een Hand Gebonden Kunstenaarsboek '(The) Fairing(s)', the Artist's-Books Workshop,Vilnius 2009 a hand-bound Artist's-Book / le Livre d'Artist / ein handgebundenes Künstler Buch / Mahler Buch

1. A 'fairing' is a gift. More precisely: a 'fairing' is a present given at or brought from a fair. 2. A 'fairing' is a thin cake made of sugar and butter.

3. 'Fairing' is making the surface of an aeroplane smooth and streamlike. More generally it is used for the process of streamlining.

 

Printers are a funny lot.

In a printer's workshop there is little as reassuring as the measures. As such this would be a fact easy to understand if it were not for the other, rather more incomprehensible, fact that this 'fact to murder for' has never seen the light of international agreement. To begin with it was as exact as any measuring with the local 'length of an arm', or foot, if you like.

Pierre Simon Fournier (1712-1768) was (in France that is) the first to have his typographical units - based on a 'less common' foot - 'approved of by many'. His 'approximate pouce' (something like a foot) was divided by 12 to have a 'ligne', which is to be divede by 6 in order to have a 'point'.

François Ambroise Didot modified that 'less common foot', and made Fournier's typographical base unit precisely fit a 'pouce' - which has to do with some French Royal inch somehow. This practise made the Didot point exactly 0,3759715104 mm (well now, there you are!)

The French influence was not world-wide. Many attempts were made to have a British / American agreement on the subject (Bruce's mathematical system on precise geometric progression, etc).
It would take till 1886 when Nelson C. Hawks came up with a standard fairly similar to Fournier's. There was of course a problem with it not fitting to Imperial Inches nor to US inches (these two having legal differences to fight for). The succesfull type founders in America came with a 83 Johnson Pica's to equal 35 cm. Since the Johnson Pica was (in the end) somewhat undecided for (and with variations all over the place) the Americans decided on:
1 pica to equal 4.233 mm, and 1 point to equal 0,3527 mm

The EU standardized the didot point in 1973 as 0,375 mm, something the Germans call 'metric' and therefor 'ein typographischer Punkt', opposed to Fournier points and Didot points - and in fact all the other ones that may fill your old cases with led type face.

When you hear a printer's certainties you would not have the stomach to begin an argument on how precise he would like to be.
All this may bring an awareness about why occasionally designs from a Dutch artist's workshop to a Malaisian computerized book producer, or indeed from one computer to a printer's office with another computer 'just isn't what one expected'.
Well we are talking aesthetics, so where is the problem.

 

When printing, it would be nice when all you had in your press was the same height - the press being fairly strong and such, so anything too high might be crushed, and anything lower might be not printed at all.

In order to have that fixed your press has a certain 'standard' height.
In all the years we are printing now this standard height depends on the country your press is from.

This is all 'standard' as related to the height of lead that is under your type:
Dutch height = Hollandse hoogte is 24,85 mm
in England that is 23,32
in France 23,55
in Germany 23,56
Well, etc.!
Practise has learned me that even the clever presses with adjustable base, as I encountered in Germany, just do not have the flexibility to 'do' the Hollandse Hoogte; it prints the fine Dutch Egmont every bit 'podgruba' (as a Polish printer would call 'bold').

 

Printing is something that begins with stamping a potato-cut on a piece of paper, and it never ends - however sophisticated your press, or indeed your printer, may be.

Something you should never forget is that a fine artist can 'paint' a potato-cut in such fine ways, before in a distinct unevenly way pressing it on to the paper, that it would take the best presses (and pre-press work before that) many hours to even reproduce it.

 

all measure, and measures

Photographs by courtesy of Jantsje Post; again, made when working together on the project of making a minor catalogue for the works of Pieter Westra.

Do not oversee this last picture, you might need to print a bright yellow next!

The press shown here is the old (1958) 'Korrex' proofing press from the 'Leeuwarder Courant', as donated (in the 198ties) by them to Joseph J. Visser.
page size 50 (plus) x 70 (plus); it is the same sort of press (together with some typeface) that was donated by Atelier It Plein 19 to the Vilnius Academy of Arts in 2008; that actually is a 'Robel'.

Presses like these were used to make a first 'correction print' (first to go to the designer's in order to check the lay-out, then to the corrector's) - and when all (lay-out, typing errors, and such were rightly changed a new 'proof' went to the printer's where it would serve as the 'example'; exactly as it was (and indeed is) old practise in a printer's studio when working with artists-printmakers: the 'artist's-proof' is the 'ideal' copy of the print before the edition were taken on to which the edition's copies were compared. (when ready, printers like to refer to their prints as being 'artist proof')

 

 

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