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General Information

The first owner of a Halfwood Press was its designer, Bill Ritchie. In April, 2004, he commissioned "a half-wood, half-steel" roller-style printing press with a 24-inch wide bed. Such a press is referred to as an "etching press." The Kughler Company, in the Ballard area of Seattle, took on the job.

After this press, he named "Century," was finished, Bill commented that a model of this six-foot, 300-pound press would be nice, "like a mantel clock, to look at." A few weeks later, Kughler showed up with a mini press. They put it to a test it to see if it worked like the big one, and it did. Bill took it on a picnic and made prints.

The second person to own the "Legacy Mini Halfwood Press" was Hans Nelson, who - in November of 2004 - drove 90 miles to the Daniel Smith Inc. backroom demo to see Bill's press in action. Hans bought the second press on the spot. Sadly, Hans died only a few months later.

By Christmas, 2004, from the demonstration at Daniel Smith, Inc., four of the Legacy Mini Halfwood presses were sold - two as surprise gifts and one by the artist for herself. The introductory price averaged $600.

Legacy Mini Halfwood models sold well, so Kughler made a twelve-inch wide model, the "Mariner," followed by the 9-inch wide model, the "Galleon." As Bill made them more elaborate and labor-intensive, the prices of Mini Halfwoods rose to a high of $1,400.

Bill made the first Printmaker Chest for the Legacy Mini Halfwood - the first step toward his goal of providing, "A box containing everything you need to be a busker printmaker or teacher."

Ritchie and Kughler made a model called the "Pram," incorporating feedback from the first 100 owners. Seeking ways to add online printmaking teaching methods in the press' works, Bill invented the "PressGhost," a flash memory drive loaded with information, books, videos and links to other owners via the web.

The Pram was awarded the Silver Medal in the Italian design contest, the A'Design Award and Competition -the first time a printing press was given such a prize in any design show.

Kughler brought on the 7.5-inch wide press, the "Frigate" and a Printmaker Chest to carry it.

In 2014 - ten years after he made the Century and the Legacy Mini, Tom designed the 18-inch, standing floor model, the "Carrack."

Ritchie's pursuit as a printmaking evangelist stimulated experiments with printmaking board games, solid Chocolate bar ink made the Rembrandt Chocolate Company in Canada, a novel back story - "Rembrandt's Ghost in the New Machine," for game backstories.

The notion of printmaking as an experience led to a wood model of the press that Rembrandt used. Ric Miller made a simpler version of the "Wee Woodie Rembrandt Press" with his CNC router system. Ric's Wee Woodie Rembrandt also won the A'Design Award in Milan - the second time a printing press won the design award.

By this point in time, the price range of the Halfwood presses had made them collector items as well as being servicable printing presses. This pricey, designer quality exclusivity seemed to Bill to work against his goal of popularizing printmaking with a roller-style press because it would not be affordable for teachers, buskers, hobbyists and crafters.

To offer a quality press at half the price of the Pram, Ritchie and Kughler designed the "Mini Etching Press," and designed it so that it could be sold as a Do-It-Yourself Kit - a working and customizable press. It was introduced in 2012 at $750.

At the time of this writing, approximately 150 people in fifteen countries have taken ownership of Halfwood presses, Printmaker Chests and DIY kits of the Halfwood Line.

December 20, 2014