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Andrew's Printing Shed

Amazing things are created in garden sheds. Andrew Judd’s shed is no exception. Infused with the smell of printing ink, it hosts a myriad of presses, drawers filled with metal typeset moulds, test pages of text and linocut prints, canisters of ink and ingots of alloy from which typesets are cast.

Standing in pride of place are two giant machines. The first is a printing press given to Andrew in 2009. ‘I was offered it by a couple from Shropshire’ he says, ‘along with the Ludlow Typograph Machine’.

The Ludlow Typograph uses a molton alloy to cast lines of text which are then used to print the final page. ‘I didn’t know anything about using it’ says Andrew, ‘but fortunately I found a man living in Hertfordshire who had worked for the company that made these.’

Technology like this was the mainstay of printing for almost two centuries until modern, digital techniques came into use in more recent times. This kind of printing is a skill kept alive by a handful of people like Andrew, who publish small numbers of books which are then sold locally or at specialist book fairs around the country.

While we chat, the Typograph machine is whirring into action. After an alloy of tin, lead and antimony is heated in a crucible, the lid is closed and a form holding the letter moulds slides into place. After some heavy clunks, a line of words cast into a metal block falls into a tray, ready for use. The process takes only a matter of seconds.

These blocks of text are locked into a chase (a frame) and mounted into the press which whirrs into action. A series of rollers supply ink to the plate before it is firmly pressed onto a sheet of paper. A book is slowly taking shape!

Although this demonstration has taken only a few minutes, printing an entire book can a long time to complete. ‘This book’ says Andrew, picking up a copy, ‘took four weeks to print.’ Carefully printed and bound, it’s a short collection of poems by Edward Thomas who wrote them while serving in the First World War. He saw them published under the pseudonym Edward Eastaway shortly before he was killed in the war, but only a hundred copies were ever produced. To mark the centenary of his death, Andrew has decided to print another 150 copies of ‘Six Poems by Edward Eastaway’.

The print run is complete and the books are on sale at £10 per copy (plus £2 p&p). If you would like a copy, you can email andrewjudd59@aol.com

Interested in learning more about printing?

The Friday Printmakers is a group which meets weekly during school term time at St Peter’s Church on Cowleigh Bank in North Malvern. The group has just received a new press, housed at the church, and has several presses which can be used for a variety of printing methods including etching, silk screen and linocut. The sessions on Friday have recently been lengthened from a half to a whole day. For more details, email Andrew at the email address above or call (01684) 893858.