Saturday, December 6, 2014

Arion Press Tour --- Day 3/320

Walk: Presidio/Arion Press
Distance: 5 miles

Local treasure and historic wonder, Arion Press, had a holiday open house today. Included was a demonstration tour of Arion's historic book making and printing facilities and the type foundry of M & H Type. Ciwt felt she had returned to some Dickensonian or Benjamin Franklin world of early printers.  Just an incredibly exacting, intensive labor of rare vision, rare apprentice-acquired skill and love.

The facility is one of the last of its kind in the world in full operation.  Some of the rare historic machinery dates back to the early 1900's .

The huge collection of type faces is unparalleled anywhere in the world              
(one corridor of type cases)                              (more here and that's not all; at present there are 3,888 cases)

Ciwt had an opportunity to see type cast from molten lead in the foundry and hear about the precautions necessary to work with lead.  (The main health problems come from the vapors and lead dust). She also watched pages being made up in the composition room and printed by letter press.

One of her favorite stations was the binding station where books are folded (by hand often!) into pages, stacked, and then either machine sews or hand sewn with a needlepoint type needle on the apparatus above. After being sewn the books are backed and then cased in.  Casing in (or creating the actual exterior look of the book) is apparently the most prestigious of all book binding work.  Ciwt imagines Andrew Hoyem (Mr. Arion Press) - or someone he has carefully selected - probably does most of the casing in.

Maybe because Ciwt has some familiarity with needlepoint (and the often accompanying carpal tunnel complications) she could particularly relate to the labor involved here.  She was also interested to see a box of band aids and to learn that even rare paper can be - and is! - cleaned of blood with the use of some clear vinegar.

See PBS Newshour on Arion Press

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