Passion, through Paper and Iron.

By Jacob L. Snizik

Have you ever been in the presence of a machine, one that is older than you, much older, and see it work just as efficiently as the day it was made. Well, last Wednesday, on our Wilkinsburg excursion, we did exactly that.

Our group was taken to a press works and were shown the workings of an old fashioned cast iron printer, one electrically outfitted but still functioning as it did when it was made more than a century ago. It was complex, and yet very simple at the same time. The machine was set running, the wheel turned, the press was set in motion, the rollers were covered in ink from the ink disc, the paper was inserted, the “press” occurred and the printed page was left there for the printer to pull out from the machine.

We were taught how to set the type with furniture into the iron form, a process much more complicated than just typing and printing on the computer, but then again, there were something hand crafted about it, like working with pottery or making a great drawing or painting or anything else artistic.

I found the form of a comedy and tragedy mask, one I spied while we were being explained the workings of the printer. With it my group and I found a crown and we set the print into the iron mold. We affixed the furniture, and when we checked that it was solid and would hold, we gave it the to the printer and she made four copies for us.

Here is mine. The whole experience was so splendid and I highly recommend the place we went to, the woman who runs it is very professional and her work is very beautiful.

Never thought of a name for it, or at least I haven’t yet.

3 thoughts on “Passion, through Paper and Iron.”

  1. I like your point that the printing press functioned just as well as the day it was made. It struck me, because my family has a sort of computer “graveyard” in our basement of all our old devices that ceased to work, or mostly ceased to work, years ago. Few have last over 5 years, and the ones that have can no longer be updated. I am by NO means anti-digital–I love using my phone and computer and iPod and all those things because they ARE useful and fast and easy, and they give a wonderful finished project. But this class has really made me consider the tangibility of the mechanical world, and your post made me wonder why modern technology is so short-lived compared to its ancient ancestors? Shouldn’t it be the other way around, that as society grows more advanced its tools grow more permanent?


  2. You get at the sturdy, durable, and in fact timeless, quality of the Chandler and Price. I love the title of this post. “Iron and paper” – what a marriage of opposites! Iron flywheel, lead type, rubber ink, and paper…in a world of plastics and lithium ion and nylon etc. etc.


  3. The title of your post stood out to me in a very good way! The title takes passion and identifies it with two words that are seemingly simplistic and raw – “paper” and “iron.” The title, while interesting on its own, also ties in well with your article and the idea of how hands-on creations can be a much more enriching experience!


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