Friday, February 28, 2014

Maginating's Humble Beginnings

For those of you who might be interested in our Origin Story, here's a little ditty about how Maginating began…

Back in 2005 I was at a restaurant in Los Angeles with my sister (BTW - the restaurant is Clementines - believe me, it's worth mentioning). Fortunately, she suggested I check out the shop next door... thought I’d think it was pretty cool. Turned out it was Sugar Paper, a letterpress company who, at the time, specialized in their own stunning custom letterpress. This included a storefront as well, selling an amazing assortment of letterpress cards. It blew me away - I’d never seen anything like it before! One of the owners was in the shop that day and was very kind – she was happy to answer all my questions.  

About six months later I was fortunate enough to meet Bob Paduano – a master of all things letterpress. Bob had been in the business a long time and, eventually, was able to find and restore a Kluge 10x15 platen press for me.  This is an amazing press and, in my opinion, much better than the C&P equivalent. A couple features I really like on the Kluge, compared with the C&P, are:

- Kluge has six rollers
- ink disc can move up and down which really helps with cleanup
- has an ink fountain
- the cast iron bits are much thicker which = more robust (though I doubt you could do much damage to any platen press!)

Here's the unrestored version - yikes!

At the time I was doing freelance design work so, for about a year, whenever I had a spare moment, I worked down in the garage – trying to figure out this big hunk of cast iron. I never took any classes. I would have but wasn't able to find any that taught printing on a platen press. It seems that, for safety reasons, classes are most often taught on Vandercooks or very tiny table top presses. So I kept looking online for answers, spoke with all sorts of helpful and generous printers, read books - anything I could do to learn how to print well. It took some time but eventually my knowledge base grew to a point where I was able to get going at an operable speed.

Behold... a restored Kluge!

This went on for about a year until it got to a point where I realized that if I was going to create a greeting card company, I needed to commit myself, one-hundred-percent. So I did! I stopped taking on any freelance work and dedicated all my time to printing and building a card line. A pretty significant leap, somewhat blind, but something I felt was necessary.

 The Kluge arrives at our garage.

 Maginating's first "studio" (aka the garage) thanks goodness we were in Los Angeles at the time - no heating in there!

 On the bottom R corner of this image you can see a bit of my first print job - a wedding invitation for a friend. How crazy is that - a wedding invitation?! Please, don't be dumb like me, do anything other than a wedding invitation (and map and RSVP card and corresponding envelopes) for your first print job!

On the top R corner of this image you can see three cans of ink: Sage, Black, and Egg White (those are the names for our house colors). That's all I had - three colors! Just enough for the job. And it was rubber based ink. Maginating's cards were printed with that for a very long time.