Yesterday Harold talked about his letterpress printing mentor, Paulette Myers-Rich of Traffic Street Press. Here’s an email from Paulette that captures her generous spirit. Harold explains: “Paulette wrote this to me in 2001 and I thought it read like poetry. I turned it into a broadside for the APA, printed in Boxcar Press’s basement digs when I was working out of my house, using Zapfino back when Zapfino used to be cool.”
“Harold, Sounds like your adventures with machinery are going along right about how they should. Machines and equipment were never designed to cooperate. They are the boss. We are subservient to them and they are temperamental, destructive, dangerous, and cranky. They need lots of understanding, TLC, and grease. John Henry and his exploded heart found this out. Just finding a place to put the stuff is only the beginning. Then there are the adjustments, the cleaning, the replacement parts, the exotic, expensive obsolete tools to go with the machine, the bolts no longer manufactured, the gremlins that live inside that won’t let you do your work properly. It’s the fourth of four nuts that is rusted on or frozen and refuses to come loose as easily as its three predecessors. It is also the mastery of metal, the ability to use machines to an amazing end, to crank out stuff that few others can, to become one with gears and cylinders, to go places you couldn’t otherwise go. What a life! Take care and wear your steel toes, (I mean it!)”
A few months ago, we sent out a survey to a whole lot of letterpress friends asking them a whole lot of printing things. One of our favorite questions was “Who are your letterpress mentors”? The list of responses was a gushing love fest to the famous, infamous, and unknown printers alike, the people who taught us, inspired us, and stay with us. You can read the list below. So in honor of red hearts and Valentine’s, share your stories with us — who taught you a love of letterpress — and what did they teach you?
Barry Moser a designer, typographer, illustrator and teacher from Pennyroyal Press, shared his mentor story with us:
I got started in printing in 1968. It was a late umber November afternoon in 1969. I wish I knew the exact date, because it was a day that changed my life. When I opened the door of Leonard Baskin’s Gehenna Press I heard a din of sweet noise and smelled the essence of viscera of a sort known to me in some distant and obscure way. The din was the chitty-chitty-bang-bang of the big press running. The essence was the smell of oil and grease and ink and solvents. There was an antique trestle table with stacks of books on it and a model of Gutenberg’s printing press. The books were of a kind I had never seen. Hand made paper. Fine bindings. Impeccable printing. I stood there, a little uncomfortable, and feeling like I had just stepped into another world. Continue reading
Harold first fell for letterpress at a small town college in Northfield, Minnesota called Carleton (Carleton also happens to be the school where Harold & Debbie fell for each other, but that’s another story!). So we were so excited when Carleton’s art department asked Harold to write his story for the college’s web site, to show (we think) prospective art majors and their parents that those art degrees do go onto do great things. Read Harold’s romantic letterpress saga here!