The poem ‘Christmas’ by Paul Deaton sparked excitement in a recent conversation with Mental Health Law Specialist, Neil Confrey. Neil commissioned me to make a piece of work for a Christmas card which Confreys Solicitors send to their clients every year. We discussed the idea of letterpress printed cards using my Adana 8 x 5. Neil wanted to introduce a poem to be printed on the inside of this year’s card.
A Watchful Astronomy
My friend and poet, Paul Deaton, of The Spoke poetry collective in Bristol came to mind while independent literary publisher, Seren Books had also recommended The Spoke poets to Neil. The planets were lining up. Paul was on board and together we decided that the poem ‘Christmas’ from Pauls’ poetry collection ‘A Watchful Astronomy’ would be perfect for the project.
Typesetting the chill hills
I was excited about incorporating Paul’s poem into the main image for the card rather than separating the image from the poem. Neil came up with the idea of an edition of letterpress prints so now I could imagine the poem in all kinds of ways. It was obvious after our conversation that my Adana 8 x 5 wasn’t going to be the right press for the job. I got in touch with Nick Hand from The Letterpress Collective and booked some dates to typeset and print the edition using their Vandercook press.
Paul was happy for me to fracture his poem for the print. I focused on the three Welsh peaks Cribyn, Pen Y Fan and Corn Du - placing words from the poem to reflect the different heights of the hills and his deep connection with the ever expansive planet. Neil likened the result to Concrete poetry.
Inking Up Welsh Mountains
Visualising Welsh mountains in winter drew me to shades of misty hues of blue green grey. I questioned how well each peak would line up after being through the press three times. Ellen suggested rollering the ink by hand onto the type and then running the un-inked rollers of the Vandercook press over the type. I made a test print in one colour which printed well. I then mixed three colours and hand rollered a different colour for each ‘peak’. The results were good and I was ready to print the edition.
Printing The Chill Hills
Thanks to Nick Hand and Ellen Bills from The Letterpress Collective for the time and space to create this print in their amazing studio and for their helpful suggestions along the way.
An edition of 40 letterpress prints of Three Brecon Peaks will be available early December. I will keep you posted of the launch date which we expect will be taking place in Cardiff.
Three Brecon Peaks
A Letterpress Edition of Prints