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11 January, 2013

Thank you to everybody who bought our 2013 ‘Tools of the Trade’ Calendar. We really enjoyed putting it together and found it fascinating to see some of the tools which are used to make our favourite products. However we didn’t have space on the calendar to explain exactly what these tools were - so here we present the first in a series of twelve blogposts about our Tools of the Trade.

Our first set of tools are used to produce one of our most popular products; our Letter Postcards.

Each one is handprinted by Chrissie and Vicky in 'The Corridor’, their narrow workshop in Tufnell Park, North London - at 1.2metres wide ( or 244 pica ems ), it is just wide enough to pull out a case of type.

From this workshop, using their collection of Adana presses sourced from all around the country, Harrington and Squires produce our cards alongside their own range of printed material, including cards, bookmarks, badges and magnets, as well as offering a bespoke design and printing service.

“The name Harrington and Squires is a homage to Bob Harrington and Horace Squires, ex-compositors and letterpress tutors at Hornsey College of Art in the late 60s and early 70s, and it conveys the bespoke quality of our work.”

The first Tool of the Trade is a sample of Gill Sans Titling wooden type. As used on our cards, this classic typeface has been used by Penguin Books, LNER, the BBC and Labour and Wait. Gill Sans is these days seen as a short-cut to mid-century Britishness, but we first loved it for its clean, clear lines and its quiet typographical authority.

Next to the type we have the Cornerstone quoin key and under that an 8x5 Adana chase, which is the frame in which type is secured or locked up ready for printing. The type is padded out with furniture ( pieces of wood or metal ) and tightened up with the quoin, which is a locking device to keep all the items in position in the chase.

And finally next to the quoin and chase we have a tin of rubber based ink and a roller for inking up the type ready for printing.

All of these tools are used together by Chrissie and Vicky to make our Letter Postcards.

For those who would like to learn more, Harrington and Squires run letterpress workshops to introduce the art and technique of typesetting and printing. 

Our thanks go to Chrissie and Vicky for supplying us the tools to shoot, and for allowing us to share their pictures. 

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  • 01 January, 2013
    HARRINGTON & SQUIRES is a small private printing press founded in 2002 in Tufnell Park in London. This press specialises in small format and limited editions where each job is designed and set, printed and finished, by hand using traditional methods and equipment.

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  • 28 December, 2012

    Throughout the new year we will be sharing each monthly image from our 2013 calendar.

    At LABOUR AND WAIT, we have always been keen to support craftspeople. In our opinion there is nothing like an objet made with care in which, you can detect the hand of the maker. These objects have life. The hand is, of course, the most important tool of all, but each maker has shared with us some of the faithful tools used in their everyday work. Ranging from the highly specialised to the humble and improvised, these still-lifes provide a fascinating insight into their worlds.

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  • 01 December, 2012
    A proper kettle. Perfect profile, rich chocolate brown and a great pourer to boot! What more do you need to warm up a winter's night?

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  • 28 November, 2012

    Our 2013 Calendar is now in stock online and in our Redchurch Street store.

    This year’s theme is ‘Tools of the Trade’. Each month features a still life composition of the tools used by the craftsmen and women who make some of our most popular products. There is a limited stock of these calendars, so make sure to order yours in time!

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  • 01 November, 2012
    A little grey jug, which seems more like a sketch than the real thing. Seen from this angle the dynamic handle appears to diminish impossibly at its junction with the body.

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  • 01 October, 2012
    This curious enamel coffee maker could only have been made in England! Its strangely baroque handle seems completely at odds with its otherwise pared down appearance. This anomaly, however, is what makes it so compelling.

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  • 01 September, 2012
    This preserving jar is from America. We are always looking for these jars, whose aqueous hue is so appealing. The earliest examples date from the 1930s and have beautiful irregularities in the glass.

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  • 01 August, 2012
    A clothes brush which unfolds to become a coat-hanger, or a coat-hanger which folds to become a clothes brush? This 'Heath-Robinson' device would have been indispensable to a seasoned traveler in the 1950s.

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  • 01 July, 2012
    We found this teapot at a vintage fair, and immediately fell for its quirky ugliness. The contrasting spout and wicker covered handle makes it demand attention. In ten years we have never seen another one!

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  • 01 June, 2012
    This jolly juicer dates from the 1970s. Its shape and colour implies its function perfectly. On picking it up, the urge to squeeze the handles is almost irresistible.

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  • 01 May, 2012
    A recent find, the pleasing shape of this simple skimmer reminds us of the domestic still life paintings of artist William Scott.

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  • 01 April, 2012
    They don't make them like this any more (unfortunately!) A beautifully proportioned pail, enamelled in the mottled grey of an April sky. It is humble, but beautiful.

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  • 01 March, 2012
    This old 'Betterware' brush is from our brush collection. We have always had a curious fascination with brushes as they come in so many different shades and sizes, often with very specific uses. This one, we believe, is simply for removing cobwebs.

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  • 01 February, 2012
    This small milk jug hails from Staffordshire. Its stripes have all the balance and harmony of a Ben Nicholson relief, or a Josef Albers painting. Art for the breakfast table!

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  • 01 January, 2012
    Bought several years ago in France, this two-piece coffee pot caught our eye with its perfect proportions. It has a pleasing simplicity of design married with a comforting homely appearance.

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  • 28 December, 2011

    Throughout the new year we will be sharing each monthly image from our 2012 calendar.

    At LABOUR AND WAIT we always stock a selection of vintage items which we hope customers will incorporate into their daily lives. For ten years we have enjoyed exploring vintage markets both in the UK and abroad in search of unique items to rescue and restore to life. We are always attracted by the often quirky design of products manufactured in the past, whose colours and shapes can seem startling to our eyes. We never know what we will unearth and sometimes we find it hard to part with our discoveries. In this calendar we would like to share some of our favourite finds with you.

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  • 01 October, 2011

    Here is a very quick sneak-peek at our new 2012 Vintage Finds Calendar.

    Over the years we have collected some odd, unusual and interesting vintage items which we have then sold in the store. Some, however, were so nice that we couldn’t bear to sell them but thought instead that they should be put on display somewhere. Hence the Labour and Wait Calendar 2012. 


    A collection of 12 of our most interesting vintage finds, this calendar comes as loose leafs with a complimentary clipboard - in future years, the new design will simply slip into the existing clipboard. Quick, convenient and re-usable.

    The calendar is available in store for £14.00, and will be available online soon.

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