Printer's Devils, Apprentices, Journeymen
|That's me in green at top right (c. 2008)|
I completed the free workshops offered at my alma mater, Washington College, and continued working in the Print Shop just for fun my last year of undergrad. I even occasionally came back to work on projects of my own or to help with what ever Lit House Press printing projects I happened to walk in on (that sounds a bit more scandalous than it ever actually was). Then, I got my own press at home and have been operating that for a year now as Thread Lock Press (for which I've had two commissions thus far, and another in the works).
So, during my first real day at the new job, settling into my well-windowed office in The Rose O'Neill Literary House, I was looking through the files in the file cabinets, trying to make myself better acquainted with the lay of the paperwork. I stumbled upon a manila folder labeled "History." In this folder I found a packet of square photos of the first Print Shop move-in day, featuring dark-haired versions of professors and teachers whom I had only ever known with gray and silvered heads. Behind this group of pictures, I found an old, much-folded piece of paper laying out the hierarchy of the Literary House Press. Here it is in its entirety:
"OF PRINTERS DEVILS, APPRENTICES, AND JOURNEYMEN
The system of promotion for Washington College students who are interested in working on the O'Neill Literary House Press is taken from the ancient Printers Guild. Although in the printing profession it would often take as many as seven years to go from Printers Devil to Journeyman, good students of the press can earn their key to the press (by which it can be operated) in a year. Not that you'll be a great printer in that time, but at least you'll be a safe printer; and, with some patience on your part, a decent job printer. Our procedure is as follows:
1. Beginning students (Printers Devils) enroll in The Press Workshop taught by a Master Printer where they learn something about the history and craft of letterpress printing. Typically workshops start two weeks after the semester begins and last until two weeks before final week. Workshops meet twice a week for two hours in the evening. The workshop demands dependable attendance and requires patience with tedious tasks, but for interested students is it great fun.[sic]
2. Printers Devils become Apprentices when they successfully complete the Press Workshop. Apprentices are then expected to complete a second semester of job printing--assisting the Master Printer with such Writers Union projects as chapbooks, Broadsides, and posters. Normally, the Master Printer will assign one or two apprentices for each job, and the Apprentice will see the job through to completion. In general, Printers Devils are expected to complete their Apprenticeship in the semester following the Press Workshop.
3. On the recommendation of the Master Printer, Apprentices become Journeymen Printers, and as such have full rights and privileges and obligations pertaining to the Literary House press, including a key to press.[sic] Journeymen are expected to run specified jobs for the Writers Union and in doing so earn the right to run approved job work for their own pleasure or profit. Journeymen printers will be paid a modest wage for all their work. They are also expected to assist the Master Printer in training the Apprentices.
Such is the system of Printing and Press Workshops at the O'Neill Literary House at Washington College. Students who are interested--and they need not be writers or members of the Writers Union--should contact Kathy Wagner, Director of the Washington College Press at her office in the O'Neill Literary House."Cool, huh? So I think, by such standards, I can call myself a Journeyman. Makes me feel like I should dust off my passport and just go. Anywhere.
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