The Baby's Fed and the Tunes Are Pure

My parenting philosophy is summed up in this question: How do I raise my daughter to be an independent, confident member of society, who is fulfilled by a sense of accomplishment through good work and overcoming challenges? firstprint

The reality of continuing Starshaped after having a child hit pretty hard when Josephine was born. Birth and the subsequent year was the most physically and emotionally destructive of my life. Physical limitations resulting from a poor birthing experience meant hardship for the studio, borrowing money from our personal finances and very little printing. Emotional distress led to insecurity about the type of work I could produce and the larger existential questions about WHY I would do it at all. In the midst of this I received the gift of Sarah, the first person to work in the studio on a regular basis besides myself and who made herself indispensable immediately by not only working so hard but by listening. She brought in Marnie and for a moment in time we were an unstoppable force of nature. These ladies stuck around a few years, making my transition back to printing bearable.


Mr. Starshaped and I have almost always had opposite work schedules, which proved to be ideal for the first few years of Jo's life. I could work during the day until 4 and he left for work right after. Obviously this created strains on our own relationship so we scheduled many 'ARE we in this together?' meetings. We decided we were. At two and a half Jo started school at Chicago Montessori which we quickly discovered to be completely in line with our thoughts on child rearing; she thrives there still today. I credit the layout and materials in her classrooms with aiding in her transition to being at Starshaped more often. She has developed a deep respect for beautiful, useful materials and takes pride in the work she does there.


When Jo was little, I had to strategically plan meetings and vendor phone calls around when she was napping, as hearing a baby immediately diminished my stature to many. 'Another mom with a cute little side business' was something I often heard; soul crushing, given that Starshaped existed for 7 years before she born. It was very hard to hear Mr. Starshaped conduct production meetings via phone and get asked about spending time with his daughter. 'That's so great' was what he heard. The double standard of parents committing time to their children is still very strong, and the number of articles on 'cool dads' is something I will save for a personal rant. This is largely why I hid family life from business as much as possible. Why I missed opportunities in the print world. Why I didn't attend many letterpress events and conferences. My assumption was that adults would not be interested in having a child around. While we occasionally got out to galleries, Jo's first big show was one the Hamilton Wood Type Museum staged for me in 2012. I was excessively flattered that Jim Moran called and asked me to do this as I felt like I had been far off the radar since becoming a mother. This also led to my near-confidence in registering for the Wayzgoose that same year. As the tiniest person there Jo held her own, signing prints she helped to design, while we occasionally escaped to more kid-friendly locales (ask me about children's museums in Wisconsin).



Jo started coming to the studio more out of necessity, not choice. So we built a small area to house materials for her to work with while there. This has morphed through the years to accommodate her mental growth and rarely looks like this; I cleaned it up for this feature over at Apartment Therapy. Usually it is a mess of what some might call creative expression and what I call a heartbreaking lack of order. Not pictured are the times I need either silence or a break from art directing tiny projects in which Jo enjoys a few movies on the computer. I struggle to not beat myself up about this.


In 2011 we purchased a Madsen cargo bike. I don't have any agenda for traveling this way; it was simply the easiest way to get around with a child while needing to carry things. We have used it nearly every day since, from getting to school to grocery shopping. I have endured countless comments from drivers about what a terrible mother I am for doing this. It stings, but I try to remember people are afraid of what's not quickly recognizable while keeping my senses alert on the road. Also, Mr. Starshaped does not have this happen to him. A year later we converted the bike into the Press Bike because I sought a fun activity to do with children that would appeal to Jo. At first we used a tiny Sigwalt press but this proved to be unwieldy while producing minuscule prints. With a little suggestion from Paul we made our own simple galley press and now have two. They utilize a rolling pin for impression and are a huge hit with kids and adults.





I'd like to say that Jo is 100% on board with this. She is not. At Printer's Ball in 2014 she was hot, pitched a fit and ran off to seek others to talk to. I told her we would split our payment 3 ways (studio, me, Jo) if she helped out. This is our arrangement for all Press Bike events that pay us to attend. I did not pay her for this event in an effort to make a point, which made her cry and me feel awful, on top of it being unbearably hot that day. Not every day is a win.


Another big challenge is how to maintain our presence in the community via money making shows and fairs. With Mr. Starshaped working most weekends, Jo is often stuck at the shows for long periods of time unless I can play the scheduling game for play dates and breaks. Babysitting costs are profit killers for weekend shows and we don't always have family in town to help. One way I've dealt with this is to let her make a print she can sell to other vendor friends, an activity she shares with screen printers Ella and CoCo. At $3 each, she usually makes about $80, all of which she can keep and spend at the fair if she chooses. This gives her focus as she carefully studies everything that's available before making her choices. She also interacts with other small businesses and makers and is developing a sense of where things come from and how they are made.


Occasionally I have what I think is a great idea to collaborate. This is met with wildly different reactions from Jo. We were asked to contribute to Galerie F's You Are Beautiful show in 2013 and I thought that given the nature of the show it would be a perfect opportunity to work with my beautiful daughter. She had other ideas. After a while of working on my own sketches she had a change of heart and decided to help, pulling type and placing it in a circular form. And hearts, of course. I added the readable text. She was just tall enough to run the press and helped with half of the edition on fabric. But it was seeing it hang in the gallery that made an impact.



We are regular visitors to Galerie F now as it is a favorite for both of us. For myself, I love that they champion outsider and street art that's dynamic and representative of our urban environment. For Jo, it's a great place to hang with the kids whose parents make it possible. If we want a generation of art appreciators, then we need to start on that generation right away.


In the midst of racing between home and school, karate and the studio, we do have blissfully creative moments of sharing or working independently in the same place. I strive to give her helpful critiques about projects while asking for hers in return. In this way, I hope she learns to talk about what she's trying to create while I demonstrate listening and legitimately caring about her opinions. 'Don't tell the parent police' is something I often jokingly whisper to her when we do what I coined a 'late night work night'. But some of our best, most creative spurts come at 9pm accompanied by a Nancy Drew audiobook.





Jo often has a response to pieces I've printed. Here she has redrawn our stationery (I'll take the Best Mom Ever, thanks).


She also drew her own versions of the P22 Member Cards I did in 2014, which you can see here. 'They need hearts!'


But my all time favorite is her Titanic piece, done while I was finishing mine in April 2012 in connection with the 100th anniversary of the sinking. These are the ones I keep. Because let's be honest, does anyone in the city have room for every charming drawing that comes out of their children?


It takes a village, indeed, and I am so fortunate to have a strong one in the print community. One of the largest we have is our family that meets at Hamilton. I am humbled and grateful for the cast of characters that welcome Jo and make her feel like part of the group, complete with name tags. We still have challenges while attending the Wayzgoose, including combating boredom, kid-level activities and maintaining manners. It's a work in progress, but as my brother, the teacher and father says, 'Kids are basically animals. It's our job to civilize them'.











2014johndownerWe visited again recently over Spring Break to print and help out. I know, most kids don't have Hamilton in their top five vacation destinations and would prefer Disney World or at least Wisconsin Dells, but our budget doesn't allow for that right now. So Jo spent a day of pulling type and printing, which she eventually got into and came up with her own brilliant print, entirely of her own doing. As a friend commented, I WON motherhood that day.


2015springbreak2Traveling has also gotten much easier as Jo has gotten older because she's invested in the destinations and helps to plan. We went on a week long Letterpress Trail trip in 2014 that was highly successful in terms of seeing a lot of fellow printers AND getting along remarkably well. I think this was the culmination of several smaller trips as well as striking a balance: today the children's museum, tomorrow Hatch. Swimming in Columbus by day so I can make wood type by night. It's parenting quid pro quo.

letterpresstrailIncluded in our general travels is a yearly trip to the Genesee Country Village where Mr. Starshaped and I were married. They have a tiny historic print shop in which both of these pictures were taken in different years.


mumford2We visited 'Uncle Brad' Vetter and Adrienne Miller at her grad thesis show at Northern Illinois University. I love that Jo is exposed to different styles of printmaking and not just letterpress. It's fascinating to hear her take on other work and to gain an entirely different perspective, and these two have always valued her opinions and make her feel welcome. This was her favorite piece.

niuWhile enjoying our friends at Hatch Show Print, Jo got to hold a giant J, but mostly played with the cats which are still more interesting to a child than giant letters.

hatch2She operated a hand press at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection over Spring Break 2014 (do you sense a theme that doesn't involve theme parks? At least there were cousins along for this one).

carycollectionAnd of course goofing off with our good friends Geri and Matt at Virgin Wood Type, also in Rochester, NY. Both parents, these two just get it and entertain Jo with the hell box of wood type so that the adults can talk.

virginmattThe printmaking community of Chicago is a huge part of the village that helps us raise Jo. Here she is printing at the Hamilton benefit we hosted at Columbia College Book and Paper Arts Center. People really gave it up for a tiny blond at a printing press. She was a part of the team of organizers, volunteers and contributors that raised over $8000 in one day to assist the museum with its move. I like to think she learned the value of supporting something greater than oneself but she may have just really enjoyed counting up the money.

2012benefit1Former Starshaped intern Janice teaches classes at Spudnik Press. She also introduced Jo to Korean food and the myriad adorable Asian things to be found at the market. 'Mom! Can we please get the Pocky!?'

spudnikAnd of course at a Chicago Printers Guild meeting at Baker Prints. She's part of the next generation of printers within this group and is always happy to entertain the littler ones that sometimes come. Uncle Nick and Auntie Nadine Sonnenzimmer brought her this incredible little zine about printmaking from Honolulu Printmakers where they had recently curated a show.

bakerprintsThis is the future home of Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. Deb has always been a great friend to me both as a printmaker and as a parent. Her philosophy about parenting and curiosity about her own (now grown) children has guided me through many deeper issues that have arisen over the years (Will my child hate me for not going to theme parks? Will she wish she had normal parents with 9-5 jobs? Is it okay she's an only child?). It's important to find a person that's a little farther down the road than oneself and she is the person for me.

cpc1We took advantage of a 'print jam' at Anchor Graphics to work with visiting artist Nuria Montiel. Jo was exposed to different cultures through the art of printmaking and conducted herself in a way that I was very proud of. She insisted on learning how to make xerox transfers and was not afraid to try her hand at etching presses.


columbia2Our own studio is a magnet for people I admire and who enjoy Jo's enthusiasm. Jessica Spring, one of my all time favorite printers and people, spent some time with us one afternoon. They worked together to figure out if we could get this little Dial-A-Letter typewriter working again. Another work in progress.

jessicaspringAnd of course it was a treat to have her in the studio at the same time as my former boss from Fireproof Press, John Upchurch. This is a very full circle photo for me, as Jo was able to enjoy spending time with a person that helped me pave my course in life, and whose parenting style I much admire.

johnupchurchRecently we hosted an event for Uppercase Magazine. Jo ran the Vandercook and showed others how to do so, including little Finley.


This note (with accompanying chocolate) was delivered from Deb at Chicago Printmakers after Jo and a friend hand brayered the final detail on posters we made for their 25th anniversary exhibit.


cpcpostersExposing Jo to the talent and tenacity of women working in the city is very important to me. She currently has very little understanding of what sexism is, and I feel that seeing the great achievements of women first will SHOW instead of TELL her what is ridiculous about it. Below was one of the incredible Ladies Luncheon meet ups hosted by Julie of Letterform. An entire group of ladies in all different design fields, sharing stories of woe and exhilaration in each of their careers.

ladiesluncheonEvery year I host the annual Starshaped Press dinner to thank interns and boosters for another year of making it work. At each dinner, everyone is required to share a major success or accomplishment of the past year along with a goal for the upcoming one. This way, we all keep each other on track and can be supportive when needed. Jo is now old enough to not interrupt but instead contribute; she shared work from her recent school activities. Here she is sitting next to 'Aunt Sarah' who saved me when Jo was first born and now has two small boys of her own.

starshapeddinnerThese are a few of the prints that Jo has created in the studio. Sometimes she just plays and sometimes they are more thoughtful. I am always anxious to see what she'll do next as she begins to understand the studio is full of little treasures waiting to be printed.

joprintsA series of the photos I took of her first printing session in 2010 is now framed at the Platen Press Museum, a place that has been crucial to developing my skill set as a printer. 'Uncle Paul' has always been incredibly generous to Jo and is very much another grandparent to her. His wife, Irene, takes Jo when I spend a day at the museum, which Jo looks forward to as it involves baking, making crafts and walks along the creek. Again, it's a village. One in which you get to choose all of your neighbors.

joatmuseumJo decided to revisit her Hamilton print when we got back from our trip and do a larger run in the studio. So much of this shows the nuances that she's picked up over the last 8 years, from how she feeds the paper to the gentle return.

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I don't have any great insight about combining parenting and a small business though I am often asked. I could say that we make it up as we go along, but that's not entirely true either, as some careful planning is in place to pull together the schedules of multiple people, meet deadlines and get some rest. Some days are blissful and we hum along with great records and inspiration. Other days I can't do anything with her in the studio, go home to sleep when she sleeps and then go back at 11pm when Mr. Starshaped gets home. There's no balance, just making it work. But we have a great support group and that is probably the most essential piece of the puzzle, coupled with a sense of humor and acceptance that overnight spray for the ink was invented for parents. This beautiful photo of Jo as the Hamilton Smokestack was taken by Celene Aubry from Hatch Show Print at the last Wayzgoose. Jo attached these clips with her traits on them. More than anything, I want her to grow up retaining all of these things: Butiful, Hevenly, Smart. Perfect.


*props to Sleater Kinney for the title of this post

Good Wood 2014

Every year we look forward to the annual Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum Wayzgoose, which attracts type nerds (i.e., all of our best friends) from around the world. And while the 'Goose usually only lasts about 3 days, this year, for us, it stretched to a week and spanned the distance between Two Rivers, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois. A few days prior to heading north, Jo and I set up and printed our pieces for the print swap (more on that later). I was thrilled to work with Moore Wood Type to design a series of snowflakes to be both laser and pantograph cut. Having just received my batch to print with, and knowing that Scott planned to take them to Hamilton to share, I put together this poster to showcase how fantastically well they look and print together. They'll be available for sale soon.


snowflakes2While I played around with snowflakes, Jo went straight for the stars and put together this great little number:

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It was such a treat to have longtime friend and printer David Wolske swing by on Wednesday. I put him to work, we shared some laughs and I got a sneak peek of what he'd be presenting at Hamilton. His work is stunning in its thoughtfulness, exploration and expert technique.

david1Thursday we welcomed Geri and Matt of Virgin Wood Type. Obviously, we had some fun. These folks eat wood type for lunch, so I took them out for pizza before it got ugly. Matt wrote a great post about the 'Goose that you can read here.

virgininstudioFriday we hit the airport to pick up this guy and head up to Trivers.


Once we made it to Hamilton, Jo immediately sought out her besties, Chelsea and Laura, who made her a very special badge this year, the only one with fancy hand lettering.


New this year is a wall featuring a mashup of Hamilton-related prints from just about everyone. Jo even found her Turtles print from the June 2014 APA Wayzgoose.



To keep a 7-year-old going all weekend I gave Jo my digital camera and unleashed her on the museum. She had a blast documenting everything and took dozens of charmingly blurry photos.



Also new this year is the substantial type wall which proved to be extremely photogenic (it's like they planned it).


I joined Erin Beckloff, mover and shaker extraordinaire as well as daughter to Scott Moore, in taking some great shots of David Shields and Rich. Wonder what their photos look like.


Later in the evening we heard from the chiefs: Stephanie, Jim and Bill. These three, along with a slew of eager volunteers really knocked it out of the park this year. Screens! Lighting! Backdrops! Sound! All pro.


Their intro was followed by Charles S. Anderson. If you've ever ordered paper from French Paper or pretty much just lived in the world, you're familiar with the work of CSA, so there's not much I can add!

After the image overload, I got a moment with Nick Sherman to check out the new book published by Tipoteca Italiana about their incredible collection of wood type. Needless to say, one of these came home with me.

nickshermanSaturday's schedule was too packed to see and experience everything. I sat in on David's formal presentation to get a chance to see his lovely work again.


Following that was a rousing discussion by Clint Harvey of Design College Australia and The Bacon Factory in Brisbane, Australia. They're doing amazing work to collect and preserve letterpress equipment Down Under, as well as present it to the next generation of designers.


Clint brought a number of sample prints featuring Australian slang. Then he challenged everyone to decipher them and write their ideas directly on the prints. Did anyone get them right, CH?


Meanwhile, Jo stationed herself with our Isle of Printing buddies from Pie Town (some people call it Nashville) and their Our Town portrait project. Throughout the weekend folks could sit down at a mirror and use clever stamps to create their own likeness which is then documented.


Jo's Cindy Sherman-esque self portrait.


After an evening banquet of chicken and milk (if you were there, you know), we headed back to the museum for a presentation from Tipoteca about the creation of their museum and the collection it houses. Let's just say we were all convinced to spend some time on the prosecco farm that serves as guest quarters for visitors to the museum. More of their incredible type porn below.

The last event of the evening (given that this is the censored version of the weekend's activities), is the annual type quiz hosted by Nick and David. This year, with the addition of the Hamilton Smokestack costume, a volunteer was needed. Guess who jumped in? Jo stood on a chair for an hour and pointed out those that raised their hands to answer the somewhat dubious questions in order to win typographic prizes.

smokestack2Sunday morning brought an impressive display and discussion of artistic watermarks from Greg Walters (is there anything he doesn't collect!?), as well as the entertaining giveaway of door prizes by Dave Peat. But by far, the most popular event is the print swap. So much good work to share with everyone.

printswap3Here's Geri of Virgin Wood Type with her beautiful layered wood type prints, as well as the newest typeface set out to tease. Thanks to Virgin, wood type can be everyone's passion. Looking on is Jason, otherwise known as Genghis Kern, or #thebeerisforscale in social media circles.

printswap2Jo signed just a few of her prints and took them around to share.

joautographMeeting of the wood type minds! Scott and Matt, all business. What secret wood type schemes are they hatching?

moorevirginErin's print this year was so lovely. Look what you can do with her dad's beautiful type! And she made me promise to show this photo and not the one of her getting into the whiskey. Like I mentioned, this is a G-rated blog.

erinI took the opportunity to grab a few shots with others wandering around. Selfie with the Morans!

jimjenbillWith David. So love this guy.

jendavid2And this lady! Mary is the killingest lady printer I know. New York attitude with a midwestern accent.

jenmaryJessica Spring... not content to push the boundaries of daredevil printing, she's now offering Daredevil Furniture for letterpress printers, meaning we can all create fantastically nutty lockups. A lady after my own heart, and the only one to make Hobo look brilliant.

jessicafurnitureJo got a lesson in sign painting from the incomparable John Downer, who is responsible for the sign on the front of the building. What a treat for mom and daughter, as well as everyone that looked on.

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johndowner2As promised, here's Silvio from Tipoteca signing my new book. Many of their stunning prints were on display. Are you ready for the type porn?



tipo3postersIt's always sad to leave on Sunday, knowing that it might be another year before we see a lot of the people that make this trip so special.


Before checking out we got a stamp on our Letterpress Trail map.


But this year was different! Because of Chicago's central location, a number of printers were still around to explore the city or have a little downtime before jetting off home. So Monday welcomed the Aussies, Clint and Tahlia, into the studio. Here's CH groveling at my feet! studiomonday3

Along with Clint and Tahlia, Michael from Clawhammer Press also came for a visit, securing his status as Friend by bringing really nice coffee. We talked letterpress for quite a while before I caught them escaping with type!


studiomonday2Later that evening I was able to organize the swag from Hamilton that Jo and I collected. Talented folks.

swagTuesday night, Rebecca of Rar Rar Press hosted a printer dinner and made stew for everyone. What an incredible group, and no one had to feel bad about talking type and presses all night. It's the one kind of party where print-themed alcohol shares a place on the table with actual type. And Rebecca's apartment is a veritable museum of letterpress awesomeness.

rarrarpartyUnbelievably, I convinced new friend Jessie Reich of Punky Press to stay all day Wednesday and work in the studio. Huzzah! She set one of our cityscapes for a series of cards and learned how the platen presses function. We swapped stories, metal & wood type and fist bumps. Here's to all of our new and old friends that made the 'Goose (as well as the before and after gatherings) so memorable this year. See ya in 2015. Hopefully before.



The APA Goose 2014

It's always a treat to drive up to Hamilton for a visit, especially when it involves seeing our print and type friends from the Amalgamated Printers Association, a group I've been a part of for 10+ years. After cutting school early, Jo and I hit the road. If this shot doesn't ring a bell, maybe this image from a favorite album will hint at our inspiration. Our little fiat is well traveled. hamiltonorbustAfter checking in (and yes, Jo gets a pretty special badge), we found our friend Scott from Moore Wood Type already at it, cutting type and doing demos for onlookers. He also brought a lot of his patterns for people to see so they could learn about the process of pantograph cut wood type.



patterns2Love these star patterns. You can see the 6 pointed Chicago style star (which Scott named 'Jo's star') down in the corner.

patterns3We found our friend Jason of Genghis Kern trying his hand at the pantograph.

jasonpantographAnother workshop about wood engraving was also going on, and everyone there carved into blocks that were ultimately cut as letters for Wayzgoose 2014.

woodengravingFriday I finally got the opportunity to teach a workshop with a longtime friend and talented printer, Jessica Spring of Springtide Press. We worked with our class on two projects: the first was to contribute a page to a meander book and the second was to print type as pattern to then cut and weave. Jessica led the way on the book, setting up the form on press and then demonstrating how to cut and fold the single sheet into a book.


ws2Here are a few of the serious ladies pulling type for the print and paper weaving.

ws7Here's our good friend Erin of Inky Winke trying her hand at a little opaque white ink.

ws5Our prints were a bit wet, but we were able to trim them down to start weaving together. This creates an entirely new kind of print that can be trimmed to a smaller, square size, functioning as a piece of art in its own right.

ws1Mary Alice used a few different sheets of paper for her prints (and some attendees swapped with each other), and ended up with a very patriotic weave.

ws6Rich from P22 (and also responsible for spearheading the digitization of Hamilton's type for the HWTF) was there, showcasing his latest project. Borrowing the Cloister Initial matrices from RIT's Cary Collection, he worked with Greg Walters in Ohio to cast whopping 120 point versions of the beautiful initials. Bringing a set to Hamilton to share, he also printed a broadside with all of them; you can see a snippet of it below with the S and P we came home with.


cloisterFriday night, Greg Walters (who cast the above initials) gave a talk about foreign type specimen books and brought a large selection from his personal collection. Below are just a few shots of the pages I found incredibly inspiring, including these magnificent brass rules printed in multiple colors.

spec1Greg mentioned many trends, including the predominance of art nouveau faces, which all but escaped American type founders. There were also many thick and heavy, multi-color patterns and borders.



spec5After the conference, I realized I didn't get any full shots of the group. Luckily, an APA group photo is always taken, and hopefully we'll see that soon. There's been a sea change in the APA. Can you guess what it is?

husbandcalledBefore checking out for the weekend, we got a little sneak peek at Tom Walker's incredible series of baseball-inspired pennant prints. Incredible and detailed work, with a hand built box to boot.

tomwalkerAs always, we had a great weekend in Two Rivers, and look forward to November when we're back again. And next year the APA Goose will be in Chicago, and it'll be incredible so mark your calendars.

Matching type nerds!


Mecca of the North

Of all the wonderful things that Fall brings, one of the most endearing is the annual gathering of printers and type enthusiasts that flock to the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. I've written about the museum here many times, and it was a treat to attend our second Wayzgoose there. The museum has had one hell of year, having to move from their location in the original Hamilton building to a new spot overlooking Lake Michigan. And they've done it up in style, with this classy sign painted with the humbling talent of John Downer. hamiltonoutsideLet's face it. The best thing about getting to Hamilton is the folks we meet. This is the only time during the year that I get to see some of the printers and type enthusiasts I admire from around the world, as well as meet new, up-and-coming craftspeople. One of those I greatly admire is Tracy Honn, from Silver Buckle Press in Madison, who provided this year's incredible poster:

hamiltonposterMore on that later. After first arriving at Hamilton, we had a lovely dinner with old and new friends. One of the old friends was Scott Moore of Moore Wood Type, along with new friend Phil Moorhouse, all the way from Australia. Here they are enjoying dessert and sketching details of wood type production.

scottphilFriday was workshop day, and I taught Mastering Metal and Wood Type Composition, hoping to help the attendees improve their game with typesetting, really look at spacing issues and work with various typefaces in one piece. The museum's new space is incredible, and a better fit for the direction in which they want to go. There are distinct areas set up as 'classrooms', and this was our area, outfitted with a number of sign presses and a substantial run of wood and metal type:


workshopspace2Here are a few of the happy printers and prints from the day. The first print immortalizes one of the statements I made while introducing the concepts we'd be covering in the workshop.



workshop9Talented and all around great guy, Brad Vetter, helped out in the morning. Here he is assisting with hand burnishing some of the peskier type from Arlene's form.

workshop1Clint and Tahlia made the trek all the way from Australia so they could use this giant quoin key.

clinttahliaAmy took on a simple form in the afternoon and it was very successful. She nitpicked the justification for some time and the result really paid off.


workshop6Which one is a 'P' and which is a 'd'? We printed a handful before catching it!

workshop4A print that takes my 'establish a visual hierarchy' rule to heart:


Saturday was lecture day! This time around, I was speaking about Documenting Type Forms in the studio. Here's one of the three enthusiastic groups that sat in on the discussion. Notice anyone intimidating in this crowd? Yep, I was sweating.

lectureThree of those intimidating people are right here. David Shields from Virginia Commonwealth, Paul Brown from Indiana University and Erin Beckloff from Miami University. Too much typographic knowledge for one photo. I'm surprised the camera didn't pop a spring.

lecture1Erin also brought this energetic crew of Miami students with her, in all their matching t-shirt glory.

lecture2While I was talking and answering questions, Jo was busy in the back printing up a storm! We packed her little homemade press and she created a number of pieces (hand illuminated, of course) for the Sunday print swap.


joprinting2I had the pleasure of meeting Geri from Virgin Wood Type... finally. You know you're in the right place when a little gem like this ends up in your apron pocket.

virginwoodtypeSunday morning presented one of the more thrilling moments of the weekend. The incomparable Dave Peat brought a large number of items to be given away as door prizes. You can see the crowd here, anticipating his talk about how different type forms can be created and the following giveaway.

davepeatThis entire table was set up with prize items. Books, presses, type, mystery boxes and candy... If these items were 'throwaway' to Dave Peat, imagine what his personal collection looks like.


doorprize2Greg Walters, another fine APA member, was on hand, along with Bill Moran and Stephanie Carpenter, to call names for the prizes. It was agreed that this was the best form of The Price Is Right. Come On Down without having to guess at pricing!


doorprize3Our new friend Tammy of Red Door Press from Iowa scored some large wood type.

tammyJudith Poirier also scored some lovely type. And looks who's looking on... it's John Risseeuw, an incredible papermaker and printer. I was delighted to meet him back in June at the Phoenix Wayzgoose.

judithpoirierLook who else scored something great! Jo picked out a small card press and couldn't have been happier. The dolphin was also a 'prize', so it was a good morning to be six years old.

jopressFollowing Dave Peat (though it's hard to do so), was the annual print swap. All participants grabbed a table on which to spread their wares and got an opportunity to talk about print projects, techniques and interesting tidbits related to the craft. Here's our friend Lorraine with a growing bundle of awesome samples.

printswap2The Miami students had a number of fun things to share, besides just smiles.

printswap1And here's Andy, the other half of Red Door Press, with some awesome prints and bookmarks to coordinate with his dapper printer's cap.

andyJo always has a keen eye for art that's worth investing in, and she didn't disappoint this time around. Here she is with her first Dafi Kuhne print. And of course, Dafi himself, who led experimental chipboard type workshops on Friday.

jodafiA gratuitous shot for me, it's Matthew Carter holding one of our type specimen prints. Fuzzy photo? Sure. But you'd shake, too, if a MacArthur Genius was holding something you made.

matthewcarterTwo of my favorite ladies in print, Martha Chiplis (who co-authored this informative book), and Jessica Spring of Springtide Press. Personal heroines.

marthajessicaLoved these little punch out kits for building letterforms!

solidtypeAmos Kennedy Jr. (don't let the tag fool you) and Rich Kegler take a print break to visit that new-fangled technology.

amosrickMore APA members! Bob Piontkowski and Rick Von Holdt dressed for success on Sunday.

bobrickIt's always hard to say goodbye and head home. Jo had a great time hanging out with my two helpers for the weekend, Brad Vetter and Dan Elliot. And yes, Richard Zeid photobombed the second image. But we're sure glad he did.


danjoAnd of course, the brains and heart behind the entire operation, Stephanie and Jim. The pure love for what they do coupled with a breakneck schedule for opening the museum cements the fact that this place is around to stay.

stephjimBy the end of the weekend, this was the Wayzgoose poster.

posterH. A little remnant of the old building, now living in the new. Yet another reminder that the building may change, but the spirit of preservation and good old-fashioned midwestern gumption will guarantee the success of a project, no matter how far fetched it might seem. While I like to think that we'll be at the museum again before the next Wayzgoose, that may not be the case. But the wait is made easier by the now constant connection to the friends we made while there, and that shared aspiration to become better printers, designers, typographers and teachers will sustain us all. Until next November.


Wood, Metal, Type, Irony

Starshaped rarely prints work that is not designed in the studio, given our mission of printing only with the metal and wood type we have. But every once in a while, a project comes along that offers a chance to combine our materials and knowledge with the talents of others in a collaborative way. You may be familiar with the Hamilton Wood Type Foundry's new initiative to digitize some of the gems of the Hamilton Wood Type Museum (we've played around with these before). The effort is spearheaded by P22, a type foundry I have long admired, so when they asked about printing some note cards that feature the new digital versions of some of the upcoming releases, saying Yes was the obvious answer. Four cards were planned to coincide with the theme of the AIGA National Conference in Minneapolis October 10th-12th, and would be given away at the Adobe booth, as three of the fonts featured are volunteer efforts by Adobe designers. The first, Gothic Round, will be in circulation before the conference begins, and the others have release dates over the next few months.

I love a little irony in our printing and this project is a great example. We were to print magnesium plates made from digital typefaces designed from the original wood type.

Thwtf3Just for fun, I pulled out some of our 8 line Gothic Round type to shoot with the plate for the first card:

Thwtf4Each card would also feature a subtle background texture printed from the wood type in our collection. Here's the lucky piece, which has a lovely grain:

ThwtfLong ago I discovered through trial and fail that it's better to print transparent-base inks over the darker, more prominent ink color. So for each of the four cards, the main color was printed first and the lighter background wood texture printed afterwards. This keeps the darker color from pooling on top of the lighter pass, and anything with a mostly transparent base will never compete with a dark, saturated ink. In order to make sure everything would line up, I created a template on a transparency that I could place over top of the first color:

transparencyThe color palette was solid, and each card coordinated with rich envelopes from French Paper. Here's the cheat sheet for matching inks.

inkswatchesThese are the final cards together, along with a close up of the pale wood type texture.



hwtf4The sets are to be given away at the AIGA conference, and I'm told Hamilton will also have some. These faces were exceptionally designed the first time around for their wood type form, and I can attest to the quality of the new digital versions. If you can't work with the real thing, grab yourself these digital versions and support Hamilton. We've got some big doings up there in another month... more on that later.