal type on his Monotype machines. This will keep us busy for three years.

Humble me at Heiner Buser’s Heidelberg Windmill platen press

Briefly noted:

An Adana 8×5 becomes a member of the team

Works published in 2000

„Tita sleeping“, woodcut, 2 blocks

„Lady of Whitby“, woodcut, 3 blocks

Psalm 121, letterpress, broadside,woodcut

„Ein Jegliches hat seine Zeit“ broadside, letterpress


Druckwerkstatt Mosbach 

Buchmachermarkt Mosbach

To be continued on 24 March 2024


  1. Another lovely blog posting. With the addition of the excellent photos, these make the text really come alive. Yeayy!! and Yippee!!

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