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Tales from a Typographic Trip: Tale #2

by Hatch Show Print December 01, 2015

Each year for the last seven years, our comrades in wood type and print history at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, have put on a conference of sorts, simply called Wayzgoose. Traditionally, a wayzgoose happens at the end of the summer season: Print shops prepare for the cold months by insulating their windows with paper pulp, and cleaning up from the season’s printing chaos. Then the shop owner rewards all for a productive summer with a feast, often a roasted goose. This particular gathering takes place about ninety miles north of Milwaukee, on Lake Michigan. Designers, printers, typographers, type designers, and historians gather from the four corners of the planet—this year Spain and Australia were represented!—and the weekend is filled with workshops, talks, demonstrations, a print swap and sale, and as much talking into the wee hours as we can handle!

It is nearly impossible to exaggerate how fascinating and stimulating the weekend is; suffice it to say that we all average about four hours of sleep each night for three nights, and we all show up for work on time the following Monday! As it is an event that should be experienced and not read about, we’ll share some highlights here, and urge you to find your own way to Two Rivers, November 4-6, 2016.


First, we would like to introduce you to Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum’s resident artist for the next three years, none other than our own master printer, Jim Sherraden! Jim is the third artist to participate in this program. He is charged with bringing his artistry and skill to bear upon the incredible collection at the museum, which now includes a significant portion (if not all) of the hand-carved blocks from Cincinnati’s show poster shop, The Enquirer. Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum Director Jim Moran and Hatch Show Print’s Jim Sherraden are pulling a print from one of those blocks, above.


The Enquirer Show Poster Company started around 1898 and printed into the twenty-first century, though they ceased letterpress printing in the last half of the twentieth century. The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum seized an opportunity: By taking on the immense collection of hand- carved wood blocks used to make billboards and posters, as well as wood type, business ephemera and more, the museum ensured that the contents of The Enquirer can remain together as a cohesive representation of advertising artwork and design from that era. Most of the letterpress print work (and carved blocks) that has survived was done for circuses and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, among them this array of vibrant circus posters.


As prints of some of The Enquirer blocks were made through the weekend, they wound up getting put up in the most interesting places.


This year, Louise Fili and Steven Heller attended the Wayzgoose and shared stories with us on Friday evening, covering gorgeous Italian lettering and signage (Fili) and the design intelligence of Ladislav Sutnar (Heller). Carrying on a new museum tradition, Ms. Fili has developed a typeface design that will be cut in wood by the volunteer typecutters at the museum. This weekend, the face’s namesake, Mardell Doubek—also a former type trimmer and finisher in the factory—started cutting the type and left examples of it on display. We can’t wait to see this one in action, on presses, getting inky!


These geese showed up, but at the wrong address! The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum moved three years ago, and the old factory building they had inhabited for about twelve years was razed last year, leaving the perfect landing spot for migrating Canadian Geese.

 

Friday’s workshops included bookbinding, printing, paper marbling, and the printing and folding of more than two hundred printers’ caps for all of the attendees. Eric Woods of Firecracker Press led this activity and kept the students inky and happy all day long.


Saturday’s sessions covered the history of type and printing, including the premiere of a five-minute movie that has imagery and sound created solely from printing on the film,* and introducing most of us to a typeface we’d never seen before, from Spain, called Superveloz. This typeface comprises three hundred characters or parts that can be used to accent other type or built into letters and forms.


A founder of Familia Plomez—a community-based print shop in Spain—guest speaker Eva de La Rocha introduced us to the type, created this expressive lizard from Superveloz, and printed a keepsake for us!


Sunday closes with live music, provided in part by our own Heather Moulder, and the print swap. Printerly types of all persuasions get in on the fun, and attendees trade prints, see print work from around the world, and even pick up some materials (paper, type and a tiny press) to get started.


Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum’s shop is tidy and quiet right now, but it’ll be busy again soon! Hope to see you there next year!

*Stay tuned for a premiere of this incredible movie here in Nashville. The movie even features characters that will be quite familiar to friends of Hatch Show Print.