An Uncommon Press

This is a 10″ square laser cut wood sculpture that I created to celebrate a part of print history. The Common Press would have been the type of press that Benjamin Franklin printed on. We have come a long way technologically since the days of the common press, but in moving forward it sometimes appears that we have lost something human in what we mass produce. That is not always a bad thing, but it is something that we should keep in mind. There is a tactile difference in something produced by hand on a press such as this versus something produced via a completely mechanized process like offset printing. This piece has been created using modern technology (a computer for designing and creating all of the layers, a laser cutter for cutting out all of he pieces) but it has also been created by hand (started as a sketch, brought to life by staining the individual pieces and gluing them together) and therefore has some imperfections. These imperfections bring out the humanity in the work – a subtle reminder that there is a case to be made for balance between human and machine.

The piece is made out of 7 layers of laser-cut wood plus the frame which was mitered and routed. Each layer has solid engraved areas as well as textured engraved areas. I used Josef Beery’s illustration of The Principal Parts of the Common Press as the starting point for the design.