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The decor printer Interprint promoted five apprentice graduates to journey-level status with a centuries-old custom at the weekend. A really wet experience for the newly-qualified media designers and media technologists – as printers are called today.
Five apprentice graduates were admitted to the printing guild as journeymen last Saturday by being 'couched'. All company employees were invited to this guild induction to celebrate with their families and friends in mild late summer weather.
"Journeymen, bring me the 'Cornute' quickly, for baptism with water!" Those were the opening words of the 'couching' master Sascha Rocholl for the very wet procedure. In line with the traditional act, the 'catchers' catch one 'Cornute' (Latin: horned) after the other and sit him on a chair with a wet sponge on it. The 'sponge holder' ensures that the trouser bottom of the journeyman candidate gets fully soaked with water. He then pours cold water over him before submerging him in a barrel of water. The baptism with water is a symbolic act which is meant to wash off "all mischief, faultiness, botch-up and sloppy work" that occurred during the apprenticeship. The 'couching' procedure is completed by drinking a litre of beer.
Although completely soaked to the skin, the five new journeymen accepted their journeyman certificate with great pleasure. Congratulations to Brandon Adalim, Julian Binz, Sophia Hütter, Katho Hadije Omeirate and Kevin Wirth. As in the previous years, the guild induction ceremony at Interprint was organised independently by all the apprentices. "We are proud of our apprentices who have again made this event a great success," praised Andrea Pusch, Interprint's Apprenticeship Manager.
The Guild Induction Tradition
Interprint has upheld the guild induction tradition for many years. It dates back to the 16th century when masters and journeymen of the printing trade promoted the apprentices to journey-level status after completion of their apprenticeship. An apprentice graduate, formerly called a 'Cornute', was only accepted as a journeyman if he had lived an orderly and honest life during his apprenticeship. He had to first pass the apprenticeship examination and thereafter a probationary period before he was promoted to journey-level status. The crowning finale was the award of the journeyman certificate at the guild induction ceremony.
Couching (German: Gautschen) is a technical term used by papermakers to describe the transfer of a sheet of pulp to the couch press to squeeze the water out of the paper web. It is only after that process that the paper turns into something useful – just like the apprentice graduate in a figurative sense. As the focus is on water, the promotion to journey-level status has been called 'couching', i.e. Gautschen in German, ever since.