New Year, New Type

Starting a new year with a printed homage to great type is always a good idea. Starshaped scored a great deal of new metal and wood type this year and it's time it pulled some weight. So this year's New Year card features type from a few different metal type foundries alongside the snowflakes from our collaboration with Moore Wood Type. newyear1The idea was to take a standard rectangular form and make it appear as if the snowflakes were swooping in to break it apart. Below is a reversed image (so it's easy to read) of the main sections of the type form before separating them.

newyearHow about a typographic rundown? 'Wishing' is a new cast of Ray Shade by Hill & Dale Type Foundry in West Virginia. 'You A' and 'ew ear' are Latin Ornate and Tuscan Graille, both from Skyline Type Foundry. 'Starshaped Press Chicago' is 6pt Camelot and the N and Y initial caps have yet to be identified. 'Happy' is a mortised initial cap with Dakota. The three main borders are from Bixler Letterfoundry, courtesy of Punky Press, coupled with tiny bits and pieces from our collection.

After a quick carbon paper proof of the forms, I scanned them so that I could figure out the best angles and build the rest of the piece digitally. This is the cheat sheet printed out with the placement of the sections and snowflakes. It is marked up to determine the measurements of the angled furniture I needed to cut to square up the sections.

cheatsheetHere you can see the angled furniture that holds the sections in place and keeps them flush with the rest of the form.



cornerformI first pulled a few proofs on the actual paper with the entire form to set up placement and look for any wacky spacing issues. After that was established, I took out all of the second color, leaving just the sections to be printed in burgundy. I marked the spacing with a sharpie so I would remember what I added in place of the type that was there.

burgundyformThe burgundy read well on Wrought Iron, dark gray stock from Neenah's Environment line. It matched the Paver Red envelopes from French Paper. Printing dark inks on dark papers can always be a bit of a crap shoot but this worked well. Silver is a no-brainer. The registration is pretty tight, and given the angles in play here, that's impressive.


newyear4Next up were the snowflakes. I trimmed most of mine to be as close to the edge of the design as possible so that they could almost sit on top of each other.

snowflakesFiguring out what ink they'd be printed in was more challenging. My first thought was opaque white so I could test how this would perform on the gray paper. But the white competed with the silver and the type receded, which was definitely not desirable. So I tried transparent white as well as variations on this with differing degrees of silver and black mixed in. The final was a combination of all of these.

testingsnowflakesWhile the snowflakes were set up on press, I used them to print the front of the envelopes as well, where they appear a little darker on burgundy stock. The silver on these is particularly striking. More great initial caps.

newyear5I was very pleased with how the cards turned out, as they hit all of my bases for typography as well as great paper and ink combinations. The challenges of setting this form were also very pleasing and it's great to see both old and new type functioning on a heightened level. One of the plans for the studio this year is to really highlight some of the gems of the Starshaped collection and use them in similar ways to how they would have been used 100 years ago, but with (hopefully) a modern breath of fresh air.


Sky's the Limit

How great is it that metal and wood type are still manufactured today, albeit by a small group, and that we call these makers our friends? For years Starshaped has enjoyed a strong relationship with Skyline Type Foundry, run by Sky Shipley. Formerly in southern Illinois and now in Arizona, Sky has consistently cast quality type on his Thompson casters, and I've been buying it up almost as fast as he can create it. The time had come for a collaboration and here it is! Working exclusively with Skyline type, I built this behemoth form of ornaments and type. The quote is one provided by Sky, and one of his favorites (and did I mention appropriate?). TskylineinstaThe idea for the print was to form an actual piece of type, or sort, out of hundreds of smaller pieces of actual type, and then to print it to look like a shiny piece of type. I decided to create an angle in the design and then print in three shades of silver to give it a textured and luminous feel. After an initial proof all in one color, I subdivided it into the three color sections. Pictured here is the last and lightest silver run.

skyline5My first thought was to create the text block in a circular form to mimic a pin mark, but Sky doesn't cast his type with pin marks, so I left it rectangular and set (nearly) solid and force justified to fill the space inside the piece of type. This was also a great place to put the non-border ornaments that Skyline offers.

Tskyline4Sky has used many great slogans over the last ten years, including 'Set Your Byline in Skyline' and 'Real Printers Don't Use Plastic', but was always a fan of one of our favorites, 'All Metal, All the Time'. So it seemed like a no-brainer to include that one, given the nature of the project. Below are a few of the gorgeous 19th century faces cast in recent years.


skyline2Here's the final print. Sky has often said that he loves to see what his 'kids' are doing at 'Camp Starshaped'. Well, this summer, camp was particularly awesome. The poster is available for purchase here, though the edition is very small and won't last. Get one today!



Congrats on 10 years in the business, Sky! We're all anxiously waiting to see what comes out of your casters next. Below is a wonderful group photo of my favorite makers taken at the APA Wayzgoose in June 2014, starting with Matt, Geri and Derek of Virgin Wood Type, Sky in the middle, Scott Moore of Moore Wood Type and Rich Kegler of P22 Type Foundry. Long live the type founders!


Phoenix Welcomes the Goose

The Amalgamated Printers Association (APA) is one of the great organizations that I've been a part of for the last ten years. It's a group of 150 printers that range from hobby to professional, and issues a monthly 'bundle' of print samples from members in the group. Every year they host a Wayzgoose (a traditional printers gathering) in a different location around the country. This year the Goose was held in Phoenix and I was one of the members asked to speak. The weekend features hands on demos and workshops along with lectures and hospitality (great chance to share printing tips!), as well as a great swap meet, auction and banquet. When there's time, it's possible to visit the shops and studios of members in the group that live in the vicinity. This year's Goose was packed with great events! Clearly, though, the hotel didn't ask any members to contribute signage: privatesignOn Friday, there were a number of great presentations at Letterpress Central, the home of Cindy and Gary Iverson, who kindly opened up their impressive paper and print studio to all APA'ers. One of my favorite lectures was by Kseniya Thomas, the co-founder of Ladies of Letterpress and the owner of Thomas Printers which were the topics of her presentation.

kseniyaSaturday morning is always a highlight because it starts with a big swap meet. This year was fabulous... so much type to choose from, both old and new. Below is a shot of the Letterpress Things table, and some of the type I couldn't get enough of. There's also newly cut wood type from Stan Harris and the beautiful ornaments of Moore Wood Type.



swapmeet1Here are some of the treats I added to the Starshaped collection:



agencygothicAfter the swap meet there's an auction of even more goodies. Had to get a rough shot of Dave Peat at his finest here!

davepeatauctionSaturday evening there was a banquet for all of the members and guests and we were treated to BBQ this year. Here's a shot of our fine organizers wearing the printers caps they made for everyone. From left to right is Jeryl Jones, Mike O'Connor, Cindy and Gary Iverson.

organizersHere are the Bauders, local to Arizona. They ran a print shop together for 33 years and just celebrated their 60th anniversary. Chatting with them was a highlight of the trip.

baudersThis is the venerable Don Black of Don Black Linecasting fame in Toronto. He knows a whole lot about printing equipment, and even more about the Canadiens.

donblackOur guest speaker for the evening was a real treat. John Risseeuw outlined his fine career in printmaking and teaching and brought along a lot of stunning examples of his work and the work of his students.

johnriseeuwThese are a few of the pieces from a series on landmines and their effects on the people who live in their path. Absolutely incredible technique, layering and use of materials, not to mention the social impact of the printed word. Read more about it here.


riseeuwAfter dinner there was more time for socializing in the hotel and more chatting about printing and presses.

hospitality2Here's a motley crew representing many lifetimes of printing and type knowledge!


stickitOne of the lucky things that came together for the weekend was that former Starshaped intern, Claire, who left Chicago for LA, was able to meet up and join in on the fun. Here she is enjoying an animated conversation with Don. You can find her work at Small Press LA and VIA.

clairedonOn Sunday we headed up to Skyline Type Foundry. If you've seen any work that's come out of Starshaped, then you've seen the results of Sky's typecasting adventures. His shop and foundry are the gold standards for organization, layout and quality in production.

skyline1Sky, along with Dave Macmillan, had two casters up and running to show everyone the process of casting metal type. The equipment is meticulously maintained and in great shape, so it goes without saying that the results are stunning. Good hard type in hard to find faces!





skyline2Sky preps the type on galleys by sort so that it can easily be fonted up into classy little boxes and sold.


skyline6There is also a space for the press and type collection.

skyline12Shopping! All of the type options for sale were out for all to see. It was like being a kid in a candy store. So many choices!



There are also lots of fun bits and pieces of type history floating around the shop.



skyline17One of the highlights of the visit for me was picking up a complete set of Sky's newest casting, Arboret in 12 and 24 point along with a set of ornamental pieces to accompany the typeface. This is an incredible face with many options for constructing literal arbors or anything you can imagine. Below is the print Sky created to showcase the type along with the form for printing.



This is one of my favorite shots; two Starshaped Rock Stars in one place! Sky of Skyline Type Foundry and Scott from Moore Wood Type. The enthusiasm of these two along with that of the rest of the crew in Phoenix was really inspiring and breathed new life into forthcoming Starshaped projects. Looking forward to next year's Goose!