Printing in the D

Right before the Letterpress Trail took over life, I spent two days at Signal Return, located in Detroit's Eastern Market, hanging out, printing and enjoying the company in their incredible space. When you see a giant manicule, you know you're in the right place. And when you understand their mission to create a vibrant printmaking studio that seeks to 'Teach, Connect, Serve, and Produce', then that's even more rewarding. sr19

sr2Their open and airy retail space literally invites people to come in and browse. So many beautiful prints and cards from all over, as well as pretty sweet aprons and shirts. I'm happy to say that Starshaped's cards and prints are in good company here. Need an awesome gift for someone? This is the place to go, Detroit! Stop on over after you hit the markets on Saturday morning.



sr3They had recently acquired a few new banks of incredible wood and metal type. Here you can see Meg going through it to gauge what was lurking in these cases. I can tell you, there were some real treats there, buried under decades of dirt and dust. And mouse poop. Because all old type comes with complimentary mouse poop.


sr21Here's Bryan Baker, SR's printer-in-residence, going through some of his own new type.

sr14And Bryan's dog Isabelle! I point her out here because she's an absolute doppelganger of my own dog.

isabelThis is 'proof press row', with 3 presses lined up and ready to print. Lynn Avadenka, the artistic director, is at the end, pulling prints of the Detroit type I brought with me.

sr15Joel is moving in for a close up shot!

sr5The beauty of this Vandercook is that it was actually large enough to set all of our ornamental letters in a straight line. So we took advantage of that and printed quite a few new Detroit prints. These are for sale at Signal Return and all of the cash goes directly to them to support their workshops, outreach and all around awesomeness. If you're in Detroit Friday, September 19th, you can attend their fundraiser, Type-Oh!-Rama, which looks to be a pretty fantastic evening of letterpress activities.


sr20After printing, eating and fraternizing on Friday we went to Shinola for an Art Crank poster show. What an incredibly beautiful place this was. Here's just a tiny shot of the bike I coveted all night. If anyone wants to donate this to Starshaped, it would see a lot of use.

shinola2Their storefront is virtually a museum, and you can see the posters in the background here. Many of the prints were sold as a benefit for Back Alley Bikes, a cause we can really get behind. The community support and brisk sales of prints was heartening, not to mention the overall enthusiasm for the print community in Detroit.

shinola3After my time at Signal Return on Saturday, I headed over to Kennedy Prints to hang with Amos and see how Detroit was treating him. He has a lot of space for his vast collection of prints, type and presses. Not fully unpacked since moving from Alabama, he's got plans for a grand and glorious new space.

amos3This is a hand lettered print Amos picked up from a school while in Alabama. Gotta love lead paint!

amos2And a classy ampersand discovered in his wood type collection.

amos7Amos also picked up a few cases of beautifully detailed, hand carved wood cuts with African and African American themes. These came from Italy. What a journey.

amos5And here are a few of the prints Amos sent me home with. He's doing a lot of fantastic work for the city, as you can see.

amos4Of course I had to go here. It felt like a pilgrimage, and it's hard to believe I felt my heart flutter when driving by. So modest. And so earth moving at the same time.

hitsvilleIt was such an inspiring 36 hours in the D. Everyone I had the opportunity to work and chat with was filled with the midwestern gumption that makes me proud and assured of the fact that they will succeed with whatever ventures they choose to take on. Go Detroit!