Josna Rege

305. Bed

In blogs and blogging, Books, Stories, Words & phrases, Work, writing on April 2, 2015 at 10:25 pm


The bed of a press, that is. In letterpress printing, the bed of a cylinder press is the flat horizontal surface on which the type is laid. After the type has been set, it is leveled and locked firmly in place on the bed. The rollers are inked, the impression is adjusted, and printing can begin.




Anyone who has worked on a big project, especially one with a deadline, is eager to put it to bed. The expression comes from the production process in printing and publishing. Of course, when the work of the writers, editors, graphic designers, typesetters, and layout artists is done, and both they and the print job are cozily tucked into bed, the printer’s work is only just beginning.

I can’t let the letter B go by without a nod to three serif typefaces:


Baskerville, (a transitional typeface—in-between classical and modern—designed in 1757)

Bembo (a twentieth-century Monotype revival of a fifteenth-century typeface)



Bodoni (a series of modern typefaces designed in the late eighteenth century and “embodying the rational thinking of the 7548Enlightenment”). When I worked at the Godine Press and later with our own Whetstone Press, we lived for typography and fine printing; I’ve fallen out of touch with it these many years, but it all comes back as I thrill to the style and balance of these letters.

And now my deadline looms and it’s time to put this project to bed.

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

atoz [2015] - BANNER - 910

  1. Nice.Enjoying your A-Z start to April.the creativity always entertaining.

    • Thank you, Asghar, and thank you for your email. Now it’s my turn to apologize for the late response. (Last novel in the Ibis Trilogy due out this year–looking forward to it.)

  2. Love these three typefaces for their beauty and their sense of dependability; the last illusory I know but perception is all. I’m sure there must be a psychology of font styles…

    • A psychology of font styles–I’d like to read that book! Even when I write an email the typeface in which I decide to send it matters. Dependability is the right word. A typeface like Baskerville does evoke tradition and permanence (however illusory, as you say), even as it acknowledges change. Thank you for visiting. I always enjoy reading your comments.

  3. Great post, Josna. Love the photos!

    • Thank you, Linda. Yes, I’m having fun visiting numerous site in search of illustrations. They’re not my own, but in most cases if you click on them you will be taken to the website where I found them.

  4. Things are changing. The romance of the printing presses is almost lost in the print on demand world that we live in now. Everything that used to be fades away as new ways to do things emerge.

    • You’re quite right, Mary, and I don’t mean to wallow in nostalgia. It is natural to specialized vocabulary to die out or take on new meanings. Still, even if printed text is becoming a specialized niche market typography is very much alive, albeit in new media. For me, there’s nothing like the pleasure and feel of holding a letterpress-printed and beautifully designed book in my hands. And I thought that it might be enlightening to younger readers especially to read of the origins of some of our vocabulary in the printing industry.Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment; this is such fun!

  5. “Putting it to bed.” Fascinating Josna. Such an interesting post.

  6. I belong to a printmakers group and they give classes in letterpress and they are always full. I’ve never done letterpress, I do intaglio, collagraph, seriograph. I did used to know how to run a little ab dick offset press. Letterpress seems so romantic, with the handling of the letters and everything.

    • I had noticed on your website that you were a printmaker, Kristin, and had wondered about it. Do they have their own studio space so that you can go there and work? I have heard of intaglio, but can’t say what it is, Must look up all three processes.
      I suppose letterpress printing is romantic, but it’s also a dirty business. The type is usually made of lead (we had to scrub our hands thoroughly after handling it), and the solvents used to clean the presses are bad news. There are “green” inks available nowadays, though, and alternative cleaning chemicals.

  7. What an awesome theme for the challenge! I love printing presses.

    2015 A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Matthew MacNish from The QQQE

  8. Typeface is so interesting and beautiful. I learned a lot from your post–thanks for a good read!

    Lorrie at

    • Thank you, Lorrie. Glad you found it interesting. At this point I’m wondering how I can possibly stay with this theme all the way to Z. Thank you for visiting. Now I will visit your blog!

  9. Delighted to find this project in full swing. Beautiful!

  10. Interesting post, I wouldn’t have known that’s where the expression was coming from.

    • Thank you for visiting, Linda. I’m glad you didn’t know about the expression “putting [a project] to bed” before, because that is one of the reason I chose this theme–to show how many words and phrases come from printing. Of course, now that so much of the printed word is becoming digital. all this vocabulary is dying out, which is a natural process, I suppose.

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