The 2014 Letterpress Trail finale!

Well, we've come to the end of the road on the Letterpress Trail for this summer, and it ends in Rochester, New York. Hold on to your hats because there's so much type in this post that it's a little mind blowing. While Jo was distracted with family, slip n' slides and ice cream, I headed over to Rochester to visit Amelia at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, part of the library at RIT. Feeling a little homesick for the City That Works, Amelia kindly pulled type specimen books from my fair city, largely from Barnhart Bros. and Spindler. bbscoversTheir first building was a block from where Mr. Starshaped's theater (the Shubert) is today.

bbsbuildings4What a treat. What follows are some poor photos (in the interest of preserving bindings) of some of the type I found that I both already have and that which I might die for. We'll start with what I already have in the studio and was happy to confirm as Chicago-born:



have6I'm missing the bug from this set of ornaments, which is a shame because he's an attractive little fellow.


have7While I don't have Lightface Era per se, this was a precursor to Pastel, a typeface that I do have in the studio, and one that was popular for silent film intertitles. Here's a sample of what we've done with it.have5

have9We've recently proofed up a bunch of catchphrases in our collection, including many that are here.

have2What follows here is a wish list of things I'd love to have for the studio.


want1Beautiful forms!

want2Pretty sure we could recreate this one with little ornaments.

want3And this is the cream of the crop. Totally speechless over this modular alphabet.

want4What strikes me most about the BB&S specimen books is the writing. Here's a little sample from various books:



bbstext3Each book has wonderful samples of exactly what you can do with their type. Here are a few inspirational pieces:




inspiration5And here's one that features a cyma, or tilda-like squiggle that fills the space next to a capital L (thanks, Nick). You can often find these in hand painted signs and occasionally in the stone signage of apartment buildings around Chicago.

inspiration2I also found a great ad for the rule bender we currently have on loan from the Platen Press Museum. This handy tool will bend rules to create curved lines in print. For $20...what a steal!

rulebenderAs if that wasn't enough type to delve into, Amelia then pulled out just a tiny bit of their collection of Albert Schiller's work. His ornamental print work makes me want to pack it in. So clever and beautifully printed.



schiller7The magical ampersand machine...

schiller5This is THE press, which is currently being restored.


After an overwhelming visit to RIT, I made my way to Virgin Wood Type, the second of two wood type makers on our Trail. It was great to see Geri and Matt again; here's their humble pantograph in the middle of cutting a new font.

virgin4Boxes and boxes of patterns!

virgin5Matt's Ludlow box.

virgin6So many beautiful ornaments... how do I narrow down choices?

virgin1This is what I left with. These will be in print soon.

virgin3Then Geri and Matt took me over to Rochester's Book Arts Center in the Genesee Center for the Arts. What a great facility!





roch7If you're going to explore a wood type collection, is there anyone better to do it with besides Geri? Here are some of her favorites.



roch4Thanks to Virgin for letting me crash yet again and geek out on wood type for an afternoon.

Our last stop on the trip is a sentimental one. Ten years ago Mr. Starshaped and I were married at the Genesee Country Village, a complete historic village that includes a print shop. I try to get Jo there every summer to explore.

gcv1Their quirky prints are everywhere around the village and are a delight to see. They are also available for purchase and if you're lucky, someone is around the day you visit to show you how the hand press works.

gcv4Maybe Jo wasn't keen on staying behind to help like I told her she would as their new apprentice. But at least she knows her way around a shop!

gcv5That's it for our 2014 Letterpress Trail, though it's certainly not an end to visiting more shops as the year progresses. We've got some plans for 2015 already. In the meantime, it's back to the shop with a ton of new treasures to get on press.