As you may recall, I've got a weak spot for the Western New York Book Arts Center since Rich and Carima of P22 fame got it going years back, and I've had the pleasure to print there in the past. This summer I was asked to contribute a linoleum cut for steamroller printing at their annual Book Fest. The cut would have to be a large one, and mine is 4x2', officially the largest linoleum cut done at Starshaped. While thinking about what the image would be and what it would say, I wondered if I could potentially use my grandfather's recently inherited wood carving tools. My grandfather was an avid woodworker, churning out all manner of projects that would commonly be referred to as folk art. He loved Americana and patriotic imagery, and of these, his favorite was eagles. They were everywhere I looked when growing up, and to this day one watches over my grandmother's home. Finding and carving the appropriate eagle with grandpa's set of tools would be a tangible homage to the love of craft that he instilled in me.
Though I do love stars, there were too many here, and I felt it would be awesome to pull in imagery pertinent to what I do. This led to altering what the eagle carried to a composing stick for setting type and rolls of paper.
After this, I scanned it to piece it together and add the text. Then it could be printed out in tiles to its accurate size and traced onto the actual linoleum.
The type used was HWT's American Chromatic and Antique Tuscan no. 9, which seemed fitting and appropriate, not only stylistically, but because they were digitized by Rich Kegler, WNYBAC founder, for The Hamilton Wood Type Museum. That's how we tie it all together, folks!
The cut took many nights.
When it was largely finished, I roughly inked it in to see if any glaring problems popped up, and if anything else needed trimming. This was my first 'it's glorious...grandpa would be proud!' moment. And right after that, it was rolled and sent off to Buffalo.
Printing via steamroller was not only more successful than I imagined, it was a lot of fun as well. Here's a little of the action, thanks to many great volunteers and a donated steamroller (at bottom). Prints were all done on dampened muslin:
Here's a little video of the whole thing:
And looks who's parked behind our prints blowing in the breeze...
And Jo had her own Letterpress For Kids demo; more about that here.
And while the city of Buffalo hasn't always been amenable to local upstarts and the arts, they did fork over for some No Parking signs so that WNYBAC didn't have to print their own as they surely could have (another story):
All in all, a fantastic day of printing and making new friends. WNYBAC is a beautiful facility that's still very much on a path toward finding itself and working at its full potential. You can help keep them vibrant by visiting their Indiegogo campaign.