When I first saw a Heidelberg Windmill operate, all I could think was, “Wow, that’s LOUD.” Whenever the press was turned off, a collective sigh of relief would escape from everyone in the studio. No more whooshing arms or pumping pistons, just sweet quiet. So you can imagine the “crap” that involuntarily echoed in my head when I heard I was to print on this machine. “The scalper”, as I now fondly call it, was to be my next lesson in humility.
Although a real job press such as a windmill does not build up the bicep muscles that a Vandercook proof press might, it requires a lot of physical and mental awareness. At least for a beginner like me. If you zone out at all, you could easily end up mis-printing a whole stack of paper. I will kindly refrain for the sake of the tree-hugger in all of us how much paper I reluctantly tossed into the recycle bin my first few print runs. I quickly learned that when in doubt, take the press off impression. A large number of those mis-prints were due to printing on the tympan and having a ghost print on the back of the following pieces. Also, learning to feed the paper through the press is half the battle. It all seems too much to learn at first, but if it was too easy then too many people would want to do it, and the really good printers, not being faced with a challenge, might see fit to move on to more difficult things.
As for me, I’ve decided to take the Heidelberg challenge. There’s something just downright satisfying about getting the impression just right, or seeing that business card you designed come together, crisp and clean. Besides, I think I’m starting to like the whooshing even better than the silence.
Liz Merolla, Apprentice