AHP at Storylines Festival

Bruce Grenville reports on the AHP stall at THE STORYLINES FESTIVAL FAMILY DAY, AOTEA CENTRE, AUCKLAND. Sunday 30th August 2015.

The Association of Handcraft Printers participated in this event with a popular and effective stall, teaching children (and some biggies too) how to set type, and print their name on bookmarks and papers.

It began as a rainy spring day, and the event went perfectly. We had learned from our experience of doing this annual event by avoiding a crucial bottleneck, in that we had an Adana 8×5 press, and three chases. Previous years, we had two chases, which seemed okay at the time, but three made it so much better, and meant that we could have one name being printed, and as soon as this was finished, the next one was instantly ready, and thus we were able to power through the queues of eager kids that besieged the stall all day, from start at 10 a.m. till finish at around 3 p.m.

The Storylines Festival takes place over a week in five centres around New Zealand, including two different Auckland venues this weekend, which AHP took part in. For the Saturday, Graham Judd and Steffan Brough staffed a stall at Mangere, and reported it was quiet with about 75 trainees. For the Sunday event at Aotea Centre, we had a team of five (Wailin Elliott, her daughter Lydia, her grand-daughter Lily, Brendan Laing, his son Nathan, and Bruce Grenville). We also had a big pile of Association of Handcraft Printers fliers, and three different AHP-logoed bookmarks; each trainee was asked to choose one to print their name on. The designs were a butterfly, a knight’s helmet, and a boat. The butterfly on yellow card was by far the most popular choice. I had also taken a pile of an A5 page I printed for an old Vinculum: the number 7 in various languages, so the trainees added their name to the top of this, until they ran out early in the afternoon. And we had a big pile of blank A5 paper so each person got to print one or two of these with their name at the top as a letterhead.

printables printing

We warned each child that: “the ink takes about a day to dry, so be VERY careful going home that you don’t smudge them!”  Usually, an understanding parent undertook to safeguard the prints. We deliberately kept the ink level at minimal.

Fortunately the advance planning meant we had supplies of everything needed: a 36 point font (Gill Light, a very pleasing font, which I have owned for many years and never used, so was pleasantly surprised), cleaning solvent, scrap paper, old newspapers for table-covering and cleanup, ink, two comp sticks, three chases, furniture, quoins, and quoin keys. The bottleneck was often at the printing stage, and as soon as each child had finished printing their items, we quickly pulled off the chase and the next one was ready to go. We had no complaints from visitors. The queue lessened often, so we were not rushed off our feet as we had been at other years (perhaps the wet weather lowered attendance.) Storylines provided lunches for us, and we were easily able to roster our team to get lunch while keeping the stall going.

Some other stalls at the Festival had Braille typesetting, and calligraphers. So we blended in very well.

The Storylines team was very appreciative of our presence. They contribute to the AHP each year as thanks for our attendance which helps to boost our funds.

Right next to us was live music from a grand piano, so it was quite pleasant to print with music in our ears. (Certainly beats ink in your ears!)

When all was over, we got cleaned up, loaded, and departed by 3.30 p.m.

To keep statistics, we took sheets of A2 paper and pencils, and each child or adult who queued to print their name was first asked to add their name to the list. So by adding up the number of names at the end of the day, we can see how many visitors we processed. We had 155 in total for the day, down from 231 at 2013’s Storylines.

Storylines had all their volunteers outfitted in lime green shirts, which we were offered, and wore for the day.

In the discussion and planning for this event, we realised we had no AHP handout fliers; Fortunately Brendan was able to save the day by running off 1,000 A5 fliers by Heidelberg, using the extant AHP linotype and adding the AHP website, so both Saturday and Sunday teams had a supply. We gave one to each trainee, so hopefully this will rebound with future members.

One trainee was so impressed he asked if he could buy the Adana (Brendan’s!), but as Brendan was on a break at the time, I suggested the keen printer should try Trademe or join the AHP.

A very successful day, and a great time had by all. I recommend participating in future years’ festivals.

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