From the grandfathers of print to shiny new things

Author: Adam Bicknell
Published: 17th October 2016

Being a seasoned lover of print, print processes and the smell of fresh ink on paper, I looked forward to taking some time out to visit the Print Show at the NEC to see what’s happening in the offline world.

I admit I had slight reservations that I would be awash in a sea of print reps trying to sell me the latest digi printers; but no, I found it mostly suit free, brimming with print goodies and thoroughly inspiring for my team and I.

We wandered around this sweet-shop of print, feasting on new digi print stocks that can be printed on Epsom Inkjets, large format printers capable of producing vibrant fluorescent colours, print finishing machines that could give the foil blocking process a run for its money and OKI laser printers that print white and clear ink.

We admired the new desktop 3D printers from in action, which were something else: great for product designers creating high resolution prototypes from home, but still amazing to see how the desktop printers are pushing the boundaries of design.

But, the best bit of all - for me at least - was hiding near the back of the show under the Print Masterclass area: a real step back in time! Once hard-working presses, these grandfathers of print were being displayed like works of art for visitors to try out and see the results.

The first, a Colombian press from 1860 invented by George W. Clymer, was printing a poster. The second was a Clyde press from the 1920s; still in full working order and lovingly restored by Ken Burnley from Silver Birch Press. He gave us a quick masterclass in printing on this beauty, while chatting about kerning, leading and the beauty of letterpress. He also indulged my love for typography by showing me the kerning on some lead letters. That man has some knowledge.

All in all, a great morning to get the creative inkyness flowing.

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