Doug got wind of free letterpress ink on Briar Press the day before yesterday. Several calls later we were given an address in Oakland and a code for a lock box. We were instructed to let ourselves in. The shop sign saying "Imprenta Ochoa’s" on one side and "Ochoa's Printer" on the other in cheerful chunky letters gave it the impression of being a very much occupied workhorse of a printing business, but after fiddling with the lock box and cracking the door open it was pure spooky abandonment-dark, despite the appearance of the photo below.
So out came the iPhone flashlights and we peered around. There were tools for moving and clean up. Strange how the last things left are the most anthropomorphic—a broom, so worn the bristles bent off at a wild angle, leaned exhausted against a door jam; a ruminating chair, a small table not sure how to let go of his life of formal service, there to the end. We didn’t see any ink. Most the machinery was gone but for some kind of camera that seemed pretty bombed out—got the sense it worked with carbon arc?
After I had blundered into a closet and washroom Doug called from a back room through a narrow hall where the ink hoard was amassed on a shelf and in boxes on the floor—our eyes opened wide-there must have been three hundred cans of letterpress ink! Of course the excitement was heightened by discovering the ink the way we did, in the abandoned shop in the gloom. It was like Howard Carter’s account of the first glimpses into King Tutankhamen tomb.
“At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist…[ink ink ink and ink!]”, Howard Carter, 1922
Also out back, scattered in mat of blackberry thicket, we found fistfuls of reglets and furniture. Thank You, Thank you, Thank you Ochoa's! We'll put it to good use and think of you. I'd love to know more about the establishment, if anyone knows.