This morning I was finally called in to witness the beginning of the offset print run for the 101 Vagina book, after lots of time spent poring over proofs and making adjustments to images etc. Not to mention over two years of working on the project.
Even though there have been so many things I have experienced in the duration of this project that I could not have foreseen, when I printed the first-draft copy on my own printer I realised that my vision was being birthed exactly the way I had initially envisioned it :)
So, it was with great pleasure that I was able to visit the printer and see the first pages come whizzing off the press. And whiz they do! It easily pumps out 200 pages per minute of A1 size pages. These pages are then folded and cut, but that’s the next chapter.
The Heidelberg press (made in Germany :) with the control panel at the left and output area on the right.
The screen has all the aluminium plate files and information at fingertip reach.
The pages come whizzing off the press at a rapid rate.
The press operator checks the pages that come off the press against the proofs for colour density.
Like a big audio mixing desk, he adjusts the ink levels to keep the tonal depth accurate.
Ink levels can be minutely adjusted in many sections, represented by each of the vertical lines on the display.
And the pages of the first section start to pile up.
After the first plate is run it’s time to change the plates. One for the top of the page and one for the bottom. The press prints to top and bottom in a single pass.
A factory worker checks out the work on his way past, the book has created a bit of a buzz in the building. I feel heartened that he doesn’t just oogle at the photos but spends his time carefully reading one of the messages.
And the second section piles up!
And here is a little video of the final book binding process.