28 March 2011
Down a cobbled lane, was a magical adventure...
On the weekend, we visited the most magical and inspiring place that Leaff - or I - have ever discovered. Hidden away down a cobbled little lane in Ledbury, is a wondrous place by the name of Tilley Printing, which transports you back in time.
From the antiqued little sign fixed to the wall at the entrance to the lane, we were given a subtle clue to how special this place was going to be. We carefully walked over the uneven cobbles of the quaint little lane, unsure of where it would lead us to. Creeping along with wide and excited eyes, I turned my head to see another weathered sign, signifying the entrance. We had arrived!
Slowly and carefully, we mounted the steep little steps. As we approached the door, we were greeted by a jolly faced gentleman, by the name of Martin. With long white hair, black inky hands and a gentle, kind face, he welcomed us in. And so the adventure took full swing.
Stepping into the worn out building was like being in a time warp. Hundreds of years old, it told it's age so well. With flakey walls, old beams overhead and the most enormous cobwebs I have ever seen, it was full of character that seemed almost unreal. I will say it was cold and dark, because it was, but these were the things that made it special, and at the same time it was so unbelievably cosy. The soft lights that glowed here and there made it feel so magical. Martin apologetically commented on the mess, and I threw it back - it was just perfect the way it was.
The room was packed with old furniture that was crammed full of the most amazing old letterpress materials. Off this room branched other little quirky rooms, some higher, some lower and each with old wooden steps that I felt could give way at any moment. The creaky floors, the nooks and crannies, all just added and added to the character. I was in my element!
We oohed and ahhhed over the hundreds of letterforms, plates, and equipment that Martin showed us. We marvelled over the architecture of the building and how long it had all been there. My favourite room might have been where all of the actual letterpress machines sat, and one particularly magnificent beast - the Heidelberg letterpress. As you can see in the picture, it is a beautiful piece of machinery - German made, as the name suggests. I love it's dark metal, mixed with the bright shiny silver - and the smell of the ink.
Martin is a master of his trade. It isn't just a job to him, it is his passion - a feeling that is so familiar to me. I could see it in the way that he talked about it, on the ink stained hands that he shook mine with, and I could feel it in the very walls that surrounded me. I really felt connected to him and his work, and I struggled to leave, feeling the most inspired that I have felt in a very long time - or maybe even ever.
Needless to say, I hope that we have just begun a very long and special relationship with a lovely man and his magical workshop.