Wednesday, August 29, 2007

history lessons

It's seems that it's my fate to be in the studio on the most beautiful days of the year. Today is no exception. Though I was here mostly by choice--being trapped in the mystery of this type.

The story: I was cleaning out type cabinets at Letterpress Things a few months ago, and, as a treat, John B. let me keep anything I found. It was all pretty dirty, but I saw 3 cases of Caslon Openface, and this lovely blackletter. I put the type in a box, and just started sorting it last night. Usually I sort it into lines in the little box (above left), with chipboard separaters. And because it was such a small font, I wanted to check that I had all the characters, so I then sorted it onto a sheet of paper (above right). All there, thank goodness, even though there's not a lot. Step 2: find it in MacGrew's. The result: Tudor Black, 12pt. And it's just lovely.
Step 3: Set a little bit of it, and proof it. I decided on Dante's Inferno (Canto V), it seemed the most appropriate thing on my bookshelf. Hooray for my spankin' clean Nolan No.1!Isn't it pretty? I just love that "O."

Step 4: Which typefoundry? After a little cleaning of the pinmark, I check Briar Press' pinmark directory, and discover that it looks an awful lot like this one, from Farmer, Little, & Co., a foundry that operated in NYC from 1862 to 1892, when it was absorbed into ATF. That means that my type might be well over 100 years old! I'm so excited. Does that make me a big dork?

P.S. Workshops are filling up fast! Sign up soon, or you might have to wait until Spring...

Monday, August 27, 2007

the smell of fall

(Pic of Janet and Emily, workshop 6/9/07)

I can practically smell the pencils being sharpened. Really. And though the trees are still green in Vermont, they're already turning in Massachusetts.

And Massachusetts it was, last weekend, for the grand re-opening of Letterpress Things after an extended summer vacation. And just because it's on the 4th floor of an old mill building, Mother Nature decided to give us one last hurrah: 90+ degrees and (wicked) humid. Thanks to the folks who trekked out in the heat, and for humoring me by conducting serious conversations standing only 2 feet from the big fan. Hello out there to Lucy, Janet, and Karissa, who are super excited about jumping into letterpress.

So here it is, the big reveal: I've just posted the fall/winter '07 schedule of letterpress workshops. In a nutshell:

Experience the Letterpress Thing will run 9/22, 10/6, and 12/1.
Broadsides for Beginners (*new workshop*) will run 10/27 and 12/15.
Holiday Card Extravaganza (*special event*) will run 11/17 only.

Read more at my site, and look at pictures from past workshops here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

saturday treats

A "day off" Saturday is rare for me--usually I'm teaching, or driving to teach, or spending many hours hunched over the press. Today, I'm happy to say, I gave myself the morning off, ostensibly to spend a few hours outside...before coming back to the studio to finish a custom book (I promise to post pics later!).

So, back to Saturday morning goodness...mmmm latte at Langdon Street Cafe (thanks, Wes!), then off to the glorious farmer's market (today's finds: green beans, fresh onions, and baby beet greens) for some much needed socializing. If you live in a small town like I do, it's possible to run into every single person you know at the farmer's market. And so I saw a whole lotta folks, talked about the weather (uniformly yucky today), the new Thursday Next novel, and the strange habits of grasshoppers and Japanese eggplant.

And as I was leaving, I ran into yet another friend, who reminded me that the ReStore was having it's 17th birthday today. The ReStore is a fabulous treasure trove of all that stuff you really don't need, but are sure that someone else will. I make a weekly trip, because you just never know what you're going to find! It's where, for example, my amazing stash of Bingo Cards came from, and where I get all my fabric for that new line of books. Here's what I found today:
Vintage knitting magazine-size pamphlets. For those of you who've seen my artist books, you'll know that I can't pass up a vintage lady. And while I can knit, sweaters are still a bit beyond my skill level. They're a bit scruffy around the edges, but I'm sure I'll find a use for them. Any suggestions?

Bits of fabric. It's not that I don't have plenty of fabric to work with already, but I couldn't pass up the 70s orange & brown flowers, or the giraffes (!), or that "I still think it's 1982" patchwork. There's basically enough for one book from each. Perfect! And the price was totally right: 42 cents for the lot. You heard me right!

I hope you're enjoying your Saturdays, out there in la-la land. I'm off to work!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

paper + water = days of fun

Collaborations are awesome.
Here's Shelley at the Albertine Press studio, pretty early on day one of the Paper Marbling Crash Course/Delightful Boston Weekend. (I'm normally not a fan of random capitalization, but I'm so excited to talk about the weekend that it's either that or italics--ugh!) Shelley had marbled paper at summer camp years ago, and when she mentioned to me that she'd like to do it again, I jumped. Or rather drove four hours in a torrential thunderstorm to take part in the festivities.

Shelley had almost everything set up--paints mixed, sizing made, paper cut--so I got there and got straight to work!

Here's a brief how-to for those who've never marbled before:
1. brush one side of your paper with an alum/water mix. let dry.
2. mix the sizing (distilled water and carrageenan), let sit for awhile.
3. mix acrylic paints with a small bit of distilled water, and ox gall if needs be.
4. drop the paint onto the water, using droppers, toothpicks, little broom-like whisks, or anything you can think of.
5. lay the paper very carefully on the surface of the tray.
6. lift the paper, hang dry, then press flat.
7. clean the paint off the sizing, and repeat.

Of course, I'm leaving lots of things out. But it was so much less complicated than I thought.

Oh, and don't forget--
8. invite your friends!

Jesse of Firefly Press braved the rain to play with paint. And Kathleen (the designer at Taza Chocolate, Shelley's studio-neighbor) stuck her head in the door to say hi and stayed to make paper.

I have to say that making paper was totally amazing way to spend a weekend, but talking and getting to know Shelley and Jesse and Kathleen was really great, too.
Shelley was definitely the pro of the weekend--she can pull an amazing Spanish Marble on purpose, whereas I can only do one because my hands are shaky.

You might think that we ate, slept, and breathed paper for 48 hours, but we did take a break to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Smell-O-Vision (and bubble-vision, too: imagine a crowd of movie-goers sitting in a parking lot blowing bubbles in the dark!) with Shelley's husband Jacob (you can't really tell that he's a physicist, he's so funny!) and bits--ahem, Nibs--of Taza Chocolates.

Sunday morning I had breakfast on Newbury Street with my friend Katie, who manages the Simon Pearce on Newbury. Yummy yummy belgian waffles, lots of catching up on gossip, and much talk about art vs. production, and the ways of the retail world, before heading back to Cambridge and paper marbling.

A brilliant weekend, I must say. If you'd like to read more, check out Shelley's blog, and definitely look at the rest of the pictures on my flickr page.

Ta-ta for now!