Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pictures and More Bits of Progress

I got a couple quick pictures of the new-to-us type cabinet this morning:

The pictures look a little cattywampus because I had to go to the side to get far enough back to fit the whole cabinet in the picture.  

The bottom doors do open, but there's nothing to see there. The decorative pulls look like they could be teh type where one side is actually a key for a latch, but they aren't. If you click to embiggen you may notice a little dark circle at the center bottom. It isn't a keyhole, it's a decorative raised doohicky.

The top is more scratched up than the front, our guess is that a tabletop press sat on it. I'm guessing that the cabinet probably could be touched up or re-finished and the chipped veneer on the feet repaired if we wanted it to look like not-utilitarian furniture, ie: match the pieces of my grandmother's dining room set that I own, but which are stored in Michigan with a relative.
I also took pictures of some of the labels to start trying to figure out what the typefaces are, but I think we can skip those.

We need a bigger house. We've needed a bigger house for a long time. But I don't want to move. Actually, I think I might be able to face the moving process itself, but even the idea of all the money stuff associated with selling this house and buying another one makes me want to curl up under the covers and hide.  Not to mention college tuition, and the truck is going to need to be replaced sooner rather than later (although on the good side, the loan for the truck, my car, and the furnace will be paid off in the next couple-few months. Hopefully the truck will hold out a while after that, please the FSM, knock wood, etc., so we can work on building up a down payment for a replacement). 

Erm, that was a bit of a digression, eh what?

Got the scanned proof images of all the blocks brought into my catalog document in InDesign last night. Ron printed proofs of almost all the blocks we didn't have proofs for yesterday, and is probably scanning them this afternoon. Even if I don't get those into the document, because I need to start making labels for paper samples, and get that organized, we're moving along.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Inching Along On Progress

How am I doing on getting anything done for Military History Fest?

Well, I've given up on anything except for order forms and related things for ordering letterpress business cards, and printing the new business cards.

Let's see how the weekend went:

Friday night

Out to get dinner and buy myself some insulated boots, shoes to leave at work, and shoes for Ron. Useful, but not progress.

Saturday morning

Ran errands, including getting groceries, a refill of the dog's prescription, and shopping for the Capricon Cafe. Meds and food necessary, Capricon shopping important, but not progress.

Saturday afternoon

Scanned metal type proofs, determined pricing structure. Progress!

Saturday evening 

(from about 4:55 on) - Taking Robin to get his knee put back together after he fell and whacked the edge/corner of a cinderblock.  Very necessary, but we'd all, especially Robin, have been happier without the excitement. We didn't get home until about 9:30 pm, so that was it for Saturday.

Sunday morning 

Checking Craig's List, as I do most mornings, and found a cabinet full of metal type in wooden cases (trays) for sale, listed Saturday night. E-mailed to see if it was still available, and if so, when can we come buy it, please? Then out to help Ron clean snow off and out from under the edges of cars in the driveway, as Robin is off shovelling duty for a while.

When I came back in, I had a response. Yes, the cabinet was available, call to make arrangements. Which I did. Ron finished up the last bit of shovelling, then off we went to McHenry, with a stop a Menard's for stretch wrap. From the pictures, I though the type trays were like the ones we have, which are 12-1/2" square. At first the salescritter didn't see the roll of 20" stretch wrap, but he found it. I briefly debated just grabbing a roll of 6" anyway, but decided wider would be easier.  Good thing . . . 

Turns out the cabinet is bigger than we realized. The trays are home-built, closer to 24" square. And some of them are rather heavy. We wrapped them in bundles of 3, and I'm glad I got the wide roll of stretch wrap. The seller, who we've bought two sets of rollers from, also threw in a bigger case of type, and tried to give us some quoins (clamps for locking up in the chase), but I insisted on paying him something. 

Home again, home again, jiggity jog. Ron unloaded the truck while I made lunch. Empty, the cabinet, is not too heavy, so it wasn't a problem for Ron by himself. The cabinet is an RCA Victor TV or radio cabinet, faux mahogany or cherry, I think, which would have matched my grandmother's dining room set. And it doesn't look too bad in our bedroom, because there's no room in the spare bedroom, especially with Robin sleeping in there while he can't use his loft (see above, re: knee). 

So, Sunday afternoon was productive in some ways, but not the progress I was intending.

Sunday afternoon

After lunch Ron headed off to the final Capricon meeting, and I finally worked on the order form! Yay! Progress! I was hoping for a half-page order form, but I realized I was going to need a full page for all the necessary information and room to write it down. 

After I got the draft of the order form done, I went upstairs to unwrap the type cases and put them in the cabinet (so Ron could use his bed!). I was insufferably sensible and took my iPad and keyboard, and updated our list of metal type with the new acquisitions - 18 trays in the cabinet, plus the extra large one that's not much use to us, which held 15 fonts. Several of them are ones we have (and will probably combine), or more sizes, plus a bunch of new stuff. Not necessarily ones I would have chosen, plus a bunch of spacing material, some rules (lines), and other odds and ends. Even if it wasn't progress on the intended Sunday project, it was a very good deal!

After unwrapping and making notes on the type, which really didn't take too long, I went back to working on the order form. I made a back side, which lists the base pricing and prices for additions like a second color, custom artwork/polymer plates, etc.  The Capricon meeting was a 3-hour+ slog, so Ron didn't get home until shortly before dinner was ready.

Sunday evening

After dinner, which we ate in the bedroom because Robin and Marmaduke were kind of spread all over the couch, I re-captured the chair by the computer and did some more work. I got a list of available type made, with the proofs, including at least references to the new stuff. I also got started on pages showing  all our available blocks. I got about a third of the way through importing the ones we have scanned proofs for (the rest need to have proofs printed). 

To sum up

Definite progress on the order form an related necessary information for ordering business cards. Alas, the governor didn't close the state offices on account of cold today so I could do some more.

No progress on printing new stuff for us. May or may not get to printing this week, as Robin is sleeping on an air mattress in the spare bedroom, because the current state of his knee is not compatible with sleeping in his loft.

Even if Robin doesn't isn't using crutches or a cane by Friday (highly doubtful), he will still not be mobile enough to help with Military History Fest setup. Pretty sure he'd prefer an undamaged knee and working, though. OTOH, a friend of ours may be available and willing to lend a hand Friday morning. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Banners & Anime Midwest & Things


The new fabric banners arrived last night!
2 ft. x 2 ft. banner

2 ft. x 4 ft. banner
Hmm. I don't seem to have done the same color-correction on both pictures, the banners are the same colors. I also discovered that PhotoShop Touch for the iWhatsit can only rotate 90 or 180 degrees, not an arbitrary value like I needed to for the picture of the square banner.

The cream colored background they're supposed to have turned out only vaguely off-white (the picture of the big banner is closer to how they really look), but the rest of the graphics aren't the horrible washed-out mess that resulted when the previous printer tried to color-correct the background to white. Their turnaround time was fast, as mentioned previously, and their prices were good - $60-ish and $30-ish for each banner, plus shipping. So, I endorse this printer, MegaPrint(.com), and will be willing to use them again.

My only complaint is that they rolled the larger banner up the silly way, so it was a 4' long roll, which meant it shipped in something like a 5' long box, which was more pricey than the box for a 2' long tube would have been. I'm assuming that they usually do big stuff, so that's what they have shipping supplies for, and be content. They also didn't set grommets on the centers of the long sides of the big banner, but we can fix that ourselves. 

I tried the square banner with the plain brown text for "tter Necessities" that I used on the big banner, but it needed something more. Then I tried the two-color "tter Necessities" on the big banner, but that was too busy with the other text. If you click for the full-size pictures, the smaller print on the big banner has a lighter highlight. 

Other Things

Yesterday we also received the second order of photopolymer printing plates. Unfortunately, I made an error on how I submitted the plates for the printer to gang up, so they're closer together than I wanted them to be - I can't trim them to the size of the finished piece, which would have made setup and registration easier. Ron came up with a workaround, though. Wednesday we got the custom-mix dark brown ink I'd ordered, which I think I've forgotten to mention up until now. The green ink and replacement adhesive for the polymer plates is scheduled for delivery today (the adhesive on the plates is good for more than one use, but I'm not sure how many times it will be good for, and ordering some to have some on hand was cheap peace of mind).

I considered trimming plates and printing last night, but decided I had insufficient functioning brain cells.

Still haven't made the order form for calling/business cards. Must do that this weekend.

A while back I volunteered to help with publications for the annual floodplain managers' conference I attend. Got e-mail about it last night, responded this morning, we'll see how it goes. Normally my content deadlines for convention books are 6 and 8 weeks from the convention. Wednesday was 7 weeks from this one, and I'm busy next weekend with Military History Fest, the next weekend with Cap, and some of my proposals are a pretty big change from how things have been done in the past for this conference. Even if I can't convince them to try everything, I'm hoping for some incremental progress.

Anime Midwest - Yet More Kvetching

Yesterday I wrote down the timeline of registering for ACen and Anime Midwest. 

I started the ACen Exhibitor registration process on September 1st. On September 9th I got e-mail that I was approved and the process to continue with choosing space, etc. was X, Y, Z. I got updates on September 11th, October 15th, 22nd, and 28th, chose my space on October 28th, more updates on November 5th and 14th, and paid for my space, finishing the process, on November 16th. One or two of the updates were extras because of a change in their process from previous years, and one or two were responses, prompt ones, to e-mail I sent. But even though I did get frustrated with the process, I mostly knew what was going on, and it was wrapped up in 2-1/2 months.

Now let's look at Anime Midwest:
I started the process on October 31st. Unlike ACen's on-line system, no mail echoing what I sent, or acknowledgement it was received. I e-mailed on 11 November, heard only the chirping of crickets, so I e-mailed their parent organization on November 21st. On November 25th I finally got a response that they're still reviewing exhibitor applications, with nothing about when they'd actually have an answer. Since then . . . crickets.  A week from today will be 3 months since I submitted the application, and they can't manage to get me an answer ACen got me in 8 days. 

I'm debating when (not, you note, "if") I want to poke at Anime Midwest again. Also if I want to even be an exhibitor with them, given how things are going so far.  We did well at ACen, and had a bunch of people ask if we'd be at Anime Midwest, so I think we'd do well there, too. OTOH, I'm not getting a feeling of competence.  ACen's process as described wasn't how it really worked out, but at least they communicated.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Print Studio Layout

As threatened, here are pictures (click to embiggen) of our letterpress studio in the spare bedroom.  

Standing in the doorway at the southwest corner of the room, looking at the north wall:

You're looking at the Ikea gate-leg table, with the big bench off to the right. The stuff in the foreground is on top of the set of Elfa drawers holding the slide rule collection. The space where the folding chair is between the gate-leg table and the big bench is where I'd planned to put the file drawers. (I very briefly considered removing or raising the lowest shelf of books, but then we'd have the problem of what to do with the books.) There is room to open the other wing of the table, if we want the table space and I don't need to use my press. The box on the table is full of the MuseCon coasters, ready for Capricon.

The air conditioners are in front of the (full of rarely-needed stuff) closet door. When we take them out of the windows next fall they probably won't be coming back into this room. I'm also thinking of replacing the big one for our room with two smaller units like Robin's, which will at very least be not quite so large, heavy, and awkward.

Here's the big bench (an Ikea kitchen counter unit) that the presses sit on, on the east wall:

About the only change from the previous picture I've posted is where things are on the shelves underneath. You can see a bit of the folding chair and the very corner of the gate-leg table on the left side of the picture. That is another bookshelf tucked into the corner to the right of the bench.

Turning 180 degrees, here's the west wall:

In the center are the 5-drawer small flat-file cabinets, on top of their Elfa drawer unit stand (from the Container Store). On the left, the black thing is the paper cutter, the thing on the right is the paper creaser. They sit on the small Ikea kitchen carts.Off on the left are most of our CDs, some of which are piled higgledy-piggledy on top of the air conditioners, and a bit of the gate-leg table. Once we put the air conditioners in the windows come spring, hopefully the CDs can go back on the shelves.

On the bottom shelf under the creaser you can see the new, more defininitely green paper. The package of paper next to it is the very pale green (the pictures are kind of yellow, I forgot to color-correct before uploading). The thing(s) on top of the filing cabinets is a power squid.

We did not clean up the room for these pictures, although the cleaning fairies did come yesterday, which meant the floor was vacuumed. We've been trying hard to keep the room neat. The pile of things to the left of my press on the big bench is actually not quite as disorganized as it appears. Can't quite say the same for the odds and ends piled on the paper cutter, though.

Not pictured is the south wall of the room, which has a set of shelves along it, filled with things that have nothing to do with printing, and the Elfa drawer unit housing the slide rules.

I was somewhat surprised to discover that an air mattress will still fit in the open floor space, even without dropping both wings of the table and rotating it against the wall. We didn't end up needing the air mattress, but now we know it is usable. Not sure if the cot will fit, though.

I have tracking numbers for the new banners and polymer plates. I expect the plates tomorrow and the banners on Friday, yay!  I'm impressed that the banners went out yesterday, as I didn't get the file for the smaller banner sent to the printer until the afternoon on Monday. 

Didn't make any progress on an order form for business cards last night, but I did make cut up a rather large piece of beef, and from it made dinner for last night (curry), tonight (vaguely chili-ish stew), and cooked strips to have on dinner salads tomorrow, plus doing dishes and all while not making a mess out of my nice clean kitchen. I love my cleaning fairies! (the "fairies" part referring to the magical aspect of the house getting clean)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Paper and Piggies and Other Things

We got the colored paper I ordered. The green I ordered is very very pale, more so than I was expecting from the approximation in their utility guide book. I'd been debating buying a sample pack of almost all of their paper, both weights and colors, so on Saturday afternoon I did. I also ordered what should be a darker green, Pop-Tone "Limeade". I waffled a bit about the green, but I decided to go for it as it didn't increase the shipping, which is a consideration when buying paper. They're out for delivery today.

Going back a couple blog entries, prior to my thoughts on the Chi-Fi thing, I talked about getting some Bisley filing cabinets from The Container Store.  After googling and determining there are no other good options for small flat file drawer units, on Sunday morning Ron and I got two of the smaller 5-drawer units (in orange) for the letterpress studio. The price of the 10-drawer unit had gone up by $20, so it was cheaper to buy the two 5-drawer units than the 10-drawer. The Container Store didn't have the wheeled base unit, and the casters on the base for a larger Bisley filing cabinet were craptastic. We discussed getting a small furniture dolly from Ace Hardware, but ended up being seduced by The Container Store's annual Elfa sale. We got the parts for a small wheeled mesh drawer unit, "cabinet size" (shallower), 4 drawer units high. 

The Elfa base we created is just about a perfect size, but it has one problem - the combination of base and Bisley cabinets is too tall to sit between the big bench and the composing gate-leg table, which is where I was thinking of putting it. So we put it between the paper cutter and creaser. 

When we got home from that shopping trip, we sorted blocks and put them away. IIRC we have 1 drawer for polymer plates, 2 of Christmas blocks, 1 of chickens (Ron's) and pigs (mine), 2 of other animals,  2 of "everything else", and one empty. Which only adds up to 9 drawers.  Oh, I remember now, there was one of frames and bookplates. So, we'll probably be getting a couple more 5-drawer cabinets and a small furniture dolly to put where I'd originally thought. Because we keep buying blocks.

A little bit ago I won an eBay auction for a herd of 6 piggies grazing. I think it needs to be an invitation or some kind of card, but I'm not sure exactly what.

No, I don't know why I've got a thing for pigs, nor can Ron say what's up with his chicken thing. I'll blame my maternal grandmother, she liked pigs too.   

Saturday afternoon I updated the banner designs I'd come up with in the past to use the Parsnip font I talked about earlier this month, and ordered two new banners, one 2' x 4' long, and one 2' x 2'. Yesterday I got e-mail that the file for the square one got eaten by the printers' system, but we got home from the funeral (see the personal blog) at a reasonable time and got it sent.

Did I mention Saturday was busy?  It was. Another Saturday accomplishment was finishing up the design for the new business cards, and sending the files off to get polymer plates made. I had time after the funeral and before the luncheon started to call the company making the plates and confirm that the files I sent would work, as this time around I sent images with shading. They were made today and I should have them before the weekend, so I could have some made for Military History Fest.

I think it was Sunday that we brought the proofs (sample prints) we have for most of the letterpress blocks downstairs and Ron scanned them. I started to try to come up with a business card order form yesterday afternoon after we got home, but I was just to tired to think straight. I did get an InDesign set of paragraph styles made of the digital stand-ins for the metal type we have. Yes, that was an accomplishment, after not sleeping at all well Sunday night/Monday morning, and then getting up at 5 am to go to Michigan for a visitation and funeral. 

Hopefully I can make some progress on making a business card order form tonight. I think I've pretty much given up on getting any new leather goods done for Military History Fest. I meant to at least try to get the valise I started finished, and it isn't a completely forlorn hope, but I'm not holding my breath. I'd hoped to at least lay out some signs to print (prices, "we do custom work", etc.), but we went shopping for the filing cabinets and organized blocks instead. Oops. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

More About Chi-Fi

Amazing Stories magazine did a story about the Chi-Fi vs. hotel controversy. Not surprisingly, they came to many of the same conclusions I did, with more, although not definitive, evidence:


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chi-Fi is Definitely Off the Schedule for 2014

Back in October I posted an entry nattering about possible events to go to. One of them was Chi-Fi, a new SF convention to be held in downtown Chicago at the end of March. I had this to say about it at that time:

"Chi-Fi:  SF/Geek. Conflicted. Prices not unreasonable. Downtown Chicago does not thrill us for getting the trailer there (much less parking - would probably haul it back home), or getting there ourselves. 1st year, wondering what attendance they'll get. Xap pointed out that they have some good musicians coming, though. Currently leaning away."

I e-mailed for more information, and got some (attendance hopes), but not other bits (trailer parking/storage options). I decided that their vendor prices and attendance hopes were higher than I was comfortable with for a first year, especially when coupled with the whole location/parking issue, so we decided "maybe next year".

This morning I saw the news via social media that Chi-Fi as a weekend-long convention will not be happening this year.

The convention chair has stated that the hotel had issues with the convention's anti-harassment policy, and hotel staff (managment?) referred to fen as freaks. The hotel has countered that the issues were not as stated by Chi-Fi, but they and the convention could not come to agreement on certain issues, and that the convention requested an out, which the hotel granted. 

On social media the majority of commenters seem to be assuming absolutes - truth by the convention and lies by the hotel.

I'm not one of them. I'm betting that the truth is somewhere in-between the two. My guess is that the word "freaks" was used by someone at some time, and that there were discussions about how the convention's anti-harassment policy would apply to hotel staff. And I'm also guessing that there were issues from the convention's end.  I suspect there's been a lot going on that neither side is talking about. 

The upshot is that Chi-Fi is mostly off for this year - they will be doing a Saturday-only event at a different venue. They have stated this is not a cancellation, just a delay on holding a full convention until next year. They've also stated that refunds are available. These are encouraging signs for Chi-Fi's continued existence. 

To wrap it all up with as somewhat on-topic, I'm glad we decided not to do Chi-Fi this year, and Otter Necessities is still at "maybe next year".

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bookwork, and Some More Entertaining Work

Yes, I have finally been working on the books. Over the last two weekends I got all the 2013 transactions entered into my spreadsheets. 

I started the first weekend this month with entering purchases, which took a good chunk of Saturday. On that Sunday I did on-line sales. Not that I had a lot of them, but I had to go through and make sure I had copies of all the necessary bits and pieces of each transaction - Etsy, PayPal, and the USPS. 

Yes, these tasks would be a lot easier if I'd kept up with the books throughout the year. I'd started out the year well, but things went to heck in a handbasket about the time we decided to do ACen. Getting ready for ACen ate my brain for a month, doing ACen and going to Wiscon on back-to-back weekends killed it some more, and the bookwork never really recovered. 

Last weekend on Saturday we got all the sales done on the iWhatsit Point of Sale application in. The app happily spits out a CVS file that's easy to import into a spreadsheet, especially since I was willing to let the sales we'd done that way be in a different format in the books. But I also shift records from my inventory spreadsheet to my items sold spreadsheet. The POS (Point of Sale, not Piece of S***, which I always want to read POS as) actually made that easier - I dropped each event in as a individual spreadsheets, which I can sort, and re-sort as necessary to make various parts of the record-keeping process easier.

Sunday I was feeling very meh, so I didn't do any more with the books. We went shopping instead. We got a gate-leg table to put where the shelves were in the spare bedroom, for composing text on (on the wall to the left of the big bench): 
The table has been declared a "clean" surface - which means it should be safe to set paper on, as it shouldn't be grubbied up with ink, oil, etc.
The previous Friday we'd gotten two smaller kitchen carts, for the paper cutter and creaser:

Yeah, this Ikea thing is becoming a (very bad) habit.

The default state of the gate-leg table is with only the left wing up (facing it, big bench along the wall on the right). With the right wing up, you can't work at my press or open the end drawer of the big bench. But that wing can be put up if we need the table space. And if we want more space in the room we can drop both wings, and rotate the resulting very small thing parallel to the wall. An all-around win.  Ron modified three of the six drawers so that they can all be put in and taken out from one side, since the other is against the wall in the default position.

I need to get pictures of the whole room to give an idea of how its laid out.

Next furniture-ish purchase is probably shallow flat file drawers. A small set for the dining room for patterns, and a larger set for the print studio for paper, polymer plates (which should be stored flat), etc. I was planning on putting those where the gate-leg table is, but I have some other options. 

The 5-drawer units are about half the height of the larger units, same depth drawers, IIRC, as the ones in the dark large unit - pictures are not to scale.

Saturday and Sunday I also poked at new business card ideas/layouts. Still working on those.

Sunday evening we used one of the new polymer plates on a small piece of base in Ron's press, and printed "Letterpress Printing by Otter Necessities" and the website URL on the back of all 750 MuseCon coasters.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Colored Paper

I ordered paper today, several colors.

I was going to get off-white, pale green, and pale blue. But then an orange that is anything but pale jumped off of a blog page and said "YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS WITH ME". I failed to resist. And then I decided what the hey, I'll add pink and gray and put it on Otter's credit card.  

So I did.

I got, all from French Paper Co.

From their "Construction" line (as in heavy-duty construction equipment, not the awful construction paper we used in grade school), Whitewash (off-white) and Insulation Pink.

The light blue is Dur-O-Tone Butcher Blue.

For light green I got Speckletone Starch Mint. Speckletone is recycled, and has flecks and bits in it. 

The grey is Parchtone Gunmetal. Parchtone is animal-free pseudo-parchment.  

And the rather shocking orange is Pop-Tone Tangy Orange.

Sorry, I can't find a way to link directly to the French Paper blog post that grabbed me. This should get you close, then scroll down to the August 13th entry that's business cards that look like movie tickets.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Leterpress Printing Process

So, as threatened, here's the post with even more pictures going through the printing process. Click pictures to embiggen.

Here is my press. To the left is a piece of almost-white tile where I've been mixing up orange ink. The semi-circular part of the press disappearing off the top of the picture is the ink disk. In front of the tile is the end of a slinky-board. And in front of the press to the left is a small stack of coasters.
My press is a 6x9, which means that the chase, where the type, etc. goes has an inside dimension of 6" by 9". Here's the chase, locked up with my aluminum base plate for sticking photopolymer plates to, with the smaller of our two MuseCon logo plates:
The dark metal blocks, two along the top and one on the right side, are quoins - you put a key in the holes and they spread open to lock things in. Ron's chase uses a different system, which I could use on mine, but don't. More on that below. The white tape on the sides of my chase are holding thin wood on, so that it can't wiggle from side to side in the press. 
Here's a closer shot of the plate and base, in the press. That shiny thing down on the bottom is one of the rollers.
 Here's a better idea of what it looks like in the press: On the opposite side is the platen, where I've mounted a frame made out of heavy cardstock, with a cutout for a coaster and a notch. Don't worry, the masking tape is augmented with double-sided tape. I've also augmented the bottom edge of the frame with another layer of cardstock to help the coaster stay in:
 A blank coaster in the frame. I've skipped the boring bits of setup, which involve getting enough layers of paper underneath so that you get a good print, and getting ink spread out on the ink disk.
 As you pull down on the handle, the rollers roll up across the chase, inking the type/plate, and the platen closes toward the chase:
The press in the closed position. No, the rollers don't go all the way to the top of the disk, but the disk rotates with each cycle, so the ink stays evenly spread. I have to use both hands to run my press, as it is all cast iron, heavy heavy heavy.
4 of the 5 bolts you can see in the back of the platen are so that you can adjust it so that its parallel to the chase bed. The center one holds it to the rest of the press. The rails that the rollers ride on as they pass over the chase have been built up with strapping tape, so that they don't apply too much tape. Another fiddly adjustment job that had to be done (Ron's press was less worn, so didn't need the rails taped).
One coaster printed. Take it out with one hand while the other puts a new one in:
 Except when the coaster falls out of the frame:
 Retrieving the fallen coaster; carefully, so you don't bump the inky rollers:

On Wednesday I finally added a strip across the bottom quarter-inch or so of the frame opening, to prevent this. Even if you see something shift while you're closing the press, you DO NOT reach in. Metal hard. Fingers squishy. Guess which is going to win?  Fortunately, I only had one coaster get mangled, the rest fell out when the press was opening, with only a few stray ink speckles resulting.

Ron's press is a 3x5. Here's his chase locked up with the text for the coasters:
Ron's chase uses screws that go through the chase frame, two the top and two on the left. I can tell which sides, because that's where the chase irons are - you could screw against the wood furniture, but that would leave divots in the furniture. 

The little things holding the coaster in place are gage pins. These are new-fangled foam and plastic ones.
 Older style gage pins are metal, and can damage type or be smashed against the chase or the metal base for polymer plate. We have some, but haven't used them yet, because the foam ones have been working just fine, despite statements by some people that they should only be used in blah blah blah situations.

A finished coaster:
 The metal bar on the right side is a gripper arm. We have pairs of them for each press, and when printing on larger pieces of paper you position them so that they catch the paper and help peel it off the type, as the ink is sticky. 

But gripper arms are another thing that you have to worry about smashing or being smashed - You don't want to catch them between the chase and platen  or the aluminum base for photopolymer plates and the platen (would damage the gripper arm and/or the aluminum base), or between the type and the platen (damage the type).

I've posted this picture before, on one of the blogs, but I'll post it again so you can see the relative sizes of the two presses. Ron's press I can run one-handed:

I can do a lot more with Ron's press before getting tired, but mine has a bigger print area. The aluminum base we have doesn't fit in his chase, but we did buy some scrap, which we can put some of the smaller photopolymer plates on, so we can use them in Ron's press, or in either press in combination with type.


Monday I got to work, was at the office for about a half-hour, and then went home, when the governor closed down State offices due to the weather. Tuesday morning I got to work, the office was cold because the boilers were broken and off (1 in each state), so we were sent home at noon. Yesterday the assistant director of awesome went into the office at about 6 am, determined that it was still freezing cold and e-mailed us to stay home. And didn't leave the office for the night until sometime after 9 pm (at which one of the boilers had been replaced and the office was back up to reasonable temperatures). Hopefully she got home for a while in there somewhere. 

Monday afternoon, the photopolymer plates arrived. Well, plate - it was one big sheet, as shown in my previous post in the low-resolution facsimile of the PDF we sent to have it made. The plastic is relatively soft, easily cut apart with scissors.

I started printing the first pass of coasters for the Capricon Cafe, which MuseCon is sponsoring. 250 coasters later, I called it a day. Tuesday I did the other 250. The first pass looks like this:
This is one from Monday: Monday I started out with this pale green, and kept adding (evil messy) blue until I finished up with a dark pine green:
Tuesday I started with orange, and either orange is stubborn, or I was being restrained when I was adding red, because there isn't much change (these are from the end of the day's run):

Monday and/or Tuesday evening (I forget exactly what we did when) Ron did the backs of some business cards he'd made over the weekend for advertising the cafe:

Tuesday night we set up the text and on Wednesday I did the words on all 500 coasters. I started out with light blue, darkened it up, added red to make burgundy, then added yellow to make light brown, then black to make bronze, although these are the light blue and burgundy:

The coasters are soft and porous enough paper that that we could stack coasters as they were done. Ron came home in the early afternoon, and then we did 250 more coasters, for the MuseCon party at Wiscon. He did the words, then I grabbed stacks and did the logo. Except when we switched places, because my shoulder and back got tired, because my press is a lot bigger and heavier to run. I'd left the bronze on his press, and I loaded up mine with (evil) blue:

Then Ron did some sample business cards. Those are in the slinky-board on the left in this picture. The other 3 slinky-boards are holding about 250 coasters (if you count the ones laid on top):

Why do I keep referring to the blue ink as evil blue?  Because it is. The can got packed upside-down for shipping, but even now that the ink has settled back to the bottom of the can (its really thick), it still gets everywhere. We've wiped the outside of the can off countless times, and you still can't touch it without getting blue on your hands. And it leaps off the press onto you like no other color does. The blue is evil. Pretty, but evil. 

This post is probably long enough. I have another whole string of pictures documenting the printing process, I think those will be a separate post.