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!


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.


The Annual Platen Press Museum Type Sale

If you have any interest in the history of printing, the Platen Press Museum is a must see place in Zion, Illinois (about an hour north of Chicago). It's run by Paul Aken, who is very much a mentor and booster of all things Starshaped. My relationship with Paul goes back many years to when I routinely went to the museum to help identify type and learn as much as possible about printing. Every Spring Paul hosts a type sale at the museum to clean out many of the duplicate typefaces, as well as other bits and pieces necessary to the craft. For the last two years, the sale has also include complete tabletop and sign presses, all set up and ready to print. If you're just getting started, or looking for a few missing things that would make your print practice that much better, this is a not-to-be-missed event. Today I went up to Zion to help identify, label and price some of the type that will be available. I'm thrilled to say there are some real gems set to go for the sale!

Here are the details:

Saturday, May 4th, 2013  ·  9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Cases, Type, Tools, Supplies, Toy Presses, Books, Bits and Bobs

Table Top Presses (Pilots, Sigwalts, Kelseys) with new rollers and a starter kit

3051 Sheridan Rd.  ·   Zion, IL 60099

847-746-8170  *  847-731-1945  *

One Day Sale   -   No Shipping

Here's a tease of just a few of the typefaces that are fonted up for sale. Type is also sold by the pound in cases, and there are blank cases as well. You really can't beat the prices (type ranges from $10-$100), not to mention the company of fellow printers that will be shopping. Hope to see you there!





Anatomy of a Move

This past weekend I traveled up to the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum (again) to help with one of their volunteer move events. As you may know, they need to move from their current location (the original home of Hamilton) to a new space in Two Rivers by April first. If you've ever moved any printing equipment and/or type, then you know what a monumental task this is on a small scale let alone 30,000 square feet of printing history. Jim and Stephanie, the museum directors, have put a great and organized system together for labeling each piece for the move, and an impressive amount of packing has already taken place. I got a chance to walk around and get a few great shots of the current state of progress. If you've been to the public area of the museum, this will look familiar. The system for packing involves shrink wrapping pallets in colors coordinating with where the pieces are at the current location. Many of the displays have been removed and are awaiting pallets.




Not only do you get to see the organization of these final staging areas (this is just one), but the sheer scale of the building itself.




Some very large wood type ready to go.


Pallets full of half rounds that could be (and hopefully will?) be used to create new wood type.



My job involved packing up the bits and pieces for printing (leads, reglets, furniture, etc.), as well as organizing the type cases in preparation for packing on the second floor of the building. This was a delightful job as I got to use years of experience with moving type as well as peek at many fabulous (and fabulously dirty) wood typefaces, some of which are here:







Found this type set in its case like this. And yes, I was.


This ampersand is approx. 5" tall.


There is also a fair bit of metal type at the museum, and this was a treat to find. It's 48 pt. Spread, a typeface we have at Starshaped in a tiny 8 pt version. Just lovely.


The back of one empty type case. We have some similar styles of written labels in the studio, though ours are from Chicago.


Our first load of wood type on a pallet, ready for labeling, shrink wrapping and banding. There is a sheet of bubble wrap and cardboard in between each case for extra protection.


We may not be up again until after the move and hope that all continues to go well. Money still needs to be raised and you can still help. And the always lovely Mari will gladly ship orders of some of the awesome prints and souvenirs you can find in their shop. Let's hope our next post about Hamilton involves a happy new homecoming and opening celebration!