Alcohol + Letterpress??

A couple disclaimers…

I have no idea what the workshop agenda is.

I do not know what press(s) will be used… could be a tabletop - the press pictured in the blog post is not.

but… this post concerns me.

Alcohol and a veteran press operator is a bad combination, but wine and beginners is a recipe for a disaster.

I know that wine and paint parties are popular, but in my opinion wine and letterpress is not a good mix. I hope that the ad was just poorly written…

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Well, a bottle of wine and a platen press for one person is probably a bad idea.

But a simple regular glass of wine with a platen press, running at moderate speed and with an instructor present capable of… well.. carefully instructing….?

I don’t think it’s the BEST idea in the world, frankly, but also I don’t think it is quite ‘a recipe for disaster’. More like, “things COULD possibly go wrong”, and that depends on how much wine and how errant the instructor is.

Also, the ad isn’t poorly written- the phrasing comes across as cute, and petit- ‘sip wine’ not ‘drink wine till you pass out over the platen press’.

But then, maybe I’m playing devils advocate because if work requires me to stay past 630, I am AOK with cracking open a beer or even 2. Even if I’m feeding my model N (!!Heavens to betsy!!)

When I began printing I was in graduate school and taking a course from Walter Hamady. We were supposed to print a broadside and a chapbook that semester. Well, it was the University of Wisconsin-Madison and even Playboy won’t list UW-M in the top ten party schools because they don’t include “professional” party schools. Best time of my life. At any rate, I came in one afternoon a bit, well, you know. Thirty-seven years later that one page with the two or three typos in my first book are still there.

Never ever did it again.


@ HavenPress I think for you to choose to feed your press while impaired is your right, but it seems that we should not promote this with beginners.

oh please this much to do about nothing

used alcohol by the drum when

running a Shinohara convertible perfector

a little wine is not going to be a bother

read the posting they are going to be doing

a total of thirty impressions

it’s not like they are going to be slugging

down some box wine and hand feeding

a production job all night

Ron…. Heh… Impaired is HARDLY how I would describe it. Not even inebriated.
Enjoying a beer with a quick bite while working is more like it. Having said that, 2 beers is still under the legal limit for my weight and I don’t even feel a strange feeling until I have a third. I’m coming off sounding like an alcoholic maybe, but I assure you that’s not the case.

Having said that, I agree about one thing- promoting it? No.
Let’s not have beginners thinking they should become inebriated and smash around with machinery.
I really, really don’t endorse that.
But I do endorse having some moderate consumption of tasty wine, sips even- if you will- in a situation like I described.

But you’re clearly putting something in the spotlight and chiding, “shame on you” for a moderate situation?

I obviously don’t see a huge problem with a pair of beers while printing at night ‘after the kids have gone to bed’, so to speak, so maybe I’m biased- but I just don’t see why you have to make an entire post about it and discussion about a topic which kind of seems like it might be directed right at the party in question, namely the press who is hosting this event, rather than saying something like, ‘recently I came across this situation. I won’t name names but, here’s what is going on. How do other printers feel about this? I think it is a bad idea.”

I kind of feel the need to defend these individuals too, so I’ll bring up that I’ve been to a few letterpress shops who had open studios, one owner who posts here and gives solid advice time after time, and there were ‘refreshments’ served at the event held at this particular press. Quite positively there were 2-3 presses inked up, waiting for individuals to merely come up and use them. A pilot, an SP15, and maybe another vandercook. Not quite a platen press, but mind you, this was without an instructor looking over your shoulder and was with the general public coming in. People printed.

People had wine or beer and printed. I don’t believe anyone was hurt.
In fact, I think they made prints.

Most shops I worked in had a bottle of Jack Daniels hidden in the back of a drawer or file cabinet for the lubrication of the comps or pressmen, while pulling a late night shift. I haven’t had a drink in decades, but when I did the presses seemed to run so smooooothly.


the job shop i apprenticed in
there was a pressman that could
make a big old Harris four color
do wonderful work
had a hidden bottle of vodka

stories of gin drinking linotype ops were famous

60 years ago head pressman at the Detroit Free Press
once the press run started
would leave the building
and spend the shift at the Post bar

drinking is part of the history of printing

When my father was an apprentice, he would gather the beer pails of the linotype operators and bring them down to get filled at the local tavern.

i worked a part time job as a linotype operator for a company in the mid 1970s, there were two linotypes positioned so either operator could get a beer out of the refrig without getting up, good work if you can get it.

A 12x18 C&P is the wrong press for any educational environment with or without alcohol. This is an OSHA violation and an uninsurable situation.

That’s one heck of a job press, but in this day and age it must be owner-operated only.

Get an iron handpress and you can stash a bottle or ten in the honeycombed top of the platen.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

When I have wine after a while I can fly, so I figure I can print. Haven’t tried it yet but…I think flying is cheaper my press costed a lot.

I knew a printer who swore he cured saturnism with binge drinking. Every couple years, he’d check himself into a hotel at some distant resort, and binge for a week or so “purging the lead from his body”. He was meticulous enough to have his blood tested before and after the “procedure”, and claims there was a substantial difference.

Usually snuck a few “therapeutic” procedures between the work shifts as well.

wine and printing don’t mix, you don’t want to wreck a press but its your limbs that are hard to replace.

Whine belongs in a knackered bearing and alcohol belongs in the dampening system of a offset litho machine .
Old english cider and the occasional rum are found in the watering hole down the road where it is comfortable and the best environment to imbibe !!

Yeah, and I knew a camera/stripper who drank to flush the darkroom chemicals from his system. The creative mind can find a justification for just about anything.