Rice University showcased the newly acquired star-wheel copper-plate rolling press replica that famous Romantic poet and artist William Blake used to produce his masterworks this week at the Woodson Research Center in Fondren Library.
Renowned Blake scholar and printmaker Michael Phillips visited Rice’s campus to assemble the press, which arrived in pieces, with help from the Facilities Engineering and Planning team. The press was then debuted to the public, as well as a literature class of English professor Alexander Regier's, who interacted with the press and produced prints with Phillips.
The historically-accurate replica crafted by Phillips will not only compliment the library’s extensive holdings on Blake, but serve as an interactive research tool for Rice and the public.
“It’s really amazing to be able to imagine being back in time and seeing the kind of labor that (Blake) went through to produce these things that now we think of as just ubiquitous,” said Nina Cook, an English graduate student at Rice who was present for a demo of the press by Phillips.
“We can go to the library and get a facsimile of ‘Songs of Innocence and of Experience,’ but learning how few there actually were, the labor that goes into it and how much they were loved at the time – I think that’s really something that I’m going to take away with me today.”
(Photos by Jeff Fitlow)