One of the newcomers to our staff is Rachel. A cheery team-member who cuts our Flurry paper and ships our supply orders, she loves to send snail mail. Since she has joined us, she has her eye on letterpress cards that bring a laugh, Rachel shares with us her round-up of humor-filled prints to make anyone’s day. Let us know which one is tickling your funny bone in the comments below!
Nothing makes us more proud and excited when we learn about young printers and poets in the schools getting a chance to put their hand to a press. The sixth grade students of Mount Desert Elementary School (Mount Desert Island, Maine) experienced the joys and challenges while printing their own poetry this past year. The project was led by writing teachers Ms. Mariah Baker and Ms. Maria Simpson combined with artists/printers Nikki Moser and Katherine Emery. Read on to hear all about the group’s instruction in hand-set type, printing with photopolymer plates, bookbinding, and the fun that went into the Call of the Robin letterpress printed book project.
KATHERINE EMERY: I had met my daughter’s writing teacher, and she told me about a month-long poetry project the 6th graders were working on, and how it had transformed their attention and energy. It was a positive place to put their worries about the world. She was trying to do something special for them as an end-of-the-year project.
On impulse, I offered to help them print their poems. I got Nikki to agree to use her press and then persuaded the teachers to agree to bring the class for printing. I volunteered to help layout the poems for photopolymer plates, and then helped the students sew the books together.What a day when the kids walked to Nikki Moser’s artist studio and pulled prints on a tabletop press. After the students bound their final books, they signed their poems in the editions.
Teacher MS. MARIA SIMPSON: After the “Call of the Robin” poetry book was completed, we read the poems to the 2nd graders and it was so moving – each kid read their poem with feeling and passed a printed book hand to hand.
Then the kids gave the second graders advice about writing their own poems. One student, Kohl, had this advice,“Sometimes, when I got stuck, I would take a little walk. Then I would come back and write from my heart.”
It was an inspiring project that the students and I will remember for a long time. I look forward to doing it again!
STUDENTS’ REACTIONS AND REFLECTIONS
PIERCE HOLLEY:This experience was super fun and I loved that we got to be writing and doing art at the same time! It was really cool to be doing the printing instead of just using our computer like we always do. This would be an amazing activity for others.
LANAIA McDANIELS:I really enjoyed the printing project. It was super fun to do, and I got to learn new and interesting things. The best part about it was learning how to use the printingpress. It was fun to see and use it because I never knew about a printing press and the history behind it.
Kemy: I got to learn from Nikki and Katherine the basic skills behind printing and making my own book. It was very fun and I got to be with my friends trying new things.
HELAYNA SAVAGE:I loved writing poetry with Ms. Baker and Ms. Simpson. We did a lot of different types of poetry and close to the end we went to a place where we used a printing press. Best thanks to Katherine Emery and her work partner.
CORINNA JOHNSTON: I learned how printing is made and I really liked getting to print my own poem.
PHOENIX SWEET: With Katherine and Nikki, I had fun learning to bind a book, I also enjoyed putting ink on, learning to use, and printing my poem on the printing press.
We’re proud to share their story and hear how printing enriched these students and inspired fellow printers to reach out to their community. Huge round of applause out to Katherine, Nikki, and both teachers for getting their students invigorated about being on press and creating a lasting project. As Katherine beautifully stated about the project: “the 6th graders [were] over the moon to be out in the sunshine, celebrating words, and using beautiful old machinery to honor their inner voices.”
I think we can all agree letterpress fits the dictionary definition of niche (a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service), but when we gather as a community as we love to do, we feel dynamic, vibrant, and that we are at the peak of the printing heap.
To start, our presses are beautiful and have stood the test of time, our printing papers are luxurious and rainbow gorgeous, and our type options number in the thousands. We can carve a lino block or make a polymer plate or handset some letters and in relatively little time, make a beautiful print or a thought-provoking broadside. Is it any wonder we feel a little heady when we can print?
Now, put one or more of us together in the same place and we can get giddy. Boxcar Press was a vendor at the Lancaster .918 Club Printer’s Fair in Lancaster, Pennsylvania this past weekend. We brought our wares to showcase and sell, however, we really love the conversations, the demonstrations, and finding a tool and printed piece we need in our own collection. We joke as we leave that we may be going home with more than we brought. And we are happy about it.
This is the way of “our kind” at our Conferences, our Wayzgoose’s, print demonstrations and field trips. I personally enjoy the people interactions and hearing their stories. Just a sampling form this weekend:
The Amish printer who works for a group that prints Russian books that go to the Ukraine. There are 11 million ethnic Russians who live in the Ukraine. His group is still shipping books despite the war and, as you can imagine, those books are moving about the country as the people are moving around.
A long time customer from North Carolina, Brian closed his shop and moved up to Philly in 2019. Cue the pandemic and he laid low. Now he is helping a community print shop with letterpress and press instruction.
Some beginner printers looking for the supplies for their new love of letterpress. They pick up a few items and tips and leave us with their enthusiasm. Always get revved up for the new printers.
Putting a face to customers who were names and voices for over a decade. It is so good to really meet them and connect.
Visiting with other vendors with their new wares and new projects – yes, we will buy that calendar and that print and those cards, thank you very much.
Marveling over the long rows of printing presses like soldiers and the type drawers and impressive equipment at the Ken Kulakowsky Center for Letterpress and Book Arts. And talking with Ken himself.
Being pleasantly surprised by visitors who aren’t printers and may have a vague connection to print (publishing, marketing, artists) but thought this Fair sounded intriguing. We hope we passed on some of our passion and introduced them to a new artisan craft. Thanks for letting us talk on and on.
Welcoming fellow Boxcar employees who drove the 8 hour round trip to surprise and support us and get their own firsthand taste of the letterpress printing fair experience. What a blast!
Chatting with everyone’s favorite supplier, John Barrett of Letterpress Things . What an impressive array of table top presses. If you are looking, check with John.
We can’t encourage you enough to attend a printers fair or a Letterpress Conference (shout out to the Ladies of Letterpress this week for their conference). There is so much to catch your eye and to marvel over if your heart is in letterpress printing. Look for a chapter of the American Printing History Association near you and join and go to their events. Visit the various printing museums around the country and the world or a Book Arts Center. Take or teach a workshop so the teaching and learning go on. And thanks for bringing Boxcar Press along on your letterpress journey.
We scouted out for your gifting pleasure some of the most delightful & heartfelt Mother’s Day gifts & cards. Peruse the many items here that show your affection for the #1 Mom in your life. Catch something we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
Fellow letterpress lovers – please enjoy these images at your next Zoom meeting . Download the file and upload to your ZOOM settings in your account. [Hint: Right-click on a photo and save the file to your local desktop.]
We’ll be revealing one each day so come back + check in often!
Need help applying these cool ZOOM backgrounds to your next meeting?Easy-to-follow instructions are at this link. The artwork is intentionally flipped. This will show right-reading text when you are using your camera in your ZOOM meeting.
This will be perfect at these upcoming events: -Ladies of Letterpress Virtual Conference – September 25-27, 2020 -Awayzgoose at Hamilton Wood Type – November 5-8, 2020
Monday, September 14th, 2020 Free Download: Heidelberg Windmill
Tuesday, September 15th, 2020Free Download: Manicules
Wednesday, September 16th, 2020 Free Download:Vandercook
Thursday, September 17th, 2020 Free Download:Wooden Ornaments
Friday, September 18th, 2020 Free Download:Vandercook Bed Height Gauge
Welcome to Coffee with a Letterpress Friend. We are “sitting down” with many varied friends every few weeks for a cozy, relaxing chat. Certainly, we will ask questions about printing-related topics but things could go off in unexpected directions. This week during Letterpress Week, we’ll gather with a few folks, so go grab your beverage of choice and let’s start.
Today’s friend is Jim Moran of Hamilton Wood Type (HWT) in Two Rivers Wisconsin. Many of us are envious of his job at the Museum surrounded by the history and all those wood type specimens.
Boxcar Press: Hi Jim, Is there one defining moment that you can recall or point to that was the start of your printing career?
Jim: I was 10 years old and goofing around in my grandfather’s print shop. I had seen both he and my Dad setting type, so I had an idea how it worked. I opened a drawer of 18pt. Cheltenham and tried to spell my name. Where the hell was the letter J? I checked other drawers until I found one marked in pencil to designate their place. Once I set my name, I put it on a little Challenge proof press and inked it up. The black ink was always ready for proofing with a brayer hung on the end. The paper had an enamel finish for clarity. I inked up and pulled a proof! There was my name, magically! That’s all it took.
Boxcar Press: We can relate to that feeling. Is there a similar moment for your involvement with HWT?
Jim: I was working for a Green Bay printer 12 years ago and not liking it much. Sales in NOT rewarding, in my mind. I had been volunteering at Hamilton with my brother Bill, often thinking about how much I enjoyed working with type. I met a woman who was dating my cousin and we were talking about doing the things you really want to, in a general way. She said, “I think you have to ask yourself what you want and how much of your time you actually spend working toward doing those things.” She was not speaking to me specifically but I decided right then, that I would work toward getting a job at the museum. I applied for the job 6 weeks later.
Boxcar Press: Your Aha! moment. You are well suited to HWT. Tell us about mentors or printers that you admire or set you on a particular path?
Jim: I owe so much to my Dad. He was a VERY good printer and an even better artist. He worked me pretty hard, in that he expected my best and was extremely thorough in his approach to what I learned. That meant printing, repairing, composing, estimating, managing, laughing, reading and studying. Always learning. I worked with him for the better part of 29 years. My Mom’s lessons were much more subtle: patience, kindness, reading and keeping a sense of humor.
Boxcar Press: The people who guide us are always significant. So can be the equipment. Tell us about a press you remember fondly (or not so fondly) or one you have now that you prefer to use?
Jim: I have an 8 x 12 Chandler and Price that I was taught to run in 1969. I use it whenever I can.
Boxcar Press: What is that one project that you are always going to get to, that you really want to do but it just never seems to get done?
Jim: Printing a four-color billboard.
Thanks, Jim for the little chat. We appreciate this time of getting to know you and will have plenty more questions to ask at future times when the coffee is perked and we can sit again.
It’s hard to put into words how much our world has changed (both locally and globally) in just a short period of time. We struggle to keep up with daily reports and advisements. However, out of this comes sharing and goodness from those around us and our own printing community.
Here at Boxcar Press, we’d like to share with you a little bit of that goodness offered online (from a safe social distance in these times). It’s inspiring to know that there are good folks out there spreading some cheer!
If you’d like to shine the spotlight on someone, let us know! We’d love to hear from you!
Live Daily Readings of Children’s Books With Mary Bruno(of Bruno Press) via Instagram. Come share a good time from Minnesota with Mary every day starting at 12 Noon Central Time!
Wilderness of Social Distancing letterpress card from Waterknot Press (from Portland, Oregon).
Waterknot will be offering a buy 4 get one free special on their website — indefinitely. No code required. Just put 5 cards in your cart and you will only be charged for 4 of them. (via their IG account)
Free Downloadable Color Book PDF – cool creatures and fantastic beasts from Isaac Bidwell of Pickled Punks. Grab a set of crayons and have some fun from this fellow Syracuse-based artist!
(Fun fact: Isaac Bidwell is an artist that works in the same building as us — the Delavan Center in Syracuse, NY!).
Spring Ephemerals of New York State “Color Your Own Letterpress Print” from Lion Tail Press of Ithaca, New York.
Laurin Ramsey (via IG): “Hey friends! In these uncertain times, when so many of us are isolated indoors, it’s more important than ever to bring beauty and sunshine in however we can. Spring is coming, so I’ve created my first “color your own” letterpress print for us adults and kids, too! Printed on 100% cotton, acid-free paper, this takes beautifully to watercolors, colored pencils, markers, or whatever coloring tool strikes your fancy. Keep for yourself to brighten your home, or send to a loved one who could use some comfort.
Starting today, I’m also offering a 15% site-wide discount at liontailpress.com, when you enter code SHOPSMALL at checkout. This COVID discount also applies to LP e-gift cards AND custom design work going forward! Thank you so much for your continued love and support through this time, for reaching out to loved ones and neighbors, taking good care of yourselves, and taking all of it one day at a time. We’re in this together!”
Watch“Making Faces: Metal Type in the21st Century” for free via Vimeo. Grab a bowl of popcorn, your favorite snack & enjoy the beautifully documented film on making metal type by P22 Type Foundry and Rich Kegler (Rochester, New York).
Daily Art Challenge. Stretch those creative muscles daily with Raven’s Wish Gallery art challenge! Raven’s Wish (in Janesville, Wisconsin) posts daily on their Facebook the next thing to make, post, photograph, or do! There is sure to be a challenge theme that will rev your artistic juices.
Try A New Printing Technique (or Revisit a Favorite One!) Have fun pulling out some of your printing and printmaking books to brainstorm a new print project. Need ideas? The Printmaking Ideas Book by Frances Stanfield and Lucy McGeown is chock full of great projects!
Printing With Kitchen Items Can’t get to your press? Never fear – embrace your wooden or kitchen spoon to make a print! You’ll use the metal or wooden spoon as a baren to make fun, fantastic prints!
These suggestions are a drop in the bucket of all the ideas out there for creativity, entertainment, and boredom-fighting while you isolate and distance. Share yours with us! We’re curious to see what you’ve got going on!
Mark Barbour of the International Printing Museum highlights unique printing presses, fun printing trivia, and fantastic finds in the Carson, California museum. Come take a look!
The International Printing Museum in Carson, California, just south of downtown Los Angeles, is home to one of the largest collections of working antique printing presses in the part of this world that enjoys a type height of .918! Besides an extensive collection of metal and wood type, somewhere around 5,000 fonts, the Printing Museum is also home to some very unusual and rare printing presses.
Of particular interest, while we focus this week on letterpress and type high, are the platen presses in the museum’s collections, presses that became the workhorse and the staple of every printing shop in America during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today’s book artists and letterpress enthusiasts are well familiar with the C & P Press, well described as the Ford 150 of printing presses. But have you heard of Gordon and his dream with Ben Franklin that birthed the modern platen press? Have your fingers ever been close to Gordon’s early press known as an Alligator (for good reason!)? What about Ruggles and his Jobber that made it to the California goldfields, and has a story to tell about Alcatraz and the Civil War? Or maybe the press that took you to the stars in 1875, known as the Asteroid?
In celebration of Type High Day and letterpress everywhere, this is an invitation to explore the stories of these very unique and rare platen presses of the 19th century with Curator Mark Barbour of the International Printing Museum… just click on the link to his video blog (his apologies for the quality and the sound…not enough makeready on the morning of .918!)
Jim Moran of Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum recounts a day in his life at this stunning printing museum. Housing aisles upon aisles of history, craftsmanship, and deep printing roots, the Museum is a testament to the old (and new) ways printing remains such a treasured part of our culture.
I always get to the museum first thing in the morning. Maybe I need to slowly gather my thoughts but there’s something else.
Turning on the lights, I take a long walk in this place. I’m trying to see everything and what needs to be done. The sander for half-rounds has a coil of wires that I’ve never liked and ought to be cut off. There is a display of patterns that seem to have been cut a hundred years ago and they seem more like sketches in wood. The pencil marks are precise as an architect’s. And why cedar? What an awful wood to cut cross-grain. Who did them? Could it have been a William Page employee that Hamilton brought here?
Among the type displays, I pause in front of Arabesque. The smoky strokes seem sixty-ish and I think of Janis Joplin posters. The row of platen presses are out of order. They should be chronological. Some need rollers, the treadle on the Challenge should be reconnected, there’s no tympan paper on a few and what could I lock up in their chases to explain the process better.
In the “Central Room”, I dislike the name itself for being non-descript. I want to cover the walls behind the linotypes with newspaper pages from back in the day. Nearby, a Miehle is too gummed up with ink and grease and a Heidelberg serves mostly as a source to rob parts from. When will I get the ruling machine running again?
Now in the staff pressroom, I’m tempted to put on an apron and run posters of horse races all day long. Maybe all week. The blocks are frozen in action of galloping hooves that will only come to life in printing. They may not have seen ink since the 50s. I wonder about registering their colors and the thrill of the first print that’s never left me since age 10 when I first set and printed my own name. Magic! Random type cases lean in small spaces, hoping to be filled again with Caslon or Engraver’s Text. I think there’s a cabinet in the back they’ll fit into but I resist the urge to check.
The classroom lights snap on and I read each switches name; House left, House center, House right. The names mean nothing until Wayzgoose, which reminds me I need to create a backdrop for the presenter’s stand. Before I can do that there are boxes of blocks, mostly musician based, that have to be archived but not today. Better to prep for a workshop this weekend and replace those lights in the corner of the room.
Finally, in the gallery, everything is lit and I look over the exhibit again. It’s a good show that I’m lucky to consider for many days. I should look at new emails. Staff will arrive soon and there’s bound to be something I ought to be doing. Maybe printing horses.
For more information and fun about the wonderful Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum please visit their Facebook and Instagram pages!