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We live in an era when designers can knock up a poster design, hit print and have a stack of them within hours. So it’s pretty mind-blowing to take a step back in time and have a go at some traditional printing methods. I did just that today at the Penrith Printing Museum. I participated in their poster making course. For just $75 you can design and print your own letterpress poster. Our instructor for the day was Steve, who had a wealth of knowledge on printing and print processes.

The Museum itself is a nondescript shed on the grounds of the Penrith Paceway, who graciously donate the space for them to use.
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They’ve got a range of historical printing machines, and their aim is to use them all and share them with people. Pictured below is the mind blowing ‘Linotype’. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a fully automated machine that allows the operator to make lines of newspaper text for printing. Except it casts those lines from molten lead as you type, using individual moulds for each letter or character, and then recycles the moulds for use again. All self automated. And the molten lead is about 500 degrees.
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I was there to use a letterpress though. And for that you need letters. Lots of letters. Thankfully the Museum has heaps of letters. Though we were warned they they didn’t have all the letters for each font, which means sometimes you just had to get creative. This is about a quarter of their letter collection.
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The next step was to mock up our design. Using a selection of timber letters I came up with this. Of course it has to be backwards so it prints the right way!
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After doing this, you have to fill in all of the gaps! Not just loosely mind you, each gap has to be filled to millimetre precision. There are spacers of both timber and lead to do this.
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These close up shots show the spacers, as well as the expanding cams which open to keep everything in place.
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And this is part of the reason why everything needs to be in so tight. Once you have created your design, you need to pick it and move it with nothing falling out! Also everything needs to be held in tight so it doesn’t move in the actual printing process.
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Once the letters had been checked to make sure they were flat, it was time for the first test print.
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Overall it was okay, but as you can see some of the letters didn’t give a full print. You have to remember some of these letters are around a hundred years old – try getting that lifespan out of your inkjet printer!
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The course runs with just two students at a time. Here we see Steve with the other student doing some ‘Moody Blues’ gig posters for a gig he went to years ago. You can see his design is a lot cleaner and more classsical than mine. That’s the cool thing about getting to design your own to your own taste.11
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Here we see my run of posters drying out. You’ll notice that most of the letters have printed better than the original pass. To remedy the faults, I had to loosen the locking cams, take out the individual letters and paste a slither of paper to the back to raise the height of the letter. It was pretty amazing to think this machine was so precise, the difference between a bad print and a good one was as fine as adding a piece of paper to the back of a letter! I also swapped a few letters around to make some backwards and some upside down to further enhance that imperfect look. If I wanted something perfect I’d print it from a computer!
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All loaded up and ready to come home!
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And a final shot before I stick it on the fridge to show off. Down the track I’ll chose one of the better examples and get it framed professionally, as a unique piece of art with a cool story behind it.
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Formally Mitchell Road Auctions, the Mitchell Road Emporium is still a great place to check out for great antiques and collectables. Overall downstairs is a fairly messy collection, the kind of place where it feels a bit like an adventure. Prices are good, but you generally have to make an effort to look for things. One area that has grown since their changes is their selection of pre-loved mid century furniture. Upstairs are the more formal vendors, where everything is laid out much better, but the prices aren’t as cheap. Well worth checking out if you’re in the area. Here’s a few things that caught my eye when we visited a few weeks ago.

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Interstate road trips necessitate food roulette every time you stop for a meal. Maybe a servo pie? God knows how long that bucket of salmonella has been gestating in the warmer. What about a McKentucky something? Sure it’ll be quick, and the quality is reliable, but that quality is low. How about a local cafe? Yeh good luck with that. First you’ve got to find one, then who knows how good the food is, or how long that will take. Our best experience was cannelloni which was served still frozen in the centre! If you can’t even microwave food properly, maybe you should try a different profession.

So we were stoked to stumble across the Long Track Pantry at Jugiong a while back. It’s nice and easy to find and get a park, and is only minutes from the highway. The place is decked out with a rustic vibe, selling a range of handmade preserves as well as their food. The food by the way is fantastic, with an ever-changing blackboard menu depending on what fresh food they’ve got. We’ve stopped in for lunch on the way somewhere, and stopped in a few days later on the way home and there was a number of different dishes. The service is quick too. We’ve stopped in on a long weekend and it was seriously packed, and the food still came out in a reasonable time. One of the hidden gems of the Hume. We passed few a couple of weeks ago and I got some pics. Lunch was an old school curry, and it was great sitting there in the winters sun looking at a quiet paddock with cows grazing.

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If you’re ever in the gorgeous alpine town of Bright in Victoria, you should check out the Coral Lee cafe. First of all it’s pretty cool, with its dash of 50s kitsch decor, like their vintage ceramics which are used for hot drinks. Secondly, and more importantly, their food and coffee is awesome!

My fiance is a self-confessed coffee snob, and searches out the best java whenever we’re somewhere new. She gave these guys the double thumbs up, which is a big call for her. Personally I was blown away by their banana muffins. The mix was one of the lightest and fluffiest muffins I’ve had in years, intermixed with small chunks of mushy banana. All topped off with a crusty top sprinkled with raw sugar. So damn good!

Check them out if you’re ever in Bright, pop into 8 Barnard Street and check them out.

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www.walkingmelbourne.com

One of the coolest buildings we stumbled across on our recent visit to Melbourne was the Manchester Unity Building. Inspired by the Chicago Tribune building, it was ahead of its time in Australia and the tallest building in Melbourne when it was built in 1932.

To understand, how amazing it was for its time, read this excerpt from www.walkingmelbourne.com (and remember this was 1932):
For those of you who like numbers, 1700 tons of cement were poured around 800 tons of structural steel into nine acres of form-work and braced with 450 tons of reinforcing. The cladding added up to 400 tons of terracotta ‘faience’ work. Some 10,000 panes of glass were fitted into 900 steel window frames, and 33 miles of electric wire conveyed power to 2500 lamps. A stunning 1,900,000 mosaic pieces are in the floors and the lift lobby, and 125 tons of marble were used for decoration. The main body of the building rose to the regulation 132 feet and the tower rose another 78 feet.

Not only did this building contain the first escalators in Melbourne, it also had the first 150 horsepower back-up diesel generator in Australia in case of power failure. As far as I know, it also had the first tower café and roof garden in Melbourne. It was air-conditioned, had double windows on the first five floors for noise reduction, had a suction chute rubbish removal system from every floor, and it came with a self-contained apartment for the resident caretaker.

More information can be found at www.manchesterunitybuilding.com.au, which is where we found the pictures below (and there’s a stack more).

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Melbourne is well known for being the cultural capital of Australia, so its no surprise that it has a thriving alternative culture as well. One of the best examples of this is the awesome street art culture. So when we went to Melbourne recently, it was one of my priorities to check out.

The way our schedule worked out, we had a single day to see as much of the CBD as we could. Hardly ideal, but sometimes you just have to make the most of what you’ve got. We got a Melbourne laneway walking tour map for free, which takes you through some of the great spots the city is famous for. The cool thing is you can amble along at your own pace, and there’s plenty of options for lunch and other treats along the way.

The laneway tour actually doesn’t take in street art, which is kind of funny. Our accommodation pointed us in the direction of Hosier Lane, which is the most well known street art laneway and right near Federation Square. The quality of the art is awesome too, with some amazing images.

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The nice surprise of the walking tour was the vintage clothing shops which it passed or were nearby. We visited both Retrostar and Out of the Closet. and both had an awesome range of clothes and styles with heaps of stock. Both are kind of hidden, so look up their locations before you go.

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And Out of the Closet.
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I’m pretty freaking excited to share these amazing pictures with you. I mean it’s not often you get the chance to do a photo shoot with your gorgeous fiance, a biplane, a bunch of cool vintage items, all shot by a fantastic photographer.

This story actually started a few years back when I met a girl on a forum. We talked online for a few months, and even though we lived interstate, I was pretty smitten. A friend was having a luau in Brisbane, and that was just the excuse I needed to fly up and meet this girl. Well it went pretty well, and for the next two years we did the long distance relationship thing. Our trips were coordinated around rockabilly gigs and hot rod shows in our respective states. Not to mention going for drives, hitting vintage stores, riding our cruiser bikes and just being dorks with each other. When she finished her degree, she made the gutsy call to move away from her family to Sydney. Needless to say it’s worked out great, and another couple of years down the track we’re engaged.

Our wedding photographer is the talented Jonathan from Jonathan David Photography. As part of his standard package he includes an ‘engagement shoot’. Basically it’s a chance for him to get to know us, and us to get to know him. This way on the wedding day we’re feeling relaxed and comfortable, which means less stress and better photos. As you can see the quality of his work speaks for itself.

For our shoot we wanted something that reflected our love of dusty and rusty old stuff, but also the many hours we spent travelling over those two years of long distance relationship. We were incredibly lucky to find Roy and Primrose Fox, and their B & B ‘The Missions 1937‘. Located at Wisemans Ferry, it’s a luxurious B & B and we highly recommend a stay. Their hospitality was fantastic, not to mention Prim’s cooking! And they were more than accommodating for us to do our shoot with their plane. The plane in question by the way is a DH 82a Tiger Moth, which was used extensively as a pilot trainer. All of the props we bought at various swap meets and vintage stores.

A massive thank you to Roy and Prim, Jono and Britt, and Jen for all your help in making these amazing shots happen. You guys are all awesome!

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