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Saturday, 15 September 2012

Greenscene at Newhailes


Greenscene is a conservation based workshop for primary schools - an annual event run by the Ranger at Newhailes. We gave it a miss last year but on Wednesday Rachel and I where there again with a paper-making workshop. Rachel of course did all the work my major contribution was as driver.  Two groups from P7 at Roseburn School and a P5/6 group from Musselburgh had great fun with water and pulp making sheets of paper and of course a mess. I'm not certain which provided the most enjoyment.

We were based in the Education Room which is located in the old stable block.  The stone masons from Culzean were based in the courtyard itself. Lunch in the sunshine was an ideal opportunity to compare notes with staff from another property. We also had a visit from someone from Castle Fraser who was looking for ideas for a similar event there.  A trip to Aberdeenshire next june is an enticing prospect.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Smail's at the Flower Festival

There's a flower festival at Innerleithen Parish Church this weekend. With the theme of Innerleithen. Walkerburn and Traquair Parish Past and Present, Smail's had to figure somewhere. With accessories provided by the Printing Works Carol Rudram has produced this display to celebrate the contribution that Smail's has made to the local community since 1866. The Festival runs until Sunday and entry is by donation to the Church Building Fund.

Meanwhile Rachel has headed off to Halyrude School to introduce the pupils to letterpress printing as our contribution to the Peebles Art Festival.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Printing Links

I've just added a new page - Printing Links - with, believe it or not, links to other letterpress printers and museums with printing exhibits. If you know of others please contact us.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Pike St Press, Seattle

I'm just back from holiday and once again I came upon a small letterpress printers, this time in Seattle.  It is called the Pike Street Press – I seem to find these little letterpress operations where ever I go. This one was quite new and provides a mix of letterpress and screen printing. Pike Street Press didn't have any type setting capability although when I spoke to the printer he did say that he'd like to be able to do so.  Unfortunately of course providing that sort of service requires access to a wide range of type faces in different sizes, weights and styles - a significant capital outlay.

The letter-press workhorse at Pike Street Press was one of the ubiquitous Original Heidelberg presses. It's a testament to sound design, robust construction and the shear number made that so many of these presses are still in daily use. There was also a Peerless Clamshell platen- equivalent of Smail's Arab -    which had originally been treadle driven.  The treadle had been removed and the press converted to electric power.   Sean Brown the printer did say that he hoped to get it working again although I'm not sure about a powered press where the paper is inserted and removed by hand.


Like Smail's Pike Street Press had a range of cards and other printed material for sale.  Two of their postcards are shown here and I sent a third one to Smail's whilst on holiday.  That one seemed to be a mix of letterpress and screen printing with a screen print of the Seattle skyline overprinted with Seattle.  Typical of modern letterpress all the printing was embossed producing a very tactile result. They were of course delighted to undertake bespoke work and had produced a rather nice tri-fold map of Pike Place Market.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

St Ronan's Calendar 2013

Robert Smail's Printing Works released the latest incarnation of that traditional marketing tool - their calendar.  For something over 130 years Smail's has produced a calendar which was originally sent free of charge to existing and potential customers.  As a showcase for what the business was capable of it was always an elaborate affair.  Originally an entirely letterpress effort it became much more ornate when Smail's had the capacity to produce litho prints.  The 2013 Calender is based on the one produced for 1913 which had an ornate litho frame incorporating St Ronan cleiking the De'il with letter press dates, postage rates etc.


St Ronan's Calender for 2013 went on sale yesterday and costs £2.75.  It can be bought in the shop during normal opening  hours or by mail order - email smails@nts.org.uk for more information.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Future Events

The more observant among you will have noticed a new page in the list on the right hand side of the screen.  Called Forthcoming Events this will give brief details of forthcoming events at Smail's.  To learn more contact the Printing Works via the email address on the page.