Pat’s post about Hypatia’s 2nd broadside reminded me that I’d written about the first back in March, back before the new web was live. This is old news by now — we’ve sent out many of the first printing as membership premiums and, as Pat wrote, are well started on the second, but the beginning, the first turn of the press, was so much fun, I just have to share this.
March 11, 2012: The press clacked and sighed as Pat turned the handle, then was quiet while I picked each newly printed broadside from the cylinder. Crisp letters on fine, muted papers. Four of us were printing broadsides, the poem “Swallowing the World” by local poet Don Freas. Probably a hundred repetitions for the seventy-four good copies printed. The others were proofs: determining placement on the page, realigning the plate after we cleaned the bed, checking the inking.
“墨流し suminagashi, which means ‘floating ink’ in Japanese is the oldest method of decorative paper made with floating colors that is known today. Author Einen Miura states that the oldest reference to suminagashi papers are in the waka poems of Shigeharu, (825-880 CE), a son of the famed Heian era poet Narihira. Various claims have been made regarding the origins of suminagashi. Some think that it may have originally come from China. Others have proposed that it may have derived from an early form of ink divination. Another theory is that the process may have derived from a form of popular entertainment at the time, in which a freshly painted sumi painting was immersed into water, and the ink slowly dispersed from the paper and rose to the surface, forming curious designs. (more…)