The Last Mile is the Hardest Mile

Category : type, Uncategorized

Everything is coated in ice, I haven’t run regularly for weeks, there’s always more snow in the forecast, and I have a serious issue with that groundhog.

2014-12-18 17.49.55

And why haven’t I been blogging? Too busy furiously setting type. And distributing. And setting. And distributing. Repeat. Repeat again.

The end is nigh. More soon.

Forme over function.

Category : art, pamphlets, type

So in this week’s episode of ridiculously-time-consuming-acts-performed-in-my-limited-free-time, I give you pamphlet, side two:

My favorite thing about letterpress is the fact that you have to build up something three-dimensional to print something two dimensional. So it’s sculptural and flat at the same time.

This can be something you carve:

Or something you assemble out of thousands of tiny pieces of metal:

Or something you improvise:

But it has to hold still somehow. The image on the second side of the pamphlet is based on this one:

Which is a woodcut, and I had to decide when I carved my block if I wanted to bother carving the letters or if I wanted to use metal type for that part and print it separately. I went with the second option.

So far, so good. Except now I have to build a forme around it to hold all those letters in place.

Ok, that’s a start.


Best. See all that stuff around the letters? That’s empty space. One of my favorite things in the world is when two contradictory ideas are simultaneously true.

I’m really happy with this one so far.

Too wordy.

Category : art, pamphlets, type

Every time I start a new pamphlet, I pretend that this one won’t be so wordy, but clearly I’m failing at this.

If I could just restrain myself, I’d be done by now. When I bought the type I’m using for the series, it was just about enough to set the whole thing. Those days are long gone. Each pamphlet gets wordier, which means more type. When I run out of letters, I have to print what I have, put everything back, then set the next bit, etc. At this point, I think I’m going to have to set, distribute, set, distribute, and set, distribute, set in order to get this one done.

Which is ok, I mean, obviously I like setting type. This is what I willingly did with my holiday weekend. I hope yours was just as pleasant and productive.

Bowne & Co.

Category : type

Bowne & Co. Stationers in the South Street Seaport have had a rough couple of years; the latest is the three feet of flood water that damaged their collection of rare nineteenth century type:

Bowne & Co., Stationers and Bowne Printers took just under three feet of salt water in superstorm Sandy, submerging around 230 cases of wood and lead type and lots of letterpress miscellany.

Robert Warner, Ali Osborn, and Gideon Finck are leading the rescue; wonderful and brave volunteers have been working every day to rinse, clean, and dry the type.

Robert Warner at Bowne is welcoming volunteers to help wash and dry metal and wood type. The museum has made progress cleaning up but still doesn’t have power and may not until November 11.

Prospective volunteers should contact Franny Kent at to schedule a full afternoon shift (12:00pm-4:30pm). Checks can be made out to South Street Seaport Museum, designated for Bowne in the memo line, and mailed to 12 Fulton Street, New York NY 10038. To make a gift online, click here.

Back to work.

Category : art, pamphlets, type

Finally starting to settle back down and get something done. Here’s the pamphlet in progress’s current state: The inside timeline gets a few more runs of color:

Which I was happy with, and which sidestepped the whole bright idea I had to try to register the thing precisely. Who needs precision?

I then had to figure out how to set up the text on top:

The printing went amazingly well, and I only had to make small corrections and tweak the lockup a little bit; the printing gods were thankfully with me.

This part of the timeline only goes up to 1912; I started running out of sorts and need to distribute this bit first in order to finish it. Because nothing is simple, and if it were I would be bored. This weekend I get to set the colophon and title and print the text on the other side.


Category : art, pamphlets, type

lead type in jobstick for pamphlet

I set most of the type for both sides of the pamphlet over the weekend; I ran into a few minor roadblocks, including a dearth of 8 point Grotesque #8 lowercase “i”s, but we’ll work it out.

lead type for pamphlet

It doesn’t really take all that long as people think to set type; its slow but soothing, and if you do it long enough you get quicker. I think what actually is going to take a long time with this one is setting up the timeline on the inside of the pamphlet in the bed of the press. I think it will take a while to get things lined up right.

This weekend I’ll proof and begin putting together the form for the inside.

I saw this yesterday and am blown away by the complexity of hand typesetting in Taiwan. Can you imagine?