Sunday, May 29, 2011

What headlines were made of // Wooden Type

(super dirty BEFORE picture)

This morning I begun cleaning off the layers of dust from my wooden letters bought from a defunct print shop in a nearby town. It closed doors almost two years ago after having been open roughly 100 years. When I had first started looking for a press, I had initially gone there to see if there was anything to be had. On that visit I noticed cases of wooden letters pretty much forgotten. Six months later I made another trip back.

During my visit the ex-printer shared a piece of the print shop’s history. He opened up one of the old local newspapers he had put away in a protective cover dating back to 1924. What stood out most to me was the fantastic handset non standard type used for headlines. Nothing classic or identifiable about the font; it was ballooned and pinched tight at the end to create its serifs like a bouncing elephant with tiny feet. Flipping through the pages, he showed me an advertisement for the print shop similar to their ironwork signage still hanging under the arcades of the main street. Then the book was closed and I was shown the cases of wooden type for sell.

(super clean AFTER picture)

Back at home wiping off grunge, I noticed fonts with accents (curious to an American girl) and letters like j, k and y that were much newer since they aren’t formally part of the Italian alphabet system, but have been brought into usage in very recent decades as these letters are too.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Letterpress Basics: Composure On A Stick

So the cool thing about the basics to hand setting type is it requires composure (meaning patience and organization) and, in my opinion, helps one appreciate the craft of letterpress that much more. Here are some of what you need to get started and a simple visual guide on how to hold your composing stick before you compose your first lines of type.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The shingle best thing about Austria

Recently we had the chance to stop at some friends' house in western Austria coming back from picking up my press. Strewn along the valleys of Switzerland and Austria were wooden chalets with steep pointed roofs. Historically, these affectionate buildings were built with economy and function in mind to keep warm during the alpine winters, and used seasonally as huts by cow herders to make food products like milk and cheese.

It was a pure inspirational color pallet of bright but subdued weather worn window frames and shutters against shingled exteriors. What a pleasant surprise to also find many restored buildings or new homes reflecting traditions of the past but with modern interpretations. Cafe Cabako was one of those really cool buildings with not just coffee in mind, but also bakery and practice music room upstairs that our architect friend Christian had a hand in. Definitely and exactly what I was looking for in terms of direction on designing of my own home studio...