What was in the pot at the end of this rainbow?

Today….I FINISHED THE TUSSER BOOKLET!!!

Looking back through old posts, I see that it was in November 2016 that I excitedly wrote about the project that I had in mind for the coming year. The predicted teeth gnashing certainly came to pass, but what was the end result? Was it worth the slog?

I have to admit that there is no Insta-worthy picture of my work on this booklet for everyone to call amaaazing. Indeed I feel that the products of these particular labours are children that only a mother could love. In some ways I kept going even when it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong, because I just wanted to see it through to the end. And I did!

Not much of a sales pitch there, but none the less here are the pictures of the latter stages of the project. My last post about the Tusser book was when I discovered that I’d messed up the imposition on the first page. I printed a second lot and did no more until I’d completed the playing card project in June this year.

I built the second page and printed it. Not having proper registration marks on the first page meant that I had to drop the paper directly onto the forme and extremely carefully.

Next came cutting and trimming the leaves so that the illustrations sat next to each other properly on the opposing pages.

I then decided to hand colour the pictures. Not a complicated scheme; the Spring months of March, April, May were green; June, July and August were yellow; September, October and November were orange; January and February were wintry blue and the final December picture of the Christ Child was given a bit more of a show with gold halo, purple backdrop, greenish manger straw and skin tone which varied on different copies.

This added a lot of work but I thought it improved the look of the book. Once these were all dry, and the sheets had been pressed flat overnight, I could collate the leaves and create the booklet.

Picking up my book about bookbinding I then discovered there would be a short intermission as … in order to make the booklet I needed a pricking cradle…and in order to make the pricking cradle I needed to make bookcloth…and in order to make the bookcloth I needed to make paste.

The pricking cradle is to hold the booklet steady so that you can pierce the paper with a needle in the right places and it was worth the trouble of doing it. In fact I was fairly happy with the book-making part of the project, I was just sorry that frankly the standard of my printing was not really good enough.

Still, I sewed up the booklet with a simple stitch. The very final step was adding a label to the cover: a happy thought, I recycled some of the titles that I’d printed from the first, botched imposition, using a die cutter to make little labels. I may also save some of the pictures that I printed – even where the sheet has a whole has not worked, the pieces of it could be used in cards or free-standing pictures.

I have got some improvements to make to the press now. We’ve shaved a little bit off the platen as we realised it had become a little bit warped, and re-strung it where it hangs from the garter. We will add some corner irons – we “never got a round tuit” when the press was first made, but now the importance of being able to lock the chase into the press bed is very clear. I don’t think I will attempt such a complicated project at an event again, but I hope that the lessons learned from this journey may ultimately improve the quality of my printing.

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