Frans “On Press” at Goss

Bells clanged. A whistle blows. One long toot. Three short ones. The massive Goss Sunday Press – it takes two minutes to walk its length – began pushing paper through an army of coordinated gleaming steel rollers and whipping around conveyors and folding apparatus in the CIMS building yesterday morning at eight.

Three expert pressmen made tiny adjustments on sliders so numerous even the fanciest recording studios would be put to shame.

The rolls of paper – 100# silk white Productolith, as spec’d by the book’s designer, Heidi Trost – stand four feet high and are nearly five feet in diameter. They’re stacked two stories tall next to the Goss.

Project photographer Sue Weisler is on hand (a coffee cup in the other hand). So is RIT’s Design School Professor Bruce Meader – enlisted (maybe “ambushed”) while restfully enjoying lunch the week before – a design expert.

We’re “on press” as the first signature – 16 pages – for Frans Wildenhain 1950-75: Creative and Commercial American Ceramics at Mid-Century rolls through the Goss. As cool as it is just to say it – “we’re on press” – it’s even more cool to watch the production. Cool: on an 85-degree, 80 percent humidity day!

Alongside the Goss’s length are large pails of pigment. And very large, yellow plastic spatulas. Production boards with drawers five feet wide below the slanted white inspection surfaces brilliantly lit begin to fill with the first signatures off the press. Natural lighting streams in from the tall windows opposite the press. There are more loops present than at a jewelry store.

Everyone’s looking. Carefully. Squinting through the loops. Pointing. Adjusting. Tapping this and moving that. And then grabbing another five signatures off the press to repeat the process.

Sue Weisler posted a photo on the Wildenhain Facebook page: And, as long as you’re there, you might as well “Like” the page, too.

Goss goes. No stopping. Pull a sig, review it, make the adjustment, pull another. The press is cranking and the folded signatures run off the conveyor, most of these are destined for recycling. Until we’re satisfied with the quality: color reproduction and balance, registration, spot varnish.

Once we are, then the Goss really starts running. Twenty minutes later, all the signatures are done, neatly stacked on a pallet and marked for the bindery.

The press isn’t a light switch one just snaps off. It is still running paper and producing more sigs, after completing the first run. They have less color, some are smeared others eerily pale.

Yesterday the first six signatures for Frans were completed. The Goss Sunday Press will finish its run for us on Thursday. We’re the very last book to be produced on it. The press will leave by the end of the year. The signatures look good. Really good. Thanks to the expertise of the pressmen.

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