delicate petals within pasta
On May 8, 1999, at the San Francisco Center for the Book, I had my first experience with letterpress printing. I learned about the California job case, how to set type and prepare the pres...
delicate petals within pasta
On May 8, 1999, at the San Francisco Center for the Book, I had my first experience with letterpress printing. I learned about the California job case, how to set type and prepare the press, and together with the other class participants, printed a chapbook under the imprint of the "created for the day" Tiramisu Press.
In the years that followed, I took a few other printing classes in the same location, and every time I was reminded how much I like the blend of boundless creativity and tight concentration that goes into printing. Mary Dern's short piece titled Printing, therefore, resonated with me. As it is only one page long, I invite you to go to the Star 82 Review website and read it all.
One of the fascinating things about not just printing but any form of arts is the special language each uses, a combination of unusual words (quoins anyone?) and common words given a special meaning (furniture).
If you are not familiar with letterpress printing, I won't have you wondering: A quoin is "a wedge or expanding mechanical device used for locking a letterpress form into a chase" and furniture describes "pieces of wood or metal placed around or between metal type to make blank spaces and fasten the matter in the chase." The chase is "a metal frame for holding the composed type and blocks being printed at one time" (Oxford Dictionaries).
In her piece, Dern remains very close to the senses, as she describes the handling of type to compose words, inking the press, the various sounds the latter does when it is set into motion:
I ink the press. The ink in the can shines succulently; it is delicious,
shining black. I spread some on the plate with my palette knife.
The press runs, hums, a small ching of metal. The rollers move
up and back and down and up and down, spreading the ink in a glistening
The end result of the process, a printed poem, feels almost edible:
The chase is locked in, the press starts up, the rollers ink the type. I
feed the paper onto the platen, press the lever. The kiss. The poem.
As soon as my eyes reached the final word, I started thinking about sheets and ink and printing. For the nth time I wished I could get my hands on some cuttlefish (seppie), whose black ink (nero di seppia) would have been a nice echo to the "succulent" printing ink. Alas!, no such luck and even finding unclean squid (i.e., squid with still the ink sac) is so complicated, I stopped trying some time ago. I have already made pink pasta and green pasta, so something different was called for.
When I looked at my hand-cranked pasta machine, I realized that it resembles a printing press, though it does not click to signal the end of the run for its rollers. I was reminded of a class on relief and pressure printing I took some years ago and thought this would be the right time to try to make so-called stained glass pasta, so I geared
brighly colored and edible
I chose petals from nasturtiums, which grow wildly in our garden. Using rose petals is more romantic and aromatic leaves may lend some of their
flavor, but in terms of color, it is hard to beat nasturtium's petals.
A mistake in ordering from King Arthur Flour means I am now the happy
owner of a bunch of pastry blend, but an unhappy not-owner of pasta
blend (note to self: check the order receipt carefully next time). Had I had the pasta blend, I would have used my normal egg pasta recipe, but since I didn't, I made up a blend with semolina flour and all-purpose flour, but I'll go back to KAF pasta blend as soon as possible. I have also made a batch of pasta using only egg white (albume) rather than whole egg: this makes a dough of a lighter color.