The Letterpress Trail 2015 part 2: Bloodier Than Blood

Renegade was devastatingly bad. If we'd had a 'bad' Chicago show, we still would have made enough money to cover the bulk of our entire trip. As it stood, we broke even. This meant throwing everything (and Jo) into the car right after the show ended Sunday night and white knuckling it to Lake Tahoe to sleep before moving on. I had to figure out how to move money around to cover the next week, how to make the car function as so little product sold and it was packed (now with sand dollars and crab legs) and how to not sob continuously in front of Jo. We found a Motel 6 at 11pm and I tried to settle into sleeping before Monday's 12 hour drive. I won't lie; I felt pretty desperate and angry and trapped on the wrong side of the country. IMG_1369

I left each morning as early as possible so that Jo would fall asleep in her tiny back seat. It made the ride faster for her and gave me a few hours to think and listen to angry songs. The angry songs gave way to acceptance, and by the time Kegler sent Endless Grey Ribbon I mustered the patience and sense of purpose to get through the rest of the morning.


We spent quite a bit of time on 50, grabbing gas wherever we could just to be prepared. That said, our mouse of a car gets extremely good mileage and it was my own paranoia that made me stop every time we saw GASOLINE. This route is the traditional Pony Express route and there are many tiny towns that haven't aged in 100 years. I don't have pictures of these; while the worn, hand painted signs and once-stately buildings hold a definite charm, the unfortunate deterioration of an economy to support the humans trying to manage them is not. We soaked up what we could to avoid partaking in 'ruin porn'.


DJ Jen's Musical Interlude: Plenty Times, Wide Eyes, Box Elder, Mother of God

When Jo woke in time to enjoy southern Utah (and it was beautiful) she was ready to rock the rest of the afternoon.

DJ Jo's Musical Interlude: The Party Line, No Cities to Love (this one always makes you feel better, Mom), Nanny Nanny Boo Boo, Stars 4-Ever, Your Cover's Blown


Right about when we stopped for a break and shot this photo, a rock hit us hard. When we got to Grand Junction we had a cracked iPad, iPhone and now windshield. The Sound of Breaking Glass is very expensive. I had the phone repaired in Denver as it was a lifeline for navigation.

We met up with kind and welcoming Tom Parson who toured us around the Englewood Depot, a former train station he's turning into what will be a fantastic print and book arts center. While in its early, rough stages, there is a full basement with easy access to what will be garage doors for loading in presses and an upstairs for small presses, a library and workspace.



Then we visited his home and were blown away by his collection of books and everything related to printing.


A slightly trepidatious Jo heads into the garage to check out the print shop. Every square inch of this place is covered, mostly with type.



Tom pulled out a lot of treasures to share.







IMG_1399  IMG_1402


He's been slowly proofing and cataloging his extensive collection in a few ring bound booklets to keep track of what's there. He's excellent at making notes about whatever he can learn of the type, as well as where he found/purchased it.

IMG_1421 IMG_1422 IMG_1423


I am coveting these things:



Then we rode over to visit Jason Wedekind at Genghis Kern, who has just acquired a building he is setting up as a co-working space. This place is right next door.


The print shop is in the back of the new space and is really coming along.



Visiting print shops can get old when you're eight, but the payoff was worth it; Jason taught Jo how to always win at tic tac toe. I only wish we'd had room to bring some Old Style.



There were a few (and by few I mean hundreds) of records left from the former store next to the co-working space which Jason snagged. No longer lonely LPs, these were headed to good homes, including mine.


From there we went to the home of a former Chicago friend and librarian I had the pleasure to work with a long time ago. It was wonderful to meet little Bea, born about a year after Jo following their move to Denver. Getting a chance to relax, we reminisced over wine and revisited a birth announcement I did for Will. Charles, the older boy on the announcement, celebrated his 15th birthday the day we were there.



Off again to Kansas City, Missouri.


Being welcomed in KCMO with a set of gorgeous Hammerpress prints and cupcakes was a real treat in every sense. We chatted a LOT about the state of running letterpress-based businesses and shared stories. I knew there would be a lot of ornamental eye candy to enjoy here.


IMG_1442Their new retail space is nothing short of stunning.


IMG_1443Matt, Brady and Kate. Unbelievably great to see them all.






IMG_1438Top notch storage system.



IMG_1440The ink drum corps.




From there we headed to Two Tone Press to soak up the talent of these ladies. Their prints and linoleum cutting ability are out of this world. Sometimes, literally.







Huge thanks to Michelle and Angie for welcoming us and sharing their work!

Best Western is Jo's idea of extreme luxury (in-room jacuzzi and the Disney Channel), so we slept well in KC. The next morning we hit Little Freshie and made our way to St. Louis.


This is the home of Firecracker Press, Central Print and the Alpha Beta Club. We got in early enough to park ourselves there for the day and catch up on computer work. Greeted by the sweet sounds of Sam & Dave, this was the perfect, soul-filled balm for a long drive.

Firecracker sits on one side of the building, Central Print on the other and the Alpha Beta Club in the middle. We set up shop there in the middle to be able to see and enjoy everything that happened around us.













Deep into discussion with Kristina about designing and making zines.


Central Print hosts summer workshops for teens and these prints are the result of one that involved pressure printing.


The CP side also sells cards and prints. It's a dangerous section to be in.




Our office for the day.


Firecracker initiated the Letterpress Trail map a few years ago (so maybe this traveling around is their fault?). Eric nearly finished ours off as only he would be allowed to, with a giant sticker. You can still get these prints and collect stamps in all the shops you visit.


We left with some real gems.


Huge thanks to this great gang for welcoming us and letting us be a part of the atmosphere for a day.


That night we went to Perennial for a benefit where Jo and Eric's daughter made some clever cork boards and jewelry.


At First Light we headed out to Columbus. This sign was almost too much. So desperate for Chicago, it was all I could do to turn towards Indianapolis.


But our time in Columbus at the home of Roni and Scott Moore always feels like home. Jo got quality time at the community pool and the impressive zoo while I went at it making wood type under the patient guidance of Scott.


So many patterns, so little time.


Scott has added a laser cutter to his wood type making toolbox and it was fascinating to see it in action, cutting 'new' patterns.


Here are the patterns for the snowflakes we collaborated on last Fall, as well as some of the laser cut versions.



I settled on this ornament and set out to make two.


For these we started with the fine cutting before moving to the rough cut. It's a slow, methodical process that's very easy to mess up. You have to carefully trace the pattern while the cutting side takes care of business.



Here are the final two. Not bad!


Then I moved on to the manicules as I don't have any large sets. The patterns can be used to create any size you desire with adjustments on the pantograph. I opted for a set that is 30 picas long (about 5 inches).


I started with the rough cut on these as you can see on the top piece. The bottom shows the addition of the finer cut, but not the hand finishing that needs to happen to complete the job. Did I mention this is *really* a process?


I made two sets so I could share one with Matt at Virgin as well as sneaking in some sunsets.


We hit a huge and scary pothole on the way into Columbus that severely damaged a front tire and we needed to replace both. Of all the places for this to happen, Columbus was the best possible location. I was grateful for Scott's 'dad mode' kicking in as he found a location that could replace the tires immediately. We had to be in Buffalo the next day so our window was small. Scott and Roni are the most gracious hosts and staying with them is always a comforting pleasure. But it was time to move on again. We found a much needed Car Wash on the way to New York and we were off for the last leg Jo and I would share together.

The Letterpress Trail 2015 part one

The Letterpress Trail 2015 part three