I learned design doing paste-up. My favorite memory of doing it is the night we were rushing to get the paper out so we could get to the bar, and I dropped an S. Like, a tiny cut-out of the letter S that needed to be dabbed with hot wax (I still have the burn scars) and stuck on the end of a word. We all froze and scoured the ground until somebody found it.


16 thoughts on “Aww

  1. So is that a hint that we can discuss things like the new site design experiments that I’ve been seeing over the past hour or so?
    I kinda liked the one with the two small columns on the right…

  2. So is that a hint that we can discuss things like the new site design experiments that I’ve been seeing over the past hour or so?
    I kinda liked the one with the two small columns on the right…

  3. OK – here’s a site redesign suggestion – let somebody posting delete their own dupes…

  4. Michael, I liked the idea of it but the problem was that if you made the columns wide enough to fit the content (200p or so) then the main column looked smushed and the content there got overshadowed by all the other stuff. So I set it back to 3. Which is when it began rearranging various modules ALL BY ITSELF. It seems to have stopped that now. The live chicken sacrifice seems to be working.
    This would be much simpler if I could just cut it up with a knife and glue it together properly.

  5. It always seemed like the waxer would take the opportunity to eat copy at the worst possible time; honest to god, it was like it had a actual mind in there floating in the melted wax.
    Dozens and dozens of strips of copy (each of them laboriously cut out by yours truly) fed through just fine until the printer ran out of toner or the computer with all the copy on it locked up and wouldn’t connect any more. At which time the waxer would seize a strip of copy and drag it down into the depths like some screaming blonde whose ankle has been grabbed and is being pulled under a bed and into hell. A person could try to squeegee off most of the wax, but the paper was always saturated.
    And there was always the important legal notice that fell on the floor and got stuck to the bottom of somebody’s shoe. And don’t even get me started on those CompuGraphic Headliners with no monitor screen where you typed in the headline copy and hoped for the best as the thing spit out strips of developed photo paper. And then in a rush you’d paste up “Pubic Notice” instead of “Public Notice” before going home smelling like developer and spotted from head to toe with wax. Ah…those were the days!

  6. An old timer editor I worked for use to tell the story of genuflecting at Mass, not realizing the word KOTEX was stuck to the bottom of his shoe

  7. Hee hee. And who among us does not cop to making waxing (aka bloviating) jokes– whilst hitting the toggle on the waxer? God I wish I had one now. You could run a couple of sheets of trace through it, slap down the fall leaves you’d collected on your way to work that morning, add the other layer, burnish, and viola– instant preserved beautiful yellow ginko leaves.

  8. Pansypoo, we still use whiteout at the museum where I volunteer, but not to actually white anything out. We put it down as a base to write accession numbers on stuff because it’s removable. A museum credo, which works for much of life, is not to do anything that you can’t un-do.
    I’ve got a half-dozen bottles stashed, along with a bottle of whiteout thinner I found at a garage sale, just in case. I always seem to hear “Last Train to Clarksville” rattling around in my head when I get a bottle out to use.

  9. For the life of me, I’m astounded that in 2009 anyone was using manual paste-up for something as large and complex as a newspaper. I feel the twinge of regret at the old ways going out of style, but dear God I was on the front lines of the transition to digital, working in color pre-press shops over 15 years ago. Even my film-setting and handling skills are antiquated (what with imposition and direct-to-plate not really coming into their own until after I’d left the print business), I can’t imagine what the paste-up folks at the U-T are going to feel like.

  10. Ah the paste-up wax. I was photo editor at NIU in 1989 and we had to paste-up our own images, with 1 pt. borders, along with all the captions. We *never* trusted the production people to do it correctly. If it got fracked up, at least we knew where to place blame.
    So many burned fingertips. And the daily threats of, “FOR GOD”S SAKE TURN IT OFF WHEN YOU’RE DONE!!

  11. OMG, I remember paste-up.
    It was a pride thing with me that I could send copy to the backshop and have it come out within 4 lines of the length of the hole on the page.
    That way I never had to worry about having a graf get chopped in the wrong place.
    But then there was the time I confused the leads on a pair of girls’ b-ball stories …
    as late as the late 1980s, waxers were da bomb in backshops.
    Does anybody use plates anymore?

  12. The Other Sarah: Yep; weeklies all over the country. The weekly chain I retired from in 2008 is still using pasteup with a growing volume of pagination. They’ve still got a darkroom, too!

  13. Ahh, paste-up. I could do things with rubylith, an X-Acto knife, a china marker and a proportion wheel that the designers and programmers who eventually created Photoshop never even dreamed of. I still have most of my design projects from the early 1990s, all of them done with wax backs on blueline boards, and compared to what we can do today with computers, it’s kind of like looking at an ancient temple and thinking, “How the hell did they get all those marble blocks stacked like that?” Today’s generation of designers are missing out on a fantastic experience in which the final printed project was truly a creation, one that we put together by hand, one element at a time. The last time I did paste-up was in 1996 at a commercial printer. Everything since then has been computer-ready, straight to film or plate. Sure, it’s easier, but it’s a lot less glamorous.

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