The Story of My Printing Press

Winter of Artifice
Originally uploaded by Photo2217
Photo used by permission of Liz Cantu

Anais Nin wrote "The Story of My Printing Press" to describe the process of printing her own work on a foot-pedal operated platen printing press in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The resulting book, Nin's Winter of Artifice, was printed in an edition of 300 copies. "The Story of My Printing Press" is a fascinating examination of why an author might choose to print her own work and what it means when that limited edition book goes out into the world. Here's an excerpt:

"It was hard work. Patient work, to typeset prose, to lock the tray, to carry the heavy lead tray to the machine, to run the machine itself, which had to be inked by hand. Setting the copper plates (for the illustrations) on inch-thick wood supports in order to print them. Printing copper plates meant inking each plate separately, cleaning it after one printing, and starting the process over again. It took me months to typeset Under a Glass Bell and Winter of Artifice. Then there were the printed pages to be placed between blotters and later cut, put together for the binder and gathered into signatures. Then the type had to be redistributed in the boxes."