News from the centre of the Universe

dafi kuhne with his fag press

Dafi Kuhne is an artist and printmaker in Switzerland – at the heart of Mordor, so to speak, in terms of the FAG corporation.

We’ve been corresponding with Dafi for a few years now. Users of FAG machines tend to look out for each other and enjoy hearing that other FAGs are still trucking along, all around the world.

Dafi uses letterpress rather than offset, and he has created a website to celebrate the letterpress side of the FAG empire.

In his blog entry, which I’ve cut and pasted below, he kindly makes a concession to us, including our FAG OP-104 offset proofing press in his canon of classic heavy metal machines.

Dafi found and used the video below – which shows Dr Greg Turner, a big fan of the Big Fag, helping to print DJ Spooky‘s print Nauru Elegies.

(More info on the print with DJ Spooky here).

Cheers to you and your letterpress children, Dafi, from your lithographic brothers in Sydney.
– – –

Brothers in mind in Sydney, Australia
by Dafi Kuhne.

FAG did not only make letterpress cylinder proof presses but also flatbed offset proof presses. Already in 1972 (the same year they developed the Swiss Proof Presses!) they released their first offset proof press: The ‹FAG Offsetpress 7654›. In 1977 they released the bigger ‹FAG OP-104›, a 4.5 meters long, 3.5 tons heavy flatbed offset proof press in that could fit 70x100cm sheets. The press came with two interchangeable complete inking units including its motors and wash-up units. This inking system made 4 color proofs much easier and faster to handle, since the time consuming washing of there rollers is carried out outside the press. This massive press was a big success and sold to all five continents until the late 80ies.

New quality control tools and the first inkjet proof systems made the use of more expensive offset proofs obsolete and so FAG moved its efforts towards quality control in the aspect of all kinds of densitometers for offset production presses.

The point where this chapter about FAG offset proof presses ends is the point where the story of ‹Big FAG Press› in Sydney begins… In 2004 four artists from Sidney could buy an old FAG OP-104 for the nominal value of $50 at an auction.

They say on their webpage: «In 2004, one unfortunate printer in Sydenham (an inner-Sydney suburb) didn’t see this change coming, and went bust. The liquidation auction was very sad. Nobody wanted his equipment despite the large number of print professionals in the room. Instead, they just picked over the carcasses of his office furniture. Having received a tip off from our local Master Printer, Jens Hausch, Big Fag Press attended the auction and placed the winning (and only) bid on the big beautiful FAG 104 Offset Proof Press. Our bid was fifty dollars.»

You can see in the video that the offset plate is on the right side – laying flat. Then the cylinder (including the watering system and some ink rollers) rolls over the plate to the right side. With this process the rubber blanket on the cylinder picks up the ink. On its way back the rubber blanket applies the ink to the sheet laying flat on the left side. You can also see that the offset plate is not mirrored – of course, it’s offset! And even the guy in the video says: «Its magic!»

Until now, the www.proofpress.ch Webpage is limited to registrations of letterpress proof presses – but maybe soon be opened to studios/artists working with FAG flatbed offset proof presses…