The 2014 Letterpress Trail, part two

The next stop on our Letterpress Trail following Cincinnati was Columbus, home of Moore Wood Type, one of two wood type makers in the US and a great friend to Starshaped. Scott's humble workshop is mostly in his basement, where he has just the right set up of equipment, tools (some handmade!) and wood for production. moore12A table full of recently cut type. And a sneak peek of half rounds in the background!

moore11This is Scott's pantograph, next to a trim saw. You can see a pattern set up here.

moore16A box of patterns for catchphrases.

moore18Scott has also been laser cutting wood type, and here is an experiment with creating a border. After cutting a full sheet of finished, type high maple, he can then trim out the individual borders and ornaments. Working with the laser allows for greater flexibility of sizing, not to mention detail in the smaller sizes. And speed!

moore19These are a few new stars sitting on top of the proof sheets of our Moore collection at Starshaped. I brought them to double check our own stock against the new Moore offerings.

moore14Check out this beautiful block ready to be trimmed and carved. You can see the lovely wood grain, and well as a bit of the sheen from the smoothness of the surface.

moore21These are the cutters for carving the final pieces. You can see the range of sizes to accommodate a variety of type forms and counter spaces.

moore20Happily, I got to cut my first wood type! Scott let me choose what I wanted to do, so I picked this ornamental rule that he hadn't done yet. I even got to pick the length; the final piece can be cut to any size, which is the beauty of working with a pantograph. Scott has a notebook of configurations for each of his patterns, and also makes notes directly on them so as to remember how to set the pantograph measurements to cut accurate sizes.

moore1The first cut is the more detailed one, and you can see how the outline of the rule is taking place. After this, the cutter is swapped for a larger one to clear the solid areas that are not part of the design.

moore4Look at me go! I'm using the tracing side of the pantograph to outline the pattern.

moore2Here are the final pieces.

moore5Scott made patterns for an Antique Tuscan, a typeface that's near to my heart and one we've had the longest in the studio. Because I'm missing a few letters, we thought it would be fun to make replacement characters. Here's a box of the patterns ready to be mounted, traced and cut as new wood type.


moore8After much configuration, we were successful and I was able to make a handful of the missing letters needed to complete my set of 12-line type. It is now at home with its 100 year old siblings.

What a delight it was to visit with the Moores for two days, sharing stories, cutting type and playing with the dogs. Can't wait to see them again!


finaltuscanAfter Scott checked the fluids in the Fiat, we hit the road to Pittsburgh to visit Matt Braun of the Outdated Press. He's got a cozy shop that's enviable for its tidiness. It's the perfect collection of unique metal type and impeccably restored Pearl presses (and he's got one for sale, folks!).



outdated7Here are a few of Matt's beautiful typefaces.


outdated5This is the next restoration project!

outdated11Here's a fine example of Matt's talent with complex forms. Also a project near to his heart; his own newborn's birth announcement! And what a cutie he is.

outdated13Matt took us downtown to the office of Bearded, his day job. They have a fine way of mixing old and new, as web designers with a stellar letterpress studio all in the same place.

bearded9These are just a few shots of their incredible wood type collection. And you're in luck, because many of these have been digitized and are available as part of Wood Type Revival.





bearded5Four hours after leaving Pittsburgh, we made it to Buffalo to catch a few hours of sleep before participating in the Western New York Book Arts Center's annual Book Fest (read about last year's event here). I was happy to contribute another large linoleum cut for their steamroller printing, which is really a sight to see.

buffalo1Despite the construction, many folks came out to the parking lot to see the steamroller in action. And thanks to the construction, we had a lot of chain link 'walls' to fill with beautiful prints on muslin. You can see my ode to The Queen City 3x3' linoleum cut here.


buffalo6Everyone got into the action and it was great to engage the younger members of the audience in inking up the cuts.

buffalo3Yep, watching a steamroller print is indeed camera-worthy!

buffalo5Check it out for yourself:

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And here's the final result! All of the prints pulled are for sale at WNYBAC, and the proceeds all benefit the Center. buffalo4Sunburned and exhausted, I took a day off before finishing up our Letterpress Trail in Rochester. Given the amount of type seen that day, I'll be saving those images for their own post! Check back soon.

WNYBAC Book Fest

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. bookfestposterThe 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.


woodcuttoolsI looked at vintage eagle cuts and started to find a form that would work best in the size of linoleum I had. This is the first clean sketch.

eaglesketchThough 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.

eagletransferThe 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:

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Major success! There were 3 other talented printmakers represented under the steamroller that day, including Keegan Onefoot-Wenkman, Tom Rooney and Jodi Hamman & Christine Gallisdorfer:




And looks who's parked behind our prints blowing in the breeze...

eagleprint10A little skeptical of the food truck phenomenon, I gave Lloyd's Tacos a spin, and they were hands down amazing.

lloydMeanwhile, there was also an artisan market, paper making and many other demos going on throughout the day including linoleum cutting.

linocutting2And Jo had her own Letterpress For Kids demo; more about that here.

joadampressAnd 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):

noparkingAll 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.