Wednesday, February 6, 2013

for the love of the printed word

so, there we were, reading about johannes gutenberg in SOTW, and diana took off in directions i did not expect.

she decided to create her own printing press, based loosely on a kind of catapult design.  it got as far as several sketches from multiple perspectives.  when we discussed the potential cost of obtaining a sufficient number of rubber stamp letters to compose a simple page of text, she opted to forgo the actual construction.

a well-timed yet coincidental twitter tidbit from brain pickings yielded links to a fascinating BBC documentary about gutenberg called "the machine that made us."  (i also happen to love stephen fry from his jeeves and wooster era, so this was a must for me; i was pleased to see diana so engaged in it, too.)

note: the video above is just a preview.  the entire hour-long documentary is available for viewing via veoh.

the documentary took us on a spectacular and amazing journey, addressing all aspects of the printing process, including the making of linen paper (although vellum was preferred at the time, it was an incredibly costly material).  so, of course, we had to try our hand at making paper.

i just so happened to have an usborne kit from years ago with the most important equipment (readers may appreciate checking out this site for complete explanations and descriptions of this diy process).

not bad for the first run - made with pink paper (and little bits of stray green paper)
we're looking forward to making more paper with different materials and in different colors.  i think adding berries to the paper pulp could result in something astounding.

and what better use is there for paper than a book?


  1. that is SUPER COOL!!! i wonder if you could make a mini press to just print one word at a time.

  2. Very cool! Looking forward to seeing the handmade books from handmade paper. :)