Welcome to Part 1 in a series of blogs that celebrate the Print Museum. We are happy to introduce you to places that preserve, collect and offer hands-on opportunities to learn about printing in a way that enjoyably informs and educates. Read on for a quick “visit” to these places that hold our collective printing heritage.
The Museum of Printing is just north of Boston in the old mill city of Haverhill, on the Merrimack River. There are three Vandercooks, two show card presses, a Kelsey table-top, and a large-format Gordon. There are working machines, including Linotype, Ludlow, and Heidelberg Windmill. There is even a Keurig coffee maker and the fridge is always stocked with libations.
The cabinets are filled with paper. The type cabinets hold metal and wood fonts and the 40-drawer cut cabinet has almost one thousand wood and metal engravings The drawings for every font done by Linotype are here.
Craig Busteed is one of the many volunteers at the 41-year old Museum of Printing in Haverhill, Mass. He finds the Museum’s studio a mecca for himself and other members.
He produced the poster for the Museum’s annual Printing Arts Fair with wood and metal type. Craig also assists at workshops that teach letterpress to novices, young and old. One workshop taught by veteran Ted Leigh covers printing with the hand press using the Museum’s 1888 Acorn press.
The Museum hosts school groups from all over New England. In most cases, the kids set their names and print them. One of them is now in their twenties and shared with us that they still have that print.
Craig also comes in on Wednesdays and helps his team restore vintage Kelseys and C & P’s, many of which are sold at two annual letterpress sales. The Museum Gift Shop sells type and other letterpress items. There are also two annual books sales that offer redundant books on graphic arts.
The Museum of Printing preserves the rich history and working tools of the graphic arts. It archives the largest collection of typographic art and ephemera in the world.
It’s wonderful to see our letterpress friends grow and be on the move. Earlier this month, a cool Chicago-based letterpress printer, A Favorite Design, did just that. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Amber Favorite & her husband have been able to move into their own brick-and-mortar store in the Albany park area. Way to go and congratulations!
A significant other’s trip to Europe became an occasion for me to do a little poking into the history of Basel, Switzerland. I couldn’t — and really, still can’t — put my finger on any one reason why Basel feels significant to me, as prominent as it has been in the back of mind. Perhaps it’s some subconscious awareness that many of my cultural heroes are alumni of the old university, like Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Gustav Jung, and Herman Hesse.
In the Renaissance, it was home to father of pharmacology, the astrologer and alchemist Paracelsus; in the modern era, it was the site of chemist Albert Hoffman’s famous bicycle ride over the course of which he became aware of the effects of the lysergic acid diethylamide he’d just invented. What a cute set of Basel historical bookends marking either end of the modern era of hard science, between magical herblore on one side and psychedelic cybernetics on the other.
This is the time when I just want to be active and outside. Taking in as much sunlight and warm weather as possible before the next season arrives. I relish these moments, yet have the feeling that I am not focused on my studio work. This little bit of guilt follows me around, but WAIT!!! I have dissolved this worry by combining my two favorite things: drawing and playing outdoors.
Wherever I go on adventures, I make sure to always have space in my bag for a small notebook and a set for drawing tools. Pens, fine tipped markers and a handmade notebook.
The sketchbooks are simple to make and can be constructed in a pinch. Yay bookbinding skills!!! Any found and recycled materials such as copy paper, string or staples are used to bind together this booklet. And there you are, ready for summer action and capturing your favorite moments.
Above are images I have included are from a 2015 sketchbook. These were made while spending the weekend in a remote cabin in central New York. Below are this year’s (2019) sketches of some recent adventures.
I can captures new experiences and practice my artistic skills all in this small item. I have even asked my friends to contribute to some pages. These become great collection pieces over time. I can look back at these works and enjoy my artistic practice through the summer months.
Have something that you find intriguing? Let us know in the comments below!
We were pleased to lend support to Carmela Heinztelman when she was approached with a special print request. After seeing the results, we think more professional design projects like this should come to life in letterpress.
When architect Edward Deegan contacted me about making some letterpress prints of his architectural drawings, I jumped at the chance. I admire Ed’s work and have seen many of his designs realized in our Illinois community and his work is absolutely impeccable. Below is one of the beautiful houses he designed, and one of the prints I made from his sketch of this house.
I love printing personalized artwork, and this was no different. To take a talented architect’s sketches and translate it into letterpress printed art that could be framed and hung was such an honor.
Edward had five sketches that he wanted printed. The challenge was to take these sketches and adjust them in a way that worked best for letterpress and kept the details.
We needed to apply a screen, which I had never done before. Enter Prepress from Boxcar Press! I called Cathy and explained this project, and she was excited to help. She looked at each of the pieces and told me the best way to prep the artwork. I converted the scans to grayscale, adjusted the contrast, brightness and threshold, then saved it as a TIFF. It came out perfect – the client was extremely happy!
In addition to the house renderings, I also printed for Edward a tall ships scene and two historical facades. He framed and hung them all in his office.
Thanks Carmela for sharing the printing of these drawings. In addition to being a learning experience for you on the file preparation side, it was a nice treat to see something a little out of the norm come to life in letterpress. This is a very limited edition art that will be viewed and enjoyed.
I opened my Etsy shop, Nine Day Weekend, a few years ago. My initial focus was on custom illustrations of family photographs. Early projects were all laser cut into wood, as either hangable portraits or magnets. One thing led to another and soon my love of the outdoors inspired me to create illustrations of National Parks.
I know it sounds trite, but I woke up early one morning with the random idea that I could draw the Grand Canyon simply by splitting the words in half and spreading them to the far corners of the frame. As I lay in the dark brainstorming how I could rearrange the letters of my favorite parks into similar designs. I brought my sketchbook and laptop to bed and worked until well after noon, but I had laid the foundation for my new project.
I realized early on that I wanted all of the designs to share a uniform visual language, so it was important to keep the line weights equal, no matter how big or small the letters became. Then, I quickly shifted gears and the parks became the focus of my Etsy shop (conveniently, I had already named my shop Nine Day Weekend, after the length of vacation that you create by taking Monday through Friday off work – I think this name lines up well with my new celebration of America’s natural lands and the joys of visiting them).
Over the course of the following days and weeks (and months), I kept working on the remaining parks, trying to turn each name into a distinct feature of the landscape or wildlife of each park. I allowed myself to rotate, flip, stretch, chop, and generally manipulate each letter, but my one rule was that every letter needed to be recognizably present.
Some of the images came to me very easily (like Arches, Hawaii Volcanoes, and Redwood), and I think their simplicity helps to balance out the more complicated illustrations (like Gates of the Arctic, Guadalupe Mountains, and Petrified Forest), where the letters are truly jumbled and it’s more difficult to “read” the name of the park. It’s fun to present my work at craft fairs and watch customers hover at my table while they try to “solve” all of these puzzles.
I first sold these parks as individual laser cut coaster and magnets, so people could create their own combinations of parks to resemble their favorite adventures. But I always imagined the full roster being presented together, so when I finally finished the 59th park (it took over a week to rearrange Theodore Roosevelt into a representation of his North Dakota log cabin and a bison), I needed to find the right medium for the poster.
I had met some letterpress printers on the craft fair circuit, and it seemed like my crisp lines would be a good fit for letterpress. One of them was kind enough to point me to Ted Ollier, who advised me on how to translate my digital artwork into letterpress. He also recommended I contact Boxcar Press for the plate. Having many questions, I was very happy with the patience displayed by Boxcar as I was educated on the process of platemaking. Both times that I have ordered plates (I recently created a second edition that includes the 2 new entries to the National Park roster) I was in a self-imposed rush. Why does it seem like all art projects end at the last minute?
The quick turnaround by Boxcar allowed me to get my posters printed as soon as possible. And even when their quality control found errors on my end (like using RGB instead of CMYK), I was able to correct the problem immediately without delaying production. I’ll let Ted speak to the printing qualities of these photopolymer plates, but I certainly have no complaints. As a letterpress newbie, Boxcar has been a pleasure to work with.
In addition to the plate I ordered for my new 18″ x 24″ print of all 61 National Parks, I also created a smaller plate that features the 5 National Parks of Utah (with the designs themselves arranged into the shape of Utah).
I’m excited to see how outdoor enthusiasts respond to this print. These parks are all very well regarded and highly visited – I’ll actually be visiting them with my family later this month to coincide with National Park Week. I’m incredibly proud of these posters – I love running my fingers along the deboss and I love seeing all of my illustrations lined up in a perfect grid. I looked up the specific Pantone shades of green and brown used by the National Park Service, in order to get as close as possible to the real thing. My hope is that these prints inspire folks to visit, treasure, and protect these amazing lands.
So Dan found me when I was still in a now-defunct letterpress co-op. I ran the original posters on the SP-20 there, but for this run I needed to borrow the SP-20 at the letterpress at Harvard where I teach, the Bow & Arrow Press. I started Reflex Letterpress about this time last year to salvage something out of the demise of the co-op.
The smaller pieces I ran at Reflex on the Vandercook No 4. The presses were feeling good that day, there were no oddities in either run.
The smaller pieces I ran at Reflex on the Vandercook No 4. The presses were feeling good that day, there were no oddities in either run.
Want to snag a print of this beautiful poster? Shop here!
Our focus has been drawn lately to a Goudy typeface, re-invigorating studio visits, and being up-close with dinosaurs. We hope you delight in what has captured our attention in this installment of the Inquisitive Printers!
Recently I was running amok on a good search about typefaces. Naturally, Frederic Goudy had his share of references to explore. One, in particular, caught my eye because it was a video that was linking our Syracuse University here with Goudy. As Syracuse based printers, we have some hometown pride and to have a tie-in to this very prolific font designer was a neat surprise. Enjoy this video called Goudy & Syracuse: The Tale of A Typeface found.
Hello Print Friends! I would like to share with ya’ll my favorite aspect to my artistic practice. Do you have find yourself in your workspace not knowing what to do with your projects? You do? Okay. Great! I suggest you have a studio visit.
This has been extremely valuable to growing as an artist and developing my work since leaving my fine art studies back in 2016. Similarly, I like to receive feedback and miss having a community to work within now that I am done with school.
Have a friend stop by your space. Show them what you are currently working on. Share your artistic process with them. Invite them over while you are working on a print run—more hands make less work. Let your visitor ask questions and get to know what you do as a maker.
Don’t forget the SNACKS! I have some things to eat or drink and enjoy simply hanging out. For instance, I like to invite people over during lunchtime for a 45-minute visit and I also encourage my guest to hang out & draw with me. Sketching and sharing ideas is great!
Think about what you want to get out of a studio visit. Or alternatively, this doesn’t need to have an objective. See where the conversation leads. Discuss everything and nothing. This dialogue may influence your work in return.
Afterward, reflect on what was talked about. do you see your work with a new perspective? I typically feel energized after a studio visit. The feedback allows me to return to working on my projects with fresh ideas. I am delighted that I get to share what I love to do and really appreciate how receptive my visitors are to my work and creative space. I see this as vital to my artistic practice and will continue doing this. FOREVER. Hope you give it a whirl.
My dear friends, Shelby and Brian are looking through a box of my small drawings (July 2018).
Here is a great link that offers very honest and helpful suggestions about studio visits and making the most out of them!
Want to get up-close to dinosaur bones without leaving your computer chair? Photographer Christian Voigt does just that as he captured the delicate beauty of the London Natural History Museum’s dinosaur skeleton collection. Come take a look!
(photography credit: Christian Voigt and WIRED.com)
We hope you explore some of our links and perhaps learn a little bit more about what intrigues us here at Boxcar Press. Email us at email@example.com the things that delight you also!
I have always enjoyed the CBS Sunday Morning program as it has introduced me to many fascinating creative people and stories over the years. On the March 10th broadcast, they focused on fine press books from the printing to the binding. It is always exciting to see a letterpress print shop on network news. Enjoy the segment if you haven’t already viewed it.
Whew! BOY HOWDY! Anyone in need of a podcast recommendation? Yes!? OKAY. Let me tell you about my favorite podcast OLOGIES, hosted by Alie Ward. This show is all about asking smart people dumb questions.
Alie sits down with a specialist in a different field of study in every episode. For example: Entomology (Insects), Selenology (the Moon), and Tuethology (Squids!!!). This podcast series does not disappoint. You will be giddy with excitement to learn all there is to know about each episode’s topic and an added bonus: delightful side notes of fact checking or defining fancy scientific words. Also worth mentioning, if you listen to the very end of each episode Alie will share a secret with the listeners.
(photo courtesy of allieward.com)
I listen to this show while printing. Yyou can tell when I am listening to this podcast as I am laughing out loud and smiling. OLOGIES is a delight and I hope you give it a listen…then proceed to tell all your friends about the wondrous information you just learned about Entomophagy Anthropology (eating bugs), Mixology (cocktails), or Somnology (sleep). Enjoy!
Everyday there are more than 12,000+ planes travelling around the world at any given time. Want to see just how populated the skies are? Check out this nifty website, flightrader24.com, that shows in real-time who could be flying above you!
We’re smitten with printin’ and know that you (and that special someone) are too! Peruse our list of the top 14 favorite gifts for this upcoming Valentine’s Day 2019—from heartwarming (and hilarious!) cards to letterpress goodies that are sure to bring a smile from ear-to-ear for that certain someone.
Let us know what you are getting your printing paramour this year in the comments below!
11. Bigger is better and especially in Valentine’s cards (from Benchpressed). | 12. Treat your printer to a 10x or 15x Loupe (from Badger Graphics) for their shop, you can never have too many. Or google “vintage loupe” to score one with personality and history. | 13. One Fine Specimen card from Type High Letterpress. | 14. A Catch All Tray from The Art of Manliness: A tray for printers with the philosophy many try and do to aspire to in their print shops.
Sometimes the words on a person’s platemaking order just leap off the page and catch our attention. That was true with Eleonore Lee’s curving and falling text layout. Add in that they were lyrics by Queen’s Freddie Mercury and we just “had to see that printed”. We hope this strikes a chord with you too.
In spring 2017, the Fine Press Book Association sent out a call for entries for their annual fundraising portfolio. Since I already had a huge project to complete before heading off on a trip, it seemed fitting to add another project to my docket.
This project was especially enticing as it would support their fine press journal, Parenthesis, and the portfolio would be shared among other printers. Last year was a year in which I was re-discovering myself after a good decade of hardcore parenting. An exchange portfolio would allow others to discover me too.
Like a lot of printmakers, I am a sucker for exchange portfolios. Something I particularly appreciate about letterpress and handmade paper exchanges is that they are a lot more lenient about format. The parameters for this portfolio were generous … produce 125 prints. Within these parameters, it was definitely possible to consider a less likely subject matter.
If you do not know, most often Fine Press work has a tendency to publish known and lauded dead poets. Always the contrarian, I felt like shaking it up a little with less-predictable words. My work aims to ask questions or bring attention to something you might not usually notice.
Because music means so much to me, I have been considering making art about the music that pervades my life. Whilst at work I am known as “that person who wears their headphones and sings out loud”. One epic late night, two BFA students and I had a lot of paper to make. We loudly sang through 2 CDs of Queen’s Greatest hits. That was my inspiration.
I was not a huge Queen fan in my youth, finding Freddie overwhelmingly exuberant. However, I grew into Queen. I learned the lyrics intimately in the same way that I spend a lot of time with the poems I work with. Singing along both joyfully and studiously, so that I could be as accurate as possible with the pacing and the sounds. By including the breaths, the uh’s and drawn out syllables, the project was most enjoyable.
I also revelled in the details: The paper is Neenah’s Flash Pearl Starwhite. Not only is it shiny pearlescent like some of Freddie’s leggings, but it also covers Flash, for Flash Gordon’s theme song, by Queen.
The font is Montserrat. Freddie had a dream to perform with and finally collaborated with Montserrat Caballé on the album Barcelona. And of course, I did my research: Freddie loved red and yellow, bold loud colors. The rhythm of the song is included in the yellow and red dots. They are foam dots, with 2” dots representing a full beat, 1” dots a half beat and ½” dots a ¼ beat.
I wanted a mix of more iconic images of Freddie as well as images from his videos. I chose the song because the lyrics combined with the video spoke volumes about Freddie.
He lived flamboyantly and boldly in public, at a time when being gay was a crime in most countries. In ‘I want to Break Free’ the band appears dressed as working class women. We first see Brian May wake up, with curlers in his hair, very rapidly followed by a hairy arm wearing bangles brandishing a vacuum. After a few swipes, all of Freddie scurries out boldly, staring right at the camera and gives us a brief, contented smirk before proceeding with some very sexy vacuuming (to the music). He dances and sings and winks appearing to enjoy himself a lot. It may seem run-of-the-mill today. It was bold back then, especially for a shy, cat-loving man wrestling with his sexuality. All of these words and images worked well on the tri-fold design I had in mind.
Although the images have enough small details and fine lines, I would never have attempted type with such fine details so I thank Boxcar Press for the plates. They also provided a fine press discount on the plates for this project.
I hope others in this exchange enjoyed this project as much as I did envisioning and printing it. You can learn more about Eleonore’s project with Parentheses at FPBA.com.
We count down the top 18 gift ideas in our 2018 Holiday Letterpress Gift Guide for that special printer on your list. Featuring calendars, prints, and type-themed goodies that are sure to please! Let us know what’s on your wishlist in the comments section below!