(As I wrote that headline, I pictured a dancing newspaper boy biting a nickel to make sure it’s not wooden.)
I’ve discovered a small museum nearby, full to the rafters of old printing presses. It’s just up the road near Waukegan, Illinois, 40 minutes from me. It’s run by a kind, retired gentleman, and I’m headed up this afternoon to take a look. I’ll have the camera, which hopefully he’ll let me use.
As you can tell from my post a few days ago, I have a bit of a crush on letterpress printing. We started flirting back in 2000, when letterpress played hard to get. Too pricey a method for our low budget wedding announcements. But I knew we’d meet again.
“…in a little studio where we’d grow more strange by the day.“
I’m just beginning to pay attention to the process as the costs of the old presses are skyrocketing. Just think – a cottage industry really taking off… and it requires machines that were deemed obsolete and scrapped over three decades ago.
I’ve been thinking how much I’d like to create boxed notecards, etc. If all goes well, this side project could eventually allow Melissa to work with me at home, side by side in a little studio (where we’d grow more strange by the day.)
And if you’re thinking, “Bleh – who wants to place each tiny letter by hand?” well, listen to this. You can have high density polymer plates made of your text and images, so that essentially anything you can create in Photoshop becomes a three dimensional plate that accepts ink, pressing your image gently into the paper. I suppose the big old wooden cabinets full of tiny pieces of lead is more romantic – but I’m all about easing into a project these days.
And projects I’ve got.
Looking at my life from an outsider’s perspective, “Adventures in Letterpress” wouldn’t be the most apropos title for the next chapter in a life already full of fun hobbies and projects. Old Man Brad is already up to his waist in 1950’s Vespas, a 1920’s wooden canoe that needs finishing and a ‘63 Airstream that needs a lot of TLC. Not to mention eight old windows for our living room that need stripped, repainted and new sash hardware.
“We simply aren’t conventional people.“
But after unconsciously striving to be conventional for a very long time – the typical condo with typical furniture, eating at hip restaurants downtown and seeing the newest movies, I’m slowly accepting something about myself, and Melissa is realizing this about herself, as well. Melissa and I simply aren’t conventional people, and we’re not being fulfilled in following this conventional formula.
As our friends are moving to the suburbs and expanding their families, we’re daydreaming about packing up all our “projects” and buying 100 acres in rural Oregon. An idyllic setting near mountains and a big river, we sigh. We’ll build a bed and breakfast. A couple of rescued grehounds will lounge on the floor as we teach week-long classes in printmaking, ceramics and boatbuilding. All within a massive old barn turned studio.
For today though, I’m only going as far as Waukegan.