Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's.... another press!

When I added a musician to my household I learned about an ailment common to the breed: GAS, or Gear (or Guitar) Acquisition Syndrome. I've enjoyed rolling my eyes at conversations about mixers and amplifiers and the equipment minutiae typical of musicians. I shake my head and chuckle, "Musicians!"

Which is not to say I don't have my own art gear foibles. I have a zillion daypacks and bags because none is ever perfect for all iterations of travel with sketching gear. I have many tubes of ink and paint, scores of drawing implements, drawers of paper and sketchbooks. But until recently the common feature of all of it has been that I could move it myself. Well, except for the paper storage cabinet... but that's another story.

And then something started happening. Back in February the stork brought me a Richeson Baby Press, now affectionately named Elvis (Press-ley). Elvis weighs about 65 pounds and I can schlep him around a bit, but he's pushing the envelope.

Of course I then needed a steel tool cabinet for Elvis to sit upon, which arrived in April. This I could NOT move by myself, but the DM and I teamed up to haul it up the stairs to Studio V with a modicum of huffing and puffing.

With the move to Studio V it became clear that I needed a new work surface. The solid-core door which is now the table top is also a two-person shift. As is the new stall mat. Rut ro.

But as of this morning I have now officially gone 'round the bend, having taken custody of an old Challenge proof press*. Well, I've taken partial custody of it, as it's in temporary storage in the garage of friends nearby. At several hundred pounds of awkwardness there's no WAY the three strong young men and we two middle-aged printmakers and our significant others could have gotten this thing upstairs to Studio V. So yeah, I'm already hunting for new studio space. (sigh)

Suddenly I'm shaking my head and chuckling not at musicians but at myself... the proud caretaker of a behemoth about which I know nothing and for which I have no permanent home. Printmaker's Gear Acquisition Syndrome? 'Fraid so. But it's a thing of beauty, ain't it?

(*To my surprise, I'm finding it difficult to locate information about this press online. Challenge proof presses were originally supposed to be competition for Vandercook models, but Vandercook won a legal action against Challenge and they stopped manufacturing them. Could be the name "Challenge" will be more appropriate than is comfortable. We'll see.)


  1. Oh, that baby's gonna take some shoving!But I'm sure you'll have fun.

    Here's a link to one of our book group;although she is Down Under she is knowledgable in matters of press and might know of somewhere you can source info for your press.She does offer a PDF of Vandercook plans

  2. Hi Sherrie. Have you tried http://www.briarpress.org/ ? I was trying to figure out some things about the Vandercook at my print co-op and if the information couldn't be found on the site then all I had to do was post a question and someone would know the answer. Wealth of information to be found there... Congrats and good luck!

  3. Sherrie, Hmmmm, you're acquiring large heavy objects that are difficult to move...sounds like a sculptor to me...
    May the new press roll you into a ground floor new studio cause it'll make your creative life easier...
    after it makes it harder. good luck!

  4. Sherrie,
    You might also try the Inkteraction site. Lots of printmakers there to cull info from...
    It's a beauty!

  5. Thanks for the confession...I thought I was the only artist afflicted with GAS!! I even have sets of UNOPENED pencils....and backpacks ditto....oh my. I feel better knowing it is not just me. And how fun to get your latest huge giz-mo: enjoy!

  6. Thanks for all the info tips, Diane, Andrea, and Wendy! I'm sure there's someone out there who knows this particular beast... someone... somewhere...

    Patrick, you might be amused to know that another fabulous sculptor like you once accused me of having such tendencies. I will do as I did then: stick my fingers in my ears and hum, "not listening, not listening"...

    (giggle) Cindy, I have unopened pastels in the closet. From probably 15 years ago. One of these days I'm going to pass them to someone else. Gizmo. Suppose that should be its name? Shall I have Elvis and Gizmo? Or Elvis and Bertha? This one might be a Bertha.

  7. Hi,
    Just saw your post, and I, too, have acquired a Challenge of a press...argh! No info on it that I can find and I've read like a madwoman. If you do find out anything at all, please advise- not only do I have the press and have never once printed a thing (just launched into letterpress...have a CnP and tiny Baltimore 10) but this press is not all here, yet I don't know and can't find out what's missing. I"ll watch for your reply!
    Jan Norris, So. Fla.

  8. Hi Jan... Press-zilla (As she is now affectionately called) is still waiting for her stable home (could be next month), so I haven't really messed around with her much. There's a site called Briar Press (http://www.briarpress.org/) that has proof press info, and the Vandercook press site probably has some folks who know Challenge presses, too. (http://vandercookpress.info/vanderblog/other/censuses-2/challenge/) Good luck!