Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Type Americana: Part 3 (Letterpress Workshop)

Here resumes the Type Americana 4-part blog post series, with our Letterpress Workshop. After a Friday full of lecture and and evening film screening, we flitted back to SVC on Saturday for some hands-on type fun. That's exactly what we got. Messy, colorful, active type via letterpress.

The workshop instructors were Jim and Bill Moran, brothers from Two Rivers, Wisconsin. They came all the way from the Hamilton Wood Type Museum, where they do their lives' work, to spend some time with us typophiles. To prove their love for all things letterpress, they traveled with some precious cargo in tow: a set of blocks from Hamilton Wood Type’s Globe Printing Collection. As stated on the Type Americana blog, "This group of plates, which offers a peek at American advertising culture from the 1930s to the 1950s, provides a rare opportunity to work with a vintage collection of printing history." It was a fabulous opportunity that each of us seized with gusto!

Below is a series of shots documenting our morning in the print shop. Enjoy, and holler if you have any questions.

These little pieces of wood are called furniture. Cute. They're what you use to position your plate/blocks correctly on the press and keep them where you want them.
I think someone was dreaming of Tiffanys...
Think of all the different messages these blocks were used to print in the past...It's pretty cool that they continue to help us communicate, present-day.
Bill giving us the run-down. My printing buddy, Glenn Fleishman is the angry-looking man on Bill's right. He's actually really fun and not angry at all. :) Though I don't have any shots of us working together, we made a great team. Thanks, Glenn!
The blocks from Hamilton Wood Type’s Globe Printing Collection
Our first plate, which we had to stop using after only two prints due to some damage. When they find damage, they do one final proof of the plate and then create a replica of it using a router (much more high-tech than how the original was made) so the block can be retired, but it's image can continue to be used and enjoyed.
Our second choice: Sportsmans Park, a 2-plate set. 
I guess we had a thing for horses.
My new friend Joy from Austin, TX
Vibrant fives!
This blue hue was in high-demand.
The master at work: Mr. Jim helping us set our second plate in the set, skilled in using furniture.
Me, pretty excited about all of this.
P.S. The Space Needle is right out that window.
Our third plate of the morning.
You can't get much more Americana than this:
Farm kids, a pig, a cow, balloons and a plane.
Hamilton actually made most of their money from the manufacturing of  "Composing Room Equipment" (like cabinets and things), not type. If you'd like to know more about the history of wood type and Hamilton, you can read about it all here.)
"TOMATO IN CONCERT" - On the press and ready to roll.
Me, intense.

"TOMATO IN CONCERT", up-close. This combination of blocks still makes me giggle a little. Can you imagine tomatoes in concert? All I can see is something along the lines of Veggie Tales.
Joy and I showing off our "TOMATO IN CONCERT" meets Farm Children.
Being a good little printer: cleaning. Note who's behind me, to the left: Richard Kegler of P22 and the Director of Making Faces!

Up next! 
Part 4: Font Workshop, to drop Monday morning following the holiday weekend. Stay tuned. And be sure to eat plenty of turkey....or tofurkey, whichever you prefer.


  1. I can't believe how serious I look in all the photos! Let's say I'm just "intent."

  2. >The master at work: Mr. Bill

    No, that's Bill's brother.
    His name is Jim.

  3. John - oops! I may have swapped their names on accident. Thanks!

  4. Apparently so. ;-) Here's another one for you:

    >Bill giving us the run-down. My printing buddy,
    >Glenn Fleishman is the angry-looking man on Jim's right.

    Both names, Bill and Jim, used for Bill?

  5. Yes! Another good catch. Thanks for reading! Sincerely, Megan

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