Server migration and resultant outages

We’re in the process of moving our web site and e-mail to a new hosting service in the cloud. They are currently hosted at my day job and I’m used to managing them with command-line tools and direct editing of configuration files, so it is taking me a while to get used to the graphical interfaces that must be used for some things with the new server.

Between that, me making mistakes, and the caching of old or mistaken information that happens throughout the internet, you may experience some outages where you can’t access our web site and/or send us e-mail. We hope to keep these outages to a minimum, especially with e-mail.

Hopefully things will settle down in a week or two. If you’ve e-mailed us and have not received any reply after a day or two, or you get an error e-mailing us and it persists for a day or two, it might be a good idea to call us, because we may not be aware of the problem!

Monotype Computer Control: Diagnosing Air Flow Problems 2

After about a year and a half of ignoring the project, I’m starting again to work on my computer-driven interface for the Monotype Composition Caster. When I left off I was diagnosing problems with the ports having inconsistent air flow from one port to the next. This is the sort of problem that can’t be cured by tweaking the air pressure: If the pressure is high enough for the low-flow ports to work properly, the high-flow ports leak enough air to adjacent ports that they raise more than one air pin in the caster. This crosstalk is inherent in the caster design, and I really can’t do anything to fix it.

My last post on this topic described how I cobbled together a device to measure the flow in the air line that supplies the interface. By leaving the interface off the caster so its outputs go to free air, I can energize the ports one at a time and measure the air flow of each one. Removing parts of the interface itself and repeating these measurements allow me to pinpoint the source of some of the flow restrictions.

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Price Increases on Abaca Pulp, New Kenaf Pulp

We have recently restocked our bleached and unbleached abaca pulp supplies, and unfortunately due to supply cost increases we are forced to raise the price we sell these pulps for.

However, we now also sell kenaf pulp in sheet form. This plant (Hibiscus cannabinus) in the mallow family is grown for its fibrous stems. Note that this plant family also includes okra and tororo aoi. The outer bast fibres are the best for strong paper, but this pulp is produced from the entire plant stem and so includes the shorter fibres from the core of the stem as well. It has a beige colour similar to some darker grades of unbleached abaca.

Here are the updated and new prices:

Unbleached Abaca $27.00/kg
Bleached Abaca $28.50/kg
Kenaf $28.50/kg

The usual quantity discounts continue to apply to these pulps.

Typewriters at the Bound Book Arts Fair

20181209_14541520181209_145225Last Sunday we had a sale table at the 2018 BOUND Book Arts Fair, and in addition to all the vendors there Martin Howard, a collector of antique typewriters, had some of his collection on display. Martin has a web site showing his collection, and he was featured in the recent documentary film California Typewriter.

Someone had asked me about casting some number signs so they could put hashtags in their letterpress work. I had mentioned this to another vendor at the fair (I think it was Nick Kennedy from Trip Print Press), and we mused on why this particular letter might have been chosen for its use in social media. It really has no mnemonic value, unlike @ which can be sensibly read as “at” within an e-mail address. I pointed out, essentially, that it was chosen “because it was there” on the computer keyboard, where its presence originates in older machinery like Teletypes and modern (so to speak) typewriters. We were curious about what special characters older typewriters might have had, and conveniently enough, we had a small selection to examine.

Some of Martin’s typewriters on display had @ and/or # on them, but when we came to look at this typewriter we noticed something interesting that even Martin had not noticed before. Read more ›

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BOUND Book Arts Fair next weekend in Toronto!

bound-2018_page_1How time flies, 2018 is almost over! Next Sunday, December 9th 2018, we’ll be at the BOUND Book Arts Fair, held at the Arts & Letters Club, 14 Elm Street in downtown Toronto. That’s just two short blocks north of the intersection of Yonge & Dundas, so if you’re taking the TTC subway, you want the Dundas station on line 1.

It looks like there will be almost 40 vendors there, selling prints, cards, handmade books, printed ephemera, and other things print-related. Space is tight for vendors and we’ll be focusing on our handmade and marbled papers, although we might have other things (such as bookbinding materials) not immediately on display, so when you see us, ask for what you’re looking for!

The show runs from 11am to 5pm, and admission is free.

New Drying System Size

Almost 30 years ago, when our drying system was first designed, the pulp we were getting from the pulp mills was in sheets around 27×36″ and the drying system was made to these dimensions so the pulp sheets could be used as blotters.

Each pulp mill seems to have its own size of pulp sheet and the mill that produced the 27×36″ sheets no longer processes cotton linters. We haven’t been able to purchase this size of pulp sheets for several years now, and we are getting close to running out of the 2nd cut cotton linters of this size, even though we have been reserving them for use in drying systems only.

As of this writing we have about 30 cardboard sheets (plus about 20 with slight edge damage), and perhaps 120 sheets of linters in this size.

As a result, the time has come to change the size of our drying system to match the new pulp sheet size (and hope this doesn’t change again soon), which is about 30″ wide and 31″ long.

This is unfortunately too wide to fit existing drying boxes people may have made to use with the old size.

Other alternatives would be to go with 27×31″, which is the same width as the old system so there would be some degree of backwards compatibility, but this would mean we would have to cut 3″ off the width of all the pulp sheets we sell for drying systems. This would be time-consuming for us, and could potentially leave us with a glut of 2nd cut cotton linters pulp in the form of strips that won’t work for the drying system.

So our choice of new drying system size is a little up in the air, even more so after the thought I put into writing this post…

Kitchener DIY Festival, October 19th, 2018

diyThis is a really last-minute notice, but tomorrow, Saturday October 18th 2018, the Kitchener Public Library will be hosting their fourth annual DIY Festival. This will take place from 1pm to 4pm at the main downtown branch, 85 Queen Street North in Kitchener. Admission is free.

We’ll be demonstrating hand papermaking, so come by, make a sheet, and take home a sheet made by someone earlier in the day.

Yes! Another Press!

We recently acquired a Vandercook 320 in somewhat rough shape.


Serial number 6679. This says it is a "Number 320" although all the literature seems to refer to a "320G"

Serial number 6679. This says it is a “Number 320” although all the literature seems to refer to a “320G”

I plan on fixing it up and we will probably sell it because it is bigger than what we need (we think). Alternatively we might sell our Challenge MA-15 instead.

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BOUND Book Arts Fair, December 9th in Toronto

The BOUND Book Arts Fair will celebrate its first anniversary on Sunday, December 9th 2018 from 11am to 5pm, at the Arts & Letters Club, 14 Elm Street (near Yonge & Dundas) in Toronto. The fair will be bigger than the inaugural one last year because there will be a second room available at the Club, providing space for 26 vendors in all.

We’ll have a table at this fair, selling handmade paper, marbling, and a small selection of bookbinding supplies.

Howard Iron Works Print Expo & Fair

Last Saturday was the inaugural Howard Iron Works Print Expo & Fair, where we had a table selling our paper and second-hand books on topics relating to the book arts. The show was hosted by Howard Iron Works, a restorer and museum of old printing equipment affiliated with Howard Graphics.

The tables for the fair were set up in the workshop, which had just undergone two days of cleaning and was spotless. I guess we aren’t the only people who are motivated to clean by the threat of company coming!

Setup time in the workshop before the fair. Our table is the first on the right, just behind the green lathe. Photo by Liana Howard.

Setup time in the workshop before the fair. Our table is the first on the right, just behind the green lathe. Photo by Liana Howard.

Audrey minding our table and her mug of tea

Audrey minding our table and her mug of tea

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