The Rose O'Neil Literary House is where all the literary and cultural happenings go on at Washington College. With a cup of tea in hand you can walk around the house filled to the brim with books and jammed pack with broadsides of all the famous authors who have stopped by the house through the Sophie Kerr program for years. There's a kitchen, a garden, a classroom on the porch where I've had Foundations of Western Lit and Creative Process, and a ceiling painted with authors stringed together in a 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon way.
Now as wonderful as this house is, I know I do not use it to it's full potential. In fact, the only time I really ever enter the house is for class or for a class project. Well, the King Lear video I filmed had me investigating the greatest resource available to the literary house, the antique printing press. Master printer, Michael Kaylor, was printing out 75 special broadsides for the play and one of my partner's Maisie and I, made our way down into the depths of the workshop to see Mike in action.
We were there to film, we didn't plan on interviewing him, but he wound up explaining his entire process to us. He set up the machine, slapped on the ink and would run the paper through the machine as he cranked the wheel. He'd pull it out and remark that the print was either too inked or too dry. Mike would then take the paper out, measure it, and go back to the machine and adjust. He also insisted on not filming any of the "before" prints that did not qualify for the final 75. The man is a master and his work certainly reflects it.
Soon the prints were cranking out one after the other. Maisie and I enjoyed the experience, seeing and learning the process we had taken the time to watch before. The end result was fantastic, an old illustration of King Lear and the Fool paired with the poem "On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again" by John Keats.
I enjoyed myself so much, I might want to take one of these workshop classes one day. I'm glad I got to take advantage of a resource I had long forgotten.