Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum's Second Wayzgoose Week in November 2010

Still riding the high of 2010’s Hamilton Wayzgoose, I put off posting this sooner, as if to tarry at the party a little longer . . . the reality is: The party doesn’t end. There are prints to be made, languages to learn, books to be read, friends new and old to keep up with, and more letterpress printing adventures to plan, all inspired by this weekend!

It did not seem possible after all the fun I had at Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum’s first-ever Wayzgoose that there was any plane higher, and I only hoped for an equally engaging weekend of geek-bonding and enjoyment regarding all things printing, wood and type, but with the second Wayzgoose . . . Zowie! To the moon! And, the love of wood type and design and print was well-represented by visitors from around the world to boot!

This year a three day Educators Conference was introduced to the schedule. Letterpress printing is experiencing a renaissance in college curricula – in both the art and design departments, though usually independently, which is curious – and the group included motivated college students who want to make sure they are getting the most out of their print studio, instructors continuing their education, and studio or print shop owners and managers interested in discovering ways to engage with their communities that keep their studios and shops vital. Everyone was ready to exchange ideas – the best preparation they could have done!

Sandro Berra whisked everyone to Italy first thing. He is the curator at the Tipoteca Italiana fondazione, a ten-year-old museum of Italian printing history. He shared how Tipoteca gathered the collection, housed it, and have engaged both the community and artists as well as scholars to create work with or based on the Museum’s holdings.

April Sheridan spoke in great detail about what it takes to set up, run and maintain a large community shop in a university setting, such as they have at Columbia College Chicago Center for Book & Paper. Eight Vandercooks, one Heidelberg windmill and an offset press! Always running. She shared a list of resources that has helped Columbia, and it was clearly welcomed.

The afternoon was whiled away with many discussions among smaller groups, all over the Museum, getting into details of the day’s topics, and what is a day at Hamilton without a little printing? Type specimens and selections from the Globe Collection were available in the press room for play. Snacks representing Wisconsin’s favorite foods – smoked fish, cheese, fall fruit and a beer here and there kept the attendees going until dinnertime at Two Rivers’ Brau Haus, Kurtz’s.

It would have not been a proper Two Rivers (or Midwest for that matter!) experience without it, so Thursday began, appropriately, with freezing temperatures and snow. It eventually cleared, of course; weather can move quickly across the lake.

Day Two began with a book arts session with Tracy Honn of Silver Buckle Press at UW Madison. Through the basic stitches and discussion of paper choice, class formatting, etc., she conveyed how every decision is rooted in the need to think long-term and big picture, developing or practicing your personal or shop or studio’s methodology, and that as a shop or studio manager or owner or creator of work, we’re making conscious decisions every step of the way, and that it is also okay to let some things go that can be let go (and it may be necessary to do so!).

Jim Sherraden, the manager and permanent artist in residence of that little ol’ print shop in Nashville, spoke in the afternoon about Hatch Show Print’s internship program and shared a spectacular array of prints that runs the gamut from restrikes of blocks carved in the 1940’s, 50’s and perhaps even earlier and top-selling rock music posters of years gone by, to the work that is currently being put out by Hatch Show Print staff and the interns they bring in throughout the year.
Jim Sherraden moved to the press room to share some Hatch prints he brought along, and Juliet Shen, a Wayzgoose speaker, had set up a type specimen of the Lushootseed face that she had designed (see last year’s event write up for more about her work with the Tulalip tribes of the Pacific Northwest) – amazing! And, while attendees were once again enjoying some tasty tidbits (snacks) of the Midwest, Jim Moran and Jim Sherraden talked blocks (old blocks from the Globe Collection – more on that from last year’s write up too), and Rick Griffith shared his print workshop plan with Jim Moran.

Dinner was at The Remedy, a relatively new local sports pub. The group took over the second floor, and while the food was really secondary to the all the talk (in multiple languages! English, Italian and Spanish!), they basically had enough room for everyone there which is great. Some even continued their conversations into the wee hours . . . .

Friday was a free day for the Educators. Some went off to Sheboygan to visit the Kohler Art Center and Museum, others stayed in Two Rivers to be in the Museum and absorb it all, and Rick Griffith captained a team of printers and designers to lay out the print projects for the Wayzgoose. Hamilton Volunteer Georgi Leisch arrived and since she is learning how to cut type from her father, Norb Bryslki, she was immediately pulled into a discussion about type cutting with attendees. The Museum was in perfect flow, as the center for all of these folks to orbit, some taking advantage of the location, others accessing the living museum via the press room and others taking in the history of the factory. Awesome.

Throughout the day Wayzgoose attendees arrived, and that added to the buzz. Goody bags were stuffed full of great paper-related materials (including a Pop Tone swatch book!) from French Paper (plus flying discs!), very useful books from Scout Books and helpful designer cards from Pinball Publishing, a beautiful type catalog from Font Bureau, and an awesome commemorative poster printed by Jim Moran. Just like last year, people who had only known each other by name or shared discussions online were meeting each other in person for the first time, and others already acquainted with one another were catching up. Everyone was clearly excited to be there, among like-minded typophiles and printers.

Before the first talks of the weekend, printing demonstrations were offered in the press room by the Western New York Book Arts Center (Rich Kegler and Chris Fritton), on pressure printing and type Chris cut himself. John Downer, a sign painter, letterer and typographer known by many type designers, delighted many througout the weekend with demonstrations of his work. Typecutting demonstrations by Volunteer Mardell added a nice hum to the evening. Rick’s finalization of the printing pieces for his workshop, serious appetizers (which means they made a great dinner for many!) provided by Brian Moran, libations via the Lighthouse Inn and lots of mingling kept the Museum warm.

Nick Sherman discussed the importance of wood type on type design in the digital age, and included more than one anecdote about his rebel youth (‘losing’ a library book that he couldn’t find anywhere else . . .), and let us know that there’d be more interesting news to come on the digital-wood type topic later in the weekend. (Did you hear that shoe drop?)

David Shields discussed the work he is doing with the Rob Roy Kelly Collection at UT Austin and the formidable task he has set himself to carry on Kelly’s original idea of a comprehensive (or as complete as possible, given the materials available) catalog of American type history. The official word for it is a conspectus. I imagine he has something of an understanding of Samuel Johnson’s general state of mind in the years leading up to 1755.

We were treated to innovative use of print and film: Judith Poirier from the University of Montreal has created a four minute film using type printed on 38 millimeter film. The sound for the movie was created by the type that printed on the sound track of the film (the soundtrack is literally part of the film, such that when it is processed during the movie editing/production, the soundtrack is also processed), which is fascinating. It hummed, it spat, it stuttered, but most of all, it sang! Just amazing.

For some, the evening concluded with pool and laid back banter at Berserker’s , a local locals bar. No fights actually broke out, though there was a bit of muscle-flexing here and there. . . though, I am not sure if that was to make the spider web tattoo move or what . . . and I don’t know how many of the women present were impressed by it.

Saturday dawned brightly. How could it be anything but, with the day to come? A rotation of four sessions kept everyone plugged in and warm.

Paul Gehl from the Newberry Library in Chicago, IL, discussed the spectacular chromatic type specimen catalogs they have in their collection, explaining their purpose and use, and the recent find of a roll of posters tucked away for many years for safe-keeping. The Newberry Library has many type specimen catalogs and one sheet flyers, as well as an incredible collection gathered around the theme of the history of printing.

James Clough, a calligrapher of international renown, design instructor and author, discussed the history of Italian wood type, surprising the audience with typefaces that, if you are a woodtypophile, are exactly what you’d hope the most fantastic wood type would be but you had hardly conceived that it actually could be this fantastic. Truly. At least one book on the subject is forthcoming – stay tuned!

Sandro Berra, the curator from Tipoteca Italiana fondazione, discussed the first ten years of his museum of Italian printing history, from collecting the type, presses and ephemera, to generating awareness about the Museum. It has already been decided among some of the attendees that a future Wayzgoose-like event must be held in Italy. There are certainly enough presses and type to keep the pressroom humming for a few days at least! (The wood type looks to be incredible too, from an American perspective. Check out some of the photos on their site here: ) Molto bene!

Rick Griffith, of Matter in Denver, CO, ran the print workshop. He spent a day with a group of attendees – a mix of designers and printers and artists – to lay out two pieces that showcase the great collection of type at the Museum, and that’s what the participants then printed. Combined with his color sense (there was transparent ink, a split fountain or rainbow roll, and just edible colors) and joy of teaching, the projects made great posters and great interactivity for the crew.

Saturday night included dinner, three shows, live music and a movie! Nick Sherman unveiled some samples of the Bryslki typeface he is designing to be cut in wood, named in honor of everyone’s favorite Hamilton character (and one of the stars of the movie Typeface), typecutting Volunteer Norb Brylski. Juliet Shen brought us an upate on the Lushootseed type, including some great photos of kids printing with the type, and a teacher clearly happy to see her students engaging with their cultural heritage and breathing life into it. Jim Sherraden of Hatch Show Print told the story of one of America’s oldest print shops, and its not-always-smooth road to becoming the shop it is today, reminding us along the way of how anything that is good must be actively engaged with to carry on. Jim Van Lanen, the Museum’s founder and a leading local businessman, played a violin he made for the audience, and spoke ever so briefly about how glad he is to see all the Hamilton love (he did not exactly put it that way). Rich Kegler closed the evening with a screening of his documentary about Jim Rimmer, a type designer and maker (not many of those around!), and his process from inception, through drawing, to engraving, to pouring hot metal into matrices to make the final product, metal type. Jim Rimmer was clearly a bit of a character too!

Sunday morning started, as is the tradition, with a casual jam session among the Moran brothers, including Paul, Pat and Bill, and then a bit later, Jim Sherraden joined in. Music, wood type, printing, good cheese, beer and coffee -- that plus someone to do the laundry and dishes is all I'd need to live and be happy.

It was clear that even the speakers were feeling quite fortunate that they had agreed to join us all in frozen Wisconsin for a few days . . . on Sunday morning, James Clough gave another, previously unscheduled, presentation on Italian movie posters. Accompanied by nothing less than a soundtrack of Italian opera, he wowed us with slides of gloriously designed and printed posters. I do believe another book is in the offing!

Meanwhile, the more printerly types of the group had set out stuff they had printed (or made - freshly cut type was there too!) and wanted to trade. So much style, and so varied! It was great, and only cemented our notion that we have yet more to discuss and create, visiting each other and meeting up again in Two Rivers. I hope I see everyone again soon!
Note: All photos with people in them, with the exception of the last photo, were taken by A.J. Lorrigan, a Volunteer at the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum. The rest were taken by me.

1 comment:

  1. Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from wahooart.com, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT7K6.

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