Richard, pensive in the background, Martin holding a stereo.
What can I tell you?
Type metal is an alloy of antimony, tin and lead. This is what the type is made from.
However the type punch is made of harder material, usually steel, because it is worked and used to punch an impression on a copper matrix, into which the type metal will be poured.
There is a clever contraption that was invented in the 1500s to re cast type should you run out of letters.
You open it up and insert the copper matrix. You close it up and pour in the molten typemetal. Hey presto, here’s a letter.
You can see Roberta (left)pouring the molten material in. It takes about a third of a ladle. Mindy, on the right, has opened the mold.
What if you want to copy a whole block? You might want to sell your design to others. You can use the dabbing technique. I have a few videos on my Instagram. But it goes along these lines:
- Place molten typemetal in a small non-flammable dish
- Wait until it is nearly set
- dab the wood block in it.
The block should come out intact, and you have a positive from which you can then make many negatives.Hey presto.
So that’s about a block. What if you want to copy a whole plate? You can set it up in the chase and then take a copy of it with a flong.
Flong – that is a great Scrabble word. A flong is a large sheet composed of several damp pieces of paper, a bit like papier maché. You make an impression of the plate on this flong. After which you pour type metal over it, and you will get a negative from which you can make multiple copies. This saves wear and tear on the original.
You see Martin holding the papier maché flong. The blurry photo is because he was waving it around. Then at the bottom there is the newspaper version with its flong. The cyclinders on the table are the typecast flong used in machine printing (of newspapers).
It is amazing the sorts of things Richard and Martin found just lying out the workshop.