The Studio in 2016

On the first Sunday of the year we make our way through the snow and sleet on icy roads to a village some 120 kilometres away. An old farm is for sale in Oppenwehe and we decide to have a first look from outside. A few days later we have an appointment for a proper visit and then things increase in momentum. In April we call this old farm our new home. It is an old red brick farm built in 1893. A barn, a cattle stable, a pig stable and half a hectar of meadow. Locally it is known as „Priess-Hof“.

The sun setting behind our meadow in May

In early March I am off again down south for another working visit, this time it will be for full three weeks. The plan is to print a Shakespeare sonnet for a project hosted by the Bodleien Library in Oxford (UK), to celebrate the bard‘s 400th birthday. Work goes smoothly and the print runs work out well, so I can create two versions of the sonnet. I also print a handout for TurnThePage artist‘s book fair in Norwich, to be held later in the year.

Working on Shakespeare’s sonnet 89

In late April I move into our new home, inhabiting virtually one room. In the other rooms a professional painter will replace the rather old-fashioned wallpaper with a plain woodchip version and paint it off-white. In late May, after just 13 months, we can reclaim our stored container from the haulers and have our belongings back. We are aware that the attic is stuffed with old straw for insulation, which has to go, and apart from a dried cadaver of a marten we find a brandnew wheel barrow, a bucket full of black buttons, a double door and piles of left-over ceramic wall tiles.

Trailer for loading the old straw down from the attic

In June work starts to transform what was once a cattle stable into the printroom. The whole relocation process seems to become a challenge of shifting stuff around in the right way. To start with, 12 tonnes of old furniture in the style „rustic oak“ left by the former owners has to go. This space is needed for the bindery and for the huge shelves full with packs of paper. At the old place the bindery and paper storage has to go first, otherwise we will not be able to move out the type cabinets and presses, because, after having reshuffled equipment so often, the old place is densly packed. In early August we pick up the first load of bindery equipment with a rented lorry. In late August we pick up a second load. Thankfully our friend Denny comes to give us a hand with the heavy lifting and loading. And for unloading the neighbours in Oppenwehe rally to our help in turn between managing their cattle.

In early September the red brick floor in the cattle stable has been removed. The bricks will be used for building a raised bed for herbs.

Raised bed from the old red bricks in the making, first sunflowers

By mid September, the openings for the new long windows are made in the former stable. Swallows and house martins race in and out through the new openings catching flies. Any time soon these lovely birds will leave for their annual migration.

When we can spare some time, we are still working to remove the old straw from the attic and the barn. With the third load in a rented lorry, a first quota of type cases and potted plants arrives. It is now late September. While Guenter returns the rented lorry, workmen start pumping in the concrete that will make the floor in what used to be a stable and will become the printroom.

Now things become quite challenging. In mid October I travel to the old studio near Stuttgart to pack up the printing gear. The hauling company will drop 40 standard palettes at the studio on Monday. The haulers will be back Tuesday the following week for loading. That gives me one week to have each of the 30-plus cabinets ready for transport.

Each type cabinet needs to go on one standard palette

Securing them will be done by the professionals. On Sunday Ivonne comes for a day at the studio with lunch and cake, giving me a hand with the workplates, that are just too long to handle alone. As planned the lorry is loaded on Tuesday with a forklift putting most of the cabinets and presses onto the articulated lorry. The rest, plus the forklift truck travel on a smaller lorry. I drive back north on the Wednesday and we all meet up again on Thursday for the big unload.

Type cabinets having just been taken off the articulated lorry – it starts drizzling

The cabinets need to go into the barn temporarily until the printroom is ready for equipment to go in. By end of October we can finally clear the rooms where studio bleiklötzle has been working for the past 12 years. One last trip with the rented van and the old studio becomes a thing of the past.

The KORREX and Grafix proof presses and a workbench just unloaded

On the last days of October the new windows are built into the future printroom. In early November, the flocks of cranes arrive in Oppenwehe on their annual migration. And after the concrete floor in the printroom has solidified, it is time to plaster the walls.

A first garden plan is designed, unaware of the fact that an armada of cockchafer grubs, a resident tribe of root voles, drought and gale force winds will insist on having their say too – for years to come. Hares nibble the newly planted fruit trees. I bake my first batches of biscuits. The first winter will come soon. And the type cabinets are still sitting in the barn.

Our meadow in winter, this is early January 2017

Briefly noted:

Exhibiting at 11th Norddeutschen Handpressenmesse in Hamburg – Heinz-Stefan Bartkowiak, one of the founders of the fair, has died only weeks before the fair was to open.

Membership with the Oxford Guild of Printers (OGP)

On the day of the Brexit-Referendum we arrive at Harwich for exhibiting at the juried artist‘s book fair TurnThePage in Norwich, this year I‘m a BookPrizeNominee

Published in 2016:

Sonnet 89“ by William Shakespeare in 2 versions as contribution for the project of the Bodleian Library, Oxford (UK)

Collaboration: The 154 sonnets by William Shakespeare

The Bodleian Library in Oxford (UK) calls for printmaking artists worldwide to print one of the Shakesperean sonnets in a contemporary version. For Shakespeare‘s 400th birthday all sonnets are to be printed afresh. My dear colleague Miles Wigfield shared this information with me and I was allocated sonnet No. 89. In the end I print two versions, a classic one using Baskerville, and an experimental one combining a lino etching with Futura.


Oxford Guild of Printers (OGP)

Norddeutsche Handpressenmesse, now „BuchDruckKunst – Erlesenes auf Papier“ in Hamburg

Bodleian Library

The Countryside

Der Mühlenkreis


Naturpark Dümmer


Teutoburger Wald


To be continued on 26 May 2024


  1. Hello Annette. Goodness me, the Big Move Up North. I was so concerned for you that everything would go well and according to plan and that it would not be too stressful.

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