Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Moving A Print Shop: Not For Wimps!

Moving a letterpress print shop is not for the faint of heart. It’s not something you undertake lightly, pardon the pun! Yet move a print shop we did, and not just across town but some 450 miles. It was an ordeal to put it mildly, but happily we and the shop emerged unscathed in the end.

The moving process began with packaging over 600 type cases, cut cases, galleys, and miscellaneous items for transit. We used cardboard and stretch wrap to protect type and cuts from spilling or being scratched up.

Here’s a shot of my husband Bob hauling type from the basement into a staging area in the garage of our old house. It was a major workout for him, with the obstacles of a narrow stairwell, doors in the way, and a hairpin turn at the top of the stairs.

Over several weeks, the garage filled. A hobby printing friend dismantled our 8x12 Chandler and Price press, 7x11 Pearl press, and Peerless Gem paper cutter for the move. We rented a truck, then a van to haul some of the paper, cuts, and type, then hired professional movers to do the rest.

Moving day came, and we hoped we were ready. Our four movers were big strong guys. They quickly set to work loading the shop and our entire household onto a moving van. The biggest challenge for them was getting our 8x12 C & P press up the stairs. Even stripped down, the press weighed some 500 pounds. I think the sound of it coming upstairs one step at a time (1-2-3... whump!) and shaking the entire house will haunt me for a long time.

Meanwhile at our new house, we had to plan what to put where in the new printshop. Armed with our many measurements and painter’s tape, we arranged and rearranged. We figured once something was in place, we weren’t about to go moving it! We divided our print shop into three areas: the main shop downstairs, a print studio upstairs for designing and proofing pieces, and a paper storage space in the utility room.

The movers arriving and the unloading began. We were amazed how smoothly it all went. Most of the type cases were moved from garage to garage.

Over the next few weeks, my husband Bob began hauling type cases into the new print shop. It was easier going down with a wider stairway. We arranged, rearranged, unpacked, and fiddled with the new shop and print studio. It was a challenge thinking of how to set up two locations to operate efficiently, and one we’re still fine-tuning.

But here's our new, red-carpeted print shop, complete with autumn mural, and our upstairs printing studio. We’re finally ready to print, after over three months of moving the shop. And we have promised ourselves NEVER to move again! But all in all, it went well. Hooray, Xanadu Press is up and running!