Inquisitive Printers Want to Know: Extra Things That Caught Our Eye

This month’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know showcases an enjoyable animated video short “Typesetter Blues” and today’s Mars-bound InSight probe. Read on to learn more!

From Cathy: How can you not love a title like Typesetter Blues?  Enjoy this short animated video about the fickleness of love in a print shop (Fun Fact: the printer in the video is named “Harold”).

Typesetter-blues-letterpress-printing - inquisitive(photography courtesy of TOGETHER/Pahzit Cahlon)

From Rebecca:  Seven months ago, NASA sent up the Mars-bound InSight probe. Today, the probe is schedule to land on the surface of Mars. The cool little probe has the job of collecting data of Mars’ surface and drilling a hole 5 meters (16.4 feet) down.

Mars_insight_probe-NASA(photography credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The data will be able to help scientists understand the creation of Mars and its geological landscape evolution.

Inquisitive Printers Want to Know: More Extra Things That Caught Our Eye

Keeping our eagle eyes on the look-out for intriguing and cool things, this month’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know highlights Lori Schneider (a woman with Multiple Sclerosis who has scaled  the “Seven Summits”), the wealth of information at letterpresscommons.com,  as well as a very beautiful look at global weather patterns. Read on to learn more!

From Cathy: Recently, I was fortunate enough to hear a talk by Lori Schneider, the first woman with Multiple Sclerosis to climb the “Seven Summits” of the world.  Here she is in a Ted Talk at TedXGrandRapids.

The Seven Summits are the highest peaks of the seven continents.

Listening to her describe her Mount Everest climb sparked a strong curiosity about this particular mountain and sent me searching for all sorts of information.  What I learned was equal parts awe-inspiring, eye-opening and a little beyond belief.  You can Google and find hundreds of articles but this How Stuff Works article is a good introduction to how daunting it is.

Next, I paid a recent visit to Letterpress Commons, specifically to view any of the new videos added since my last look (and to view some of the others again).  There is a wealth of info shared by others on “The Commons”, so it’s highly recommended that folks putter around at the site every few months to see what treasures have been added.  And if you have a tidbit or more to share, check out how to be a contributor.

From Rebecca Taking global weather pattern views to a whole new level is the Earth.Nullschool.net website. This handy website displays in real time the current wind, temperature, and CO2 levels. You can zoom in and twirl the globe to different locations worldwide to see how different weather patterns are moving.

It’s very fascinating (and beautiful!) to see how the Earth’s oceans and landforms effect one another.

Have something nifty or cool that you’d like to share with us? Let us know what it is in the comments below!

Inquisitive Printers Want to Know: More Things That Caught Our Eye

Always scanning the horizons (and our internet browsers) for intriguing and cool things to bookmark, this week’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know showcases the Austin Center for the Book’s amazing workshop offerings, horse-riding librarians in the Great Depression era, and two handy websites that help identify that mysterious typefaces & fonts. Read on to learn more!

From Cathy: I have been enjoying a little stroll through the pages of the Austin Book Arts Center website.  The Center has only been around in its official state since 2015 but was a growing idea since the 1980’s through a group of enthusiastic book workers.  They offer an amazing wide variety of workshops every week and I am drawn to the ones for teachers and kids.

Combine women, books, and horses into one bundle and you get the Pack Horse Librarians.  Started in 1934, over 50,000 families in Appalachia were served with books delivered on horseback.  This program was started as part of the New Deal’s WPA and books and magazines were donated.  When they became too worn, they were repaired or turned into scrapbooks and circulated again. Here are two websites with fascinating stories and photographs. In this age of E-books, it is neat to read about a time when books were scarce treasures.

From Jake:  The printshop offers many wonders when wandering through on a daily basis. The photography captured here shows the light spectrum in all its rainbow glory in the wash-out unit in one of our platemakers. 

Jake-inquisitive-printers-platemaker

From Rebecca: Ever come across a design with such a gorgeous typeface or font….but you don’t know what the name of it is? For both computer and mobile,  WhatTheFont is a great starting point to demystifying that font that’s been on your mind for ages. WhatTheFont is a site where you can snap a photo (or upload one if you are working on your computer) and the online program will start identifying what it may be.If you are into a more answer-questions-type-of-mood, a secondary good website is Indentifont.

Have something awesome or cool that you’d like to share with us? Share with us what it is in the comments below!

Inquisitive Printers Want To Know – Even More Eye-catching Things

Keeping sharp eye on the lookout for more cool things & intriguing “must-bookmark-this!” items, this week’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know features a Wisconsin-based printer and bookmaker, a new specialized coating that is the “blackest of the blacks”, and a celebration for a book series that inspires one of our printers. Read on to learn more!

Cathy:   I recently found a website with a blog that pleased me.  It is called Letterpress Book Publishing and it belongs to Mike Coughlin of Superior Letterpress of Cornucopia Wisconsin. He calls himself a Printer and Book Maker and his blog reflects on his love of his profession. His posts are comfortable and friendly.  He hasn’t posted since December 2017 so I am hoping some new visitors to his page will prompt him to give us something new to read.

He is at the tip of Wisconsin before it drops into Lake Superior so come “chat” with the rest of us, Mike, and let us know what is on your mind or on your press.

Rebecca Miller: While we do love a good, deep rich printing black (a printer’s bread and butter), we often wonder about Vantablack.

(Photography credit: Surrey Nanosystems)

Hailed as the “blackest of blacks”, this is borderline cartoonish-ly black coating is neither really a pigment nor paint per se. Instead, the specialized coating (made by Surrey Nanosystems) is made up of series of long, extremely tightly packed (and quite microscopically thin) carbon tubes. So dense is this “forest of carbon nanotubes” that any light shined onto it is immediately absorbed (99.96% to be exact). 

The very precise need for those densely packed carbon nano tubes to be laid in a certain way limits how the coating can be applied. Currently in the works is a not-as-dark version in a spray variety aimed at the STEM community (and it will set you back a pretty penny).

Bonus: The “Vanta” in Vantablack stands for “Vertically Aligned Nanotube Array”.

Leanna: Happy Birthday, Harry (July 31st)!  I have been a huge Harry Potter fan since it was introduced to me by my fourth grade teacher. It was subsequently banned from the school a couple months later, so I had to sneak it in my lunchbox to read during break. Over the years since last book and film were released, I took to mainly searching Pinterest for fan art and periodically listening to the audiobooks while I work in the shop (and people wonder why I’m tearing up at the press, it’s cause I’m listening to Snape die for the 100th time!).

(Photography courtesy of monsieurmonsteur.co.uk)

Did you know that 2018 is one of the years in which the book ‘The Cursed Child’ takes place? According to the timeline, Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is 1991. The Battle of Hogwarts is in 1998 making the “19 years later” of the epilogue of ‘The Cursed Child’ to be in 2017. Weird right? Now imagine the movies taking place in the early 90’s instead of the 2000’s!

In honor of Harry’s and J.K. Rowling’s birthday today, here are a few of my favorite Harry Potter things to inspire a bit of “magic” for their next print project! 

Artists to Check Out:

Wonderful Potter-related Articles and Exhibits:

Do you have a cool thing you’d like to share with us or see something that tickles your printing fancy? Email us at info@boxcarpress.com as we’d love to hear from you! We’re always on the look-out for fun + wonderful things!

Taking Flight With Mejiro Graphics

Harumi Kobayashi of Mejiro Graphics is a letterpress printer whose pan-Pacific Ocean life travels have brought her zen on press, a wealth of creativity, and a patient approach to challenges on her beloved Chandler & Price. Her eye-catching, beautifully crafted letterpress work features whimsical Japanese-style artwork with bold, striking colors. Harumi fills us in on the trek so far and what lies ahead on her printing & creative horizons.

Harumi Kobayashi enjoys a cup of tea after printing on her C&P at Meijiro Graphics.
Eye popping color of whimsical and beautiful Japanese cats in kimonos grace Harumi Kobayashi's expertly printed letterpress cards.

THE PRINTING ADVENTURES SO FAR I am originally from Japan and I’ve been interested in lettering and calligraphy since I was a child. I was able to use my calligraphy experience and take a position as an assistant to a freelance book cover designer in Tokyo. After this I worked for a printing company in their graphic design department. In 2003 my husband and I moved to the US. We lived in Kauai, Hawaii and Port Ludlow, WA.

When we lived in Port Ludlow, we found a two-week-old kitten in the forest and we bottle-fed and raised him. Since then Olele is a member of our family and the inspiration for my letterpress card designs.

Harumi Kobayashi says hello with her cat; gives a tour to her printing press shop.

In 2016, we moved to Sherman, TX, where I work at a small commercial printing shop.

FINDING CREATIVITY When we moved to the States, I established Mejiro Graphics** and I’ve been enjoying working as a graphic designer. Later I taught myself web design to broaden my services.

Creating the websites was interesting, but I felt I was always trying to keep up with current trends and technologies. It was about then that my sister told me about letterpress printing. I googled letterpress and learned about people who still put value in setting lead type and printing on fine paper [and] on old printing presses. I felt I had found something that I had been looking for and was hidden inside me for a very long time. I told my husband I wanted to buy an antique printing press. He enthusiastically supported me and helped me find a press and he built me a printing shop.

**A Mejiro [may-gee-row], or Japanese White-eye, is a small olive-green songbird with a conspicuous white eye-ring.

A cozy and neatly set-up letterpress print shop is home to Harumi Kobayashi and Meijiro Graphics.

SEASIDE ENDEAVORS We moved to Port Ludlow, WA so my husband could attend a wooden-boat-building school, and we were very lucky to rent a house on Puget Sound. So my husband built his shop and my printing shop in the 2-car garage, and we each had an ocean view. It was very quiet and peaceful. We heated our shops with wood we harvested from the forest and felt quite self-sufficient.

PRINTING MENTORS I was delighted to get to know Ellie Mathews and Carl Youngmann at the North Press in Port Townsend, WA. Ellie taught me how to set type and Carl always gave us good advice and solutions when we had problems about printing. Through them we met many local letterpress printers and bookbinders.

Their work and their enthusiasm for printing inspired me a lot.

DESIGNED FOR PRINT I’m a designer and a printer. I enjoy exploring and sketching the ideas for our greeting cards. My husband and I evaluate the designs and re-sketch many times. When we’re satisfied with the design, I scan the sketch, create a digital file in Adobe Illustrator, and fine-tune the design.

Sketches for upcoming letterpress printed cards feature Japanese cats in elegant kimonos. Artwork by Harumi Kobayashi.

I order the polymer plates at the Boxcar Press. When I receive the plates, I mount it on a Base, hand-mix the ink and print it. As all you know, the press doesn’t work the same way every time and we are sometimes frustrated. But usually one of us has patience and comes up with an idea to fix the problem.

We put our hearts into the process and we’re always happy and content when we see the finished card. It’s delightful to see the colors come alive when printing on fine paper and for the image to take on the depth that letterpress printing gives.

PRINTING FEATS I’m proud that my husband restored our press completely. In addition, when we realized how important it was for the rails to be flat and of even height after a lot of trial and error printing, he began to think of ways to build up the rails. He wasn’t satisfied with the multiple layers of tape to make up for the heavily worn uneven rails so he disassembled the press again and using a metal and epoxy mixture, renewed the rails to almost new condition. Then we moved on to inking and other challenging printing issues. I’m happy that we worked together and continued to enjoy the challenge of printing our original greeting cards.

Meijiro Graphic is home to gorgeous letterpress printing and a beautiful Chandler & Price printing press. Harumi Kobayashi helms the vintage metal beauty.

PRESS HISTORY We found our first press in Portland, OR. We brought it home covered in tarps in a rainstorm, of course. It is an old-style 1890, 8×12 Chandler & Price. It is our first and only press for now. We think it is beautiful.

BOXCAR’S ROLE When we bought our press, we didn’t know anything about printing and polymer plates, and we didn’t know anybody to ask. When we called Boxcar Press, they were always happy to help us and gave us information and suggestions.

SHOP TIPS I have two Boxcar Bases of the same size. For two-color printing, I put each plate on a Base and test print without inking to adjust registration and packing. This way I can see where to add packing easily and it helps avoid the ink drying out on the plates because we use and prefer oil based ink.

Clean, beautiful Japanese-styled letterpress prints are favorites of Harumi Kobayashi's work. Fun & bright colored halloween letterpress printed card from Harumi Kobayashi features japanese-influenced cats.

WHAT’S NEXT When we moved to Texas, unfortunately we needed to put our press in storage. We don’t have a lot of extra money at the moment so we’re looking for a free or low-cost place to set up our shop. I have several new card designs and hope we’ll be able to print them in early 2018.

A huge round of thanks out to Harumi Kobayashi of Mejiro Graphics (Etsy store) as we’re eager to see what she comes up in the not-too-distant future.