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The Aspen Press.

19th July 2014

There is currently no BPS Branch in East Anglia so for a while the Essex branch has had an extraterritorial member in the person of Pat Walker from Orford. On 19th July we were invited to visit her at the Aspen Press and seven of us ventured north over the border into Suffolk. Though apparently on the edge of nowhere, Orford is a busy tourist and second-homer hotspot on account of its picturesque architecture, mediaeval castle and nuclear early warning station. Consequently on a sunny Saturday morning the town square was crowded with cars and we were obliged to park at a distance and approach by the hidden back route, picking our way along a path through brambles and nettles to discover a surprisingly modern building of plate glass and stainless steel where we were welcomed by Pat and husband Roger, together with a new member, John Garrett, who is also from Suffolk and a talented woodcut artist.
Aspen Press
After tea and coffee we got down to a brief branch meeting, reviewing future plans and consolidating our ideas for the next Rosen Award entry. Following constructive criticism in Small Printer of our last effort, we resolved to be viligant against typpos. Looking around, we admired the elegant furnishings and the unobstructed view of a well-planned garden (while tactfully not mentioning the Seahenge­ style pagan altar at the centre of it) but wondered, where was the press? Pat led us into the garden, along a path through the foliage to reveal a second garden, invisible from the house, with a substantial wooden workshop full of treasures. This, in a secret garden behind a hidden house in a 'get away from it all' town, is her ultimate retreat — out of reach of phone signals and internet, where she can be uninterruptedly creative with an Adana 8-5 and a good selection of type.
Aspen Press
Aiming to pick the collective brains of the branch, Pat had laid out a few type identification puzzles and had some technical queries concerning her latest print job, wedding invitations for a friend. After pressing the handle down and listening to it squeak our combined decades of experience diagnosed a need of oil but apart from this the Aspen Press seems to be in perfect order, is well-equipped and promises some wonderful work. We were all envious of her garden shed workshop (especially previous occupant Roger) but were enticed back to the house by the promise of food.

Report by Alan Brignull - Photography Ron & Margaret Rookes