Ravenswood Outdoor Movie Night

Last night we were invited to print at the Ravenswood Outdoor Movie Night at Bethany United Church of Christ. It was the perfect night for printing while we waited for the sun to go down and for ET to start. In honor of the film's theme, we set up little envelopes on which the kids printed a famous line from the movie, and then stuffed them with Reese's Pieces. A big hit with kids and adults alike! And while Jo went to town printing the envelopes, these little cuties took to distributing them to the crowd so everyone could enjoy a treat. We'll see you next month at Toy Story!

Success... and setback

Well, we had every intention of getting the Press Bike out on Lakeshore Drive this Sunday for the always awesome Bike the Drive event, in which the entire Lakeshore Drive is shut down to cars and opened to bikes only. However, our little Sigwalt had other plans. Whether it was the humidity or our relative inexperience making the little guy work well, the printing was just not happening and we had to scrap it for the day. We'll be taking the press back to the studio to make a few more tweaks this week so we can get to printing asap! In the meantime, here are a few shots of the fabric signage we made for the sides and back of the bike. Maybe we'll add a little flag? Also, Jo got a killer new apron to match.

Final Assembly

Today Jo and I set up our little Sigwalt to print for the first time. It needs a few tweaks, but is well on its way to printing for our Press Bike. Our first print is on sticker stock (what kid doesn't love stickers?), and is bike themed to coordinate with our first event... more on that tomorrow!

Jo chose type to create the fabric signs for the sides and backs of the bucket of the bike, which we printed in happy red on yellow gingham (each letter is 5" tall, and represents our largest wood type in the studio).

Our signage is finished, and the press is ready to roll! The big reveal is coming soon.

Bikes? Letterpress? Yes Please.

You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow.  ~H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance In the fall of 2010, we purchased one of Madsen's sweet cargo bikes, in a lovely warm yellow. It quickly became our main source of transport, riding miles every day between home, school and work. We carried boxes to UPS, groceries from the farmers markets and occasionally other children for short joy rides through the park.

Since 1999, I've run Starshaped Press, a full time, old fashioned letterpress shop in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood, focusing on the original craft of printing entirely with antique wood type, metal type and linoleum cuts that are part of the studio's collection. On New Year's Eve, 2006, my daughter, Jo, came into the world with a bang, and hasn't let up since. At 5, she is starting to wholeheartedly participate in the day to day activities of running Starshaped, including cleaning and maintenance, organizing type and yes, a little bit of printing.

At some point in the last year, the idea of turning our beloved bike into a mobile printing unit for kids came to be. We talked about how it would work, what kind of press to use, what to print and where to go. And now it's coming together! I found a small 3x5 Sigwalt press, not too heavy or awkward for children, and enlisted the help of Mr. Starshaped to build a strong 'shelf' that can both showcase and protect the press when not in use. Jo and other children can sit on the seat in the bucket and easily reach the handle of the press to pull prints.

The shelf flips over when the press isn't in use so that it can be stored under the surface.

We'll be printing the banners to wrap around the outside of the bucket this weekend so that everyone knows what our mobile press bike is all about! Can't wait for a summer full of printing adventures and making new friends.