Watching Ink Dry

Drying Time on Drawers of Type Cabinets

Drying Time ©2013 Bo Mackison

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
~ John Quincy Adams

Another look at the letterpress room at Whispering Woodlands. Isn’t this an amazing sanctuary?

The cabinets, a half-dozen metal cabinets, aged, battered with hard use, and yet fully functional, even beautiful. Each cabinet holds dozens of trays of type — mostly lead type, but there is a bit of vintage wood type, too.  Type for 6 point to 60 point. Each tray in precise order, so the same motion that fetches a Capital T from one tray would find a Capital T of a different font in the same space in any other tray. It’s the tiny organizational things spread throughout the entire process that I find so appealing.

And yes, in a letterpress room filled with a cylinder press, and a wall full of cabinets and other necessities, the most convenient drying spaces for the just printed papers are on pulled out trays. The rubber based inks are slow drying, and dry by actual absorption into the paper instead of drying upon it. A full day process. They are lovely inks to work with – smooth, slightly opaque, and forgiving of a beginner’s practices.


Instructive Papers © 2013 Bo Mackison

“Finding a sanctuary, a place apart from time, is not so different from finding a faith.” ~ Pico Iyer

Truly, I do feel rather as if I am creating in a sanctuary – private, quiet. Just me and the letterpress, just the power from my arms and my body to turn the crank and “walk” the paper through the press. Then the process in reverse — walk back and crank in the opposite direction.

On this run, I did the words “SANCTUARY” and “LETTING GO” together, more because of the length of the words than the meanings. But I like the idea of working in my little printing room, repeating the same practice for each sheet of paper, while letting go of outside distractions, old conversations, difficult encounters, stinging words embedded in the subconsciousness. WOW! What a healing experience — running a letterpress.

Interesting that there is personal healing in the process, as I create this first edition of the Desert Wisdom Cards — cards which I hope will inspire self-discovery and inner healing in the people who work with them.


Bo Mackison is artist, photographer, book-maker, naturalist, poet, curator, and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Bo is learning the wonders of the cylinder letterpress, and also experiencing personal healing in the process, as she prints the Desert Wisdom Cards.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I am looking forward to seeing and holding the final product. How thrilling!

  2. Looks like a creativity playground of sorts. I do think I would enjoy this place.

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