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:

[wpvideo oytXOAai]

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.

[wpvideo E5TX3MNg]

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.



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.


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!


The Hamilton Wayzgoose 2012

This weekend we attended the annual Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum's Wayzgoose, or printers gathering. It was an unbelievable experience chock full of some of the greatest printers, designers, bookbinders and enthusiasts from around the world. While Chicago has always had a supportive printmaking community, much of it revolves around screenprinting, which leaves us letterpress folks a bit off to the side. The wayzgoose presented the opportunity to be completely in our element, talking about the intricacies of metal and wood type as opposed to screens and rubylith!

Many of our old friends were in attendance, including these two: Celene, recently transplanted from Chicago to Nashville to work at Hatch Show Print (many alumni of Hatch were in attendance), and Rich of P22/WNYBAC fame.

Rebecca from Rar Rar Press right here in Chicago (showing her killer new pennants):

And Erin of Inky Winke alongside Dave Peat, a man with one of the most incredible collections of type I've ever seen in print:

Sunday morning we had the privilege to hear about the Globe Collection that Hamilton now houses. This was a job shop located in Chicago (with sister shops in Baltimore and St. Louis), that created some of the hardest working posters in show business. The last was a real treat to see, as it was printed for a carnival 5 minutes away from where I grew up.

Here's Erin demonstrating what happens when your husband is out of the country... you cozy up to a vintage halftone image of Marvin Gaye!

The event also featured a print swap which was a fantastic way to see what everyone's been up to this year. We took our new self promotional packs and open house posters (more on those later this week...), and Printers Devil Jo took our collaborative Family Canning posters. The man with the camera is none other than Scott from Moore Wood Type, one of the few folks in the country creating new wood type.

Amos Kennedy Jr. was there to get folks on press, and lots of esoteric prints were floating around everywhere...

As the youngest participant, Jo met a lot of new friends, including Bill Moran, the Artistic Director at Hamilton. Here they are discussing the Press Bike and how they could create a stationary bike that prints stationery at the museum. She also autographed prints during the swap and got a picture with Brad Vetter, her new favorite printer.

What a whirlwind of a weekend, and an honor to be involved with so much talent and creativity in one room. Hoping that inspiration translates into some new awesomeness in the Starshaped studio. And on a slightly downer note, Hamilton's future isn't clear; the building in which the museum is housed is now empty and for sale, and they will most likely need to move in the Spring. Please help them out... spread the word, donate time or money, do what you can. This is an American treasure that needs to survive.

And in conclusion, would any trip to Wisconsin be complete without this?

Thanks to all the entertaining Packers fans in our hotel!