After much back-and-forth (my fault entirely), I now have an appointment to meet with Monica at MCBA, where she will give me a lesson on the Kelsey 5 x 8 platen-press. She's also kindly emailed me a pdf of an original Kelsey manual, so I can piece together my crated mess upstairs.
And I've begun the slow process of ordering supplies. Monica will email me a price list of her available materials, but I've begun to stock up on a few things:
I now have motivation to bring the press to working order: this weekend, in trade for time on the press, Shawn Hebrank (husband of one of my friends in the MFA program) gave me one of the most striking tattoos.
That's it just after, so it looks awfully red and painful, but several days later, and it's healing nicely, feeling a bit like a sunburn.
I've been doing some research and found this is a good site to start a checklist from, and my husband has claimed the right to be the first to order a set of type for me and found this as an excellent resource.
Halloween weekend, there is a platen press class at the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, but my husband is standing up in a good friend's wedding in Wisconsin, so I will miss out, but I did email the instructor and she said she'd give me a private lesson; I just need to email her back and set up a time.
Perhaps the press will be up and rolling in time to make a few holiday gifts, though the priority just now is to get Shawn on the press. Of course, the priority really is to let me fumble through some things before I show him the ropes; I'd prefer not to be so wobbly, particularly since he is an artist who already does a great deal of screen-printing work.
It looks like I've found what some consider the "perfect" starter press--a Kelsey 5 x 8. I found mine online, and am grateful that it was a tabletop platen press--we have no where to put anything larger (no matter how much I might have fallen for that Vandercook we learned on in letterpress class).
I've also joined the Ladies of Letterpress. It seems to be a fairly quiet social networking site, but I plan to use it, in conjunction with Briar Press's wealth of information to transfer what I've learned on the Vandercook to the Kelsey. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that MCBA will eventually offer a class on platen presses.
I think, sometimes, about the ways in which image + word can converge. This weekend, an introduction to letterpress, where I fell in love with the Vandercook, vehemently sought my own platen press, made my first two broadsides and greeting cards, and was taught by the hugely patient and ever-charming Regula Russelle at MCBA.