New concrete slab poured, walls insulated, plywood sheathing added, 240 volt circuit added, LED shop lights installed, 240 volt shop heater installed... we managed to run some ink and bust out a couple print jobs last week. Fortunately Rebecca is a master at organization. This space will fill up fast. That said, I'm very excited about this cute little shop space. It is going to be a nice manageable way to keep ink flowing while settling-in after the hectic push of the last several months to clear out of the Stumptown Printers space.
Temporary storage for 30,000 pounds of equipment which has called Stumptown Printers home for the last 11-20 years. Linotype machine, 8 full magazine racks, proof press, Heidelberg 13"x18", 8"x12" platen, stones, guillotine cutter, type cabinets and more. The container will live on the outskirts of town near Clackamas. Eric squirreled away some offset presses and equipment at his in-law's barn up in the Skagit Valley, Washington. While the press operators will still be toiling away in the city, much of the Stumptown Printers equipment will be enjoying a countryside respite for at least a couple of months.
At the eleventh hour on the last day of January we managed to clear out the Stumptown Printers shop space. 20 years as a business. 11 years at this shop. Whew. What a journey. If we hadn't been down to the wire, it would have been ideal to have some sort of shindig to celebrate 20 years and future projects. Maybe a roller skating party or something like that. But, things don't always work out that way. Now we have to move on to caring for our presses and Linotype in storage, and to continue to set up the home print shop....
Another print run of “The Point.” The Point is a newsletter from the C.C. Stern Type Foundry. With “miscellaneous missives” penned by foundry volunteers. Composition was originally cast at the 11th hour before leaving for the 2018 American Type Casting Fellowship Conference. Types used: Linotype 10pt Caledonia 496 with Metro Medium and italic 462. Heading is set in Jensen Bold and cast on the Ludlow. There’s a sampling of DeVinne Monotype No. 11 cast on the Monotype sorts caster. Also miscellaneous Lino and Monotype decorative material.
The cap of the last Lino Lager has been popped and this limited bottling is long gone, so it's a good time for a follow up.
Several Linotype enthusiasts gave themselves a break from their “etaoin shrdlu” keyboards long enough to take a “slug” of this project - it was a good excuse to catch up with fellow line-casting and hot-metal print misfits.
The following are some highlights:
Thanks to Linotype operator and Baltimore Museum of Industry volunteer Steve Cole, the beer made it to the birthplace of the Linotype machine and Ottmar Mergenthaler’s long time home: Baltimore, Maryland. Steve Cole and Ray Loomis enjoyed a couple “slugs” of the Lino Lino lager after their volunteer shift at the museum, and properly honored the machine and the man with their celebration.
Our good pals Dave and Gnu from Dayton, Ohio couldn't make it, but they sent flowers to arrive in time for tasting event to help class the joint up a bit. Thanks guys!
Mr. Doug Wilson, director of “Linotype, the Film” broke away from the busy schedule at TypeCon and was able to join us at Stumptown Printers for the tasting party. It was very nice to catch up with Doug, talk Linotype machines, socialize with other TypeCon attendees, and to have more than a couple tastes of the then-two-day-fresh Lino Lager by Royale Brewing.
Frank Romano (author of History of the Linotype Company and executive committee member of the Museum Of Printing) participated, though he may not have known it. While chewing the fat about the origins of Mathew Carter’s Olympian typeface, Doug emailed Frank to get the story. Frank quickly responded and confirmed that in fact Olympian was the last Linotype face cut for hot metal composition. In fact, here’s a list of the last five faces that Linotype produced matrices for:
1972 Helvetica Condensed with Bold Condensed
1972 Helvetica Condensed with Bold Condensed
1972 Olympian with Bold
1972 Olympian with Italic
Thanks for the info, Frank.
Like an old pro, Amy Redmond knew what to do with her bottle of Lino Lager. She sat on the stoop of her pal's house while visiting Portland and slugged it down after delivering a killer talk at TypeCon earlier that day.
A Lino Lager made it out to the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain and into the clutches of my buddy and fellow Linotype operator Michael Babcock of Interrobang Letterpress. After it arrived, we jabber-jawed like a couple teenagers on the phone for about an hour while catching up and swapping Lino stories. Michael has been tuning up his machine and has been documenting some of his work here. His 31 is looking real clean, and he is putting a lot of love into it. Solid work.
Speaking of work, Bill and Tristin Spurling of Linotype.org happen to be darn good brewers and Linotype mechanics and hard working fellas. Naturally a couple of Lino Lagers landed at their Linotype farm in Yamhill, Oregon. It was good to check in with the lads.
Bill Washburn, Local craft printer, long time Linotype operator, mentor, friend, and pusher of lino-mats received a bottle of the lager, and as a result, it brought him out of his retired life and inspired him to visit us at the C.C. Stern Type Foundry. He's always got a good story, and it's always good to see him.
The C.C. Stern Type Foundry crew are always game for hot metal and print, after the special TypeCon C.C. Stern Type Foundry open house, the foundry team along with TypeCon attendees headed to nearby Royale Brewing to have pints of the Lino Lager and continue discussions about type and metallurgy.
Finally, the last 4 bottles traveled with us to the 2018 ATF conference hosted by M & H Type in San Francisco. As usual, it was an inspiring conference, and the crew at M & H did a fantastic job putting it all together. We put two of the bottles up on the auction block for the American Type Casting Fellowship fundraising auction. Auctioneer Greg Walters busted me by catching a typo on the label which I wasn’t aware of. Dang. A humbling blunder in that room full of master typographers and typesetters. Alas, Norman McKnight was a good sport and bid on the beers anyway, the sale of the beers raised a little money for the organization, and then Norman shared his winnings with the thirsty crew. It was an honor to pop the last tops of the Lino Lager at that event.
Update! I was reminded of additional Lino Lager adventures:
A bottle made it to Colorado, where its contents were enjoyed by board members and volunteers at the Letterpress Depot.
Myrna from Expedition Press stopped by the C.C. Stern Foundry during the TypeCon open house where 2 or 3 bottles stowed away with her back to the Expedition headquarters in Washington state.
Also, apparently a full bottle *still* exists within the worker's fridge at the Letterform Archive. Those folks hosted a special viewing of select materials from the archive during the American Typecasting Fellowship Conference. It was an amazing presentation and curation of the collection. Thanks for that, guys! As for the currently un-opened lager, I'll present you with this caveat: The lager is delicious when fresh, but the longer it sits, the more the taste resembles the first part of the name rather than the second. So if you decide to drink it, please keep that in mind!
I'll be casting some type and decorative border for a snazzy beer label, I hope to post some pics soon. Below is info about this collaboration from blog originally posted on the Stumptown Printers website....
Save the Date!
Friday, August 3rd 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Stumptown Printers Worker Cooperative
Steps away from the Yellow Line Albina/Mississippi MAX Station
2293 N. Interstate Ave
Portland, OR 97227
In honor of the Linotype Machine, commercial print and a job well done, enjoy a taste of “Lino-Lager,” a limited bottling of Royale Brewing’s most popular brew. This limited bottling will be adorned with labels composed on our in-house 1946 Linotype model 31 machine. Hang out, talk shop and traditional print in a classic commercial print shop while the sun sets over the Fremont Bridge. The Linotype machine will be on, we’ll be casting Caledonia 10 ^ 496 for a new C.C. Stern Type Foundry publication. Demos will be given until the operator has consumed too much "Lino-Lager." There will be a small supply Lino-Lager bottles available for purchase. Come raise a glass Ottmar Mergenthaler, his amazing machine and to hot-metal type composition. See you there!
The official CD release show is a week from today at the Moon and Sixpence Pub, but I've got some available for purchase here and now. Cover designed and printed entirely from Linotype composition. The package design is "The Fremont Folder" by Stumptown Printers. See additional pictures, specifications and information about this print here. To learn more about the music, click here.
Folks, it has been an interesting time in my world of commercial print. General overhead and cost of doing business is going way up, print runs have been going way down. The customer base at my workplace Stumptown Printers is still going strong, the commercial work that we do is always fun and challenging, but the name of the game in the industry are clicks on the press, and the clicks aren't what they used to be. Gone are the days of 15,000 "limited edition" custom paper-based CD packages. Low clicks and high costs aren't a good recipe for a "mom and pop" commercial job shop. We're hanging in there, riding it out as long as we can, and also adjusting our vision for a future of "analog" ink-on-paper classic printing.
Honestly, while I'm worried about our business and my livelihood, I have more concern for the music biz as a whole, and especially how decreased sales of physical music releases have impacted aspiring independent musicians. Man. Without sales of affordable music media*, it's tough for the small independent artist to make enough scratch to cover the expenses of tour, etc. Really, I don't know how "the kids" do it these days, and I hope that the tradition of hopping in a beat-up van with your bandmates to tour and share music, build community, have an adventure, and learn a thing or two about life is still viable. Gotta give those musicians love, folks. Please support them, 'cause it is getting tough to be a troubadour. And the troubadours make the world a better place.
Back to print. There is a silver lining to a lean commercial production schedule: I've had time to plant myself in the Linotype chair and work on creating composition for printing that is outside the scope of Stumptown Printers’ normal “job work.” It has been an absolute thrill to bond with the machine again. Really, I can't believe that a dirt-bag-commercial printer like myself has the opportunity to operate such a thing of beauty — a thing that in my mind stands as a monument to the machine era, the poetic balance of human hand, human touch, human ingenuity and power of cast iron, steel and brass driven by motors and flywheels. The Linotype machine is art and industry and everything in-between, and... it still works. It is still telling its story. Imagine that. My machine is from 1946. It has been through a lot. A lot of operators. A lot of news. A lot of celebration. A lot of death. A lot of all of it. And while it needs attention and repairs, it still dutifully creates beautiful type. Some of which has never been digitized, has never seen a computer. And all of which looks a heckuva lot more beautiful and much more of this world than its digital counterpart. It is a gorgeous thing.
I can count myself among a relatively small handful of folks who have the honor to be the custodians of these wonderful hot metal type composition machines, and as such, it is my goal to keep this one in good working order and casting nice type beyond my time at its keyboard. Just as the operators before me have done. That's the idea. And that goal can't be accomplished if the machine is idle. It is happiest when it is doing what it was designed to do: cast type.
So let’s do it! Time to cast.
Below is a list of projects that I’ll be working on while I have the extra time to sit behind the Linotype keyboard. I'm sharing these projects with you to put a little extra pressure on myself to see these projects through to the inking stage. Thank you for being an unsuspecting accomplice.
- The Horsenecks "Fiddlehead" CD cover. Printed exclusively from Linotype Composition. Additional info here.
- Lino-Lager beer labels, coasters, and ephemera. Yes! A beer to honor the Linotype and its inventor: Ottmar Mergenthaler (I’ll be handling the printing and Linotype, not the beer-making)
- Composition for a series of mesostic poems for artist, mentor and good friend Barbara Tetenbaum.
- Mother Foucault's Bookshop monthly calendar of events (See post here)
- 12"x12" broadside subscription series
- An artist book for my buddy Mark Owens. I cast this type years ago, but haven’t finished it. Time to dust it off and put some ink to the forms.
- Linotype Matrix Slide Being. 3rd in a series of 6. (Previous prints can be viewed here and here)
- Composition for “The Point” a small publication put together by the C.C. Stern Type Foundry Crew.
- Linotype Matrix slide inventory and notecards. Over the years I’ve acquired a fair amount of border Matrix slides. Many of them have not been identified or inventoried, so I hope to print a limited selection of note cards using the border matrix slides as I’m identifying and organizing them.
If you are in the neighborhood of Stumptown Printers, stop on by to see the progress of the projects listed above. You'll find me behind the Linotype keyboard.
* Yes, vinyl. I know. Sales are up on vinyl. I love it. There's nothing like building a relationship and appreciation for a band or artist when listening to a record. It's the way to do it. Also, as a printer, the larger format of a 12" record offers opportunity to lay down some fancy ink and artwork. That's all good. But it takes some serious coin to release a vinyl record, and it's a serious pain to haul records around on tour.
I squirreled away these 3 galleys of Caledonia after discovering them among a collection of matrices I recently purchased. I had no idea whether the fonts were complete or not, but was looking forward to running some tests. Recently I had the opportunity. I'm working on spec'ing type for a book project, and I'm hoping that this type will fit the bill. Rebecca took inventory of the mats - aside from a couple missing small caps, they appear to be complete. Next step: find a magazine to empty and clean....
Mother Foucault's July Events Calendar. Edition of 300. Printed on newsprint.
Using some of newsprint's best pals, Linotype 8^502 Excelsior with Memphis Bold and 14^288 Memphis Extra Bold Condensed with Gothic No. 13. I love the functional beauty of those Linotype legibility faces - in this case complete with rowdy jumping lowercase "o" and dropping lowercase "t." This is the first time I had the opportunity to run these mats, I was pleased to find that they are in relatively good shape, and that they ran clean in the magazine. Mother Foucault's is hosting a lot of events these days, stop by and check one out and pick up a Linotype composed and letterpress printed events schedule.
Quote from Bohumil Hrabal's book "Too Loud a Solitude" cast and printed during C.C. Stern Type Foundry open hours. Type cast on the foundry's 1948 Linotype Model 31. The colophon pictured above provides additional details. I believe that a couple of these prints are still available, ask for one the next time that you visit C.C. Stern Type Foundry.
March 12th, 2018.
It's 11:07 on Monday night, and I'm writing this under a cloud of black smoke coming from a smoldering automobile scrap yard fire. There's an evacuation in place for our neighborhood two blocks up wind, but the EPA deems that the level of toxins over our place is at an acceptable level for humans. Okay. A moment like this does offer an opportunity to learn a thing or two about tires and tire fires - like this: One auto tire contains about 2 gallons of petroleum products. 2 gallons! When that tire is on fire, the smoke can carry fine particulate matter and other nastiness which may include asbestos, aldehydes, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, toluene, styrene, metals and dioxins. Interesting stuff. The kind of thing that one does not think about unless it appears in their backyard, or in the air directly above them.
Well, whether or not we're breathing that stuff in right now, that cloud has colored my thoughts a bit - I had intended to write about inspiring printing, not burning tires. We have enough garbage in our lives, I don't need to fill your eyeballs with more of it.
Which brings me to the topic that I had intended to write about in the first place: A recent “Type Jam” at the C.C. Stern Type Foundry featuring Mark Sarigianis of Prototype Press. There we saw a jaw-dropping example of the beautiful things people make - which is a heart warming antidote to the apocalyptic-trash-cloud that we're currently experiencing. The attendees of this Type Jam had the opportunity to take a first look at Mark’s recently completed fine press edition of Charles Bukowski’s “Ham on Rye.” In an edition of 52 copies, this 364 page, 5 pound (my guess) humdinger of a book is the result of two years of labor, love and even a healthy dose of suspense.
Set in 12pt Goudy Powell and cast by Mark on the Prototype Press Monotype comp caster, the typeface has a wobbly but stout appearance - fitting for the words of the professional drinker that Bukowski was. Nothing delicate about those letterforms, but there's poetry within that typeface all the same, and it holds the ink beautifully on handmade cotton paper from St. Armand. The book is illustrated with wood cuts by Sean StarWars. The illustrations are over printed on tint blocks which alternate with Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. The utilitarian color-tool-box of the commercial printer. Another nod to Bukowski's working class story.
Rebecca and I visited Mark about a year ago, shortly after the building where his shop is housed was sold. The new building owners required that his shop space be partially deconstructed. This was in the middle of the first half of printing Ham on Rye. We found him working away under blue tarps and five gallon buckets which were catching in-coming rain water. Mark was in the process of recycling forms that had been printed in order to make room and more type for the remaining pages of the book. Yikes. This is a stage of the book production where if a mistake is made; days, weeks, months are lost. A keen focus on triple-checking galley proofs and printed final sheets is critical. Yet Mark was undeterred. Under adverse shop conditions with no guarantee that the new building owners would continue to rent to the current tenants, the progress of the book hardly slowed. Pretty nerve wracking, I'd say. It is challenging enough to maintain old type casting and printing equipment so that it is capable of producing this level of fine press book work, so I find it very inspiring that Mark was able to forge ahead under the tarps and uncertainty of the immediate future of the shop location. Mark's edition of Ham and Rye is truly a beautiful monument to the poetry of the every day struggle that Bukowski is celebrated for.
Take that, tire fire.
Check out pictures and a much more thorough description of the book here at the The Whole Book Experience blog.
March winds are blowing in some fresh print related events at the C.C. Stern Type Foundry. You can read about up-coming events in the foundry newsletter here. This evening, there will be a "Type Jam" with Mark Sarigianis of Prototype Press. He’ll be discussing the production of his recently completed book: Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye. Two years in the making, this 364 page sandwich will surely satiate the hunger pangs of print inspiration and nourish the dreams of daily commercial print workers for months. Not that I know anything about that. Really, hearing Mark’s process and seeing his work is going to be inspirational, folks. Hopefully I’ll see you there.
Mail call. Love it. I received this treasure recently from my new Linotype buddy Rubén Brizuela of Editorial Martín Fierro in Mendoza, Argentina. It's a key chain from "Allegretta," a former parts supplier for Linotype, Intertype, Ludlow and Elrod machines. It was given to Rubén's father for being a loyal customer. Rubén is now responsible for keeping the machines running at his Father's shop. You can see his work here.
Recasting a line from a Joe Green poem that will hopefully find its way on press soon. I originally cast this on a free weekend about a year ago, but job work took over and the poem was tucked away on a quiet galley. Now that the weather has cooled and nights have become chilly, the poem “House Warming” has been on my mind. Time to ink up! Today I found that the word spacing was a little tight on one of the lines – about a year ago I was excited to learn a trick which allows single position Linotype display mats to run on a duplex display mold. Must have been more focused on the trick than on the word spacing. So, fixed!
Recent project at the C.C. Stern Type Foundry: Run mats out of the magazine, proof and inventory, clean mats, clean magazine. This proof is of Excelsior 11 ^ 120. We’re short on the lower case “r.” There are only 2. That will be a problem. Hopefully they’re hiding out in a sorts drawer somewhere. Also, after going through about a pig’s worth of metal while casting this, the slug consistently was rough on the right side. This problem persists even after having replaced the mouthpiece and sawing out the throat. The mouthpiece heater is probably on its last legs. For now, I’ll add em spaces to avoid the edge of the slug, but will certainly have to revisit this issue in the future.
Metromedium No 2 (14^198, 14^186) - has been on my mind. I’ve been having fun casting and printing it. It is bold yet holds a distinct grace and plays well with ink. It prints nicely. And at 14pt, it’s an smooth runner on the machine. Initially I found the appearance of the figures “5” “0” to be a little striking (see pic) - I had suspected that sorts belonging to another version of the typeface had errantly found their way into the magazine. But no, the font number was confirmed and matched. I think it’s a nice feature - the lighter stroke of these figures add a “pulse” to surrounding text which teases the eye along the page. I’m also happy that this particular font includes the “special No 1” cap W, which was not the standard cap "W" redesigned for "Metro No. 2." As I understand, the "special No 1" sorts reflect Dwiggins’ original Metro drawings. (However, a third version of the cap "W" was also offered as an option as indicated in the Linotype's "Big Red" spec book, so don't quote me on that) More info about the evolution of Metro can be found in this excellent article by Paul Shaw. Anyway, the mats are in good shape, the sidewalls are sound and I’m tickled to cast and print from them. Here’s another example of the typeface used in recent piece set in all caps.
The broadside / poster pictured was printed to promote an upcoming film screening and panel discussion sponsored by the C.C. Stern Type Foundry. Foundry volunteers cast the type used on the poster, Jeff Shay cast that gorgeous cutting of Garamond (48pt, 24pt, 18pt) on his Ludlow at Buzzworm Studios (after proofing these slugs, I went down a Robert Hunter Middleton internet rabbit hole - to be explored later. Hopefully Jeff will be my guide, because it looks like I could get lost real fast. Amazing stuff there…), Rebecca Gilbert cast decorative ornaments on the monotype sorts caster at the C.C. Stern Type Foundry, and I cast the above mentioned Metromedium No 2 and smaller sizes of Garamond using the Linotype at Stumptown Printers. Rebecca then masterfully handled the press work at Stumptown Printers. The poster was a good excuse for a collaborative hot-metal project. Nice work, team!
If you’re in Portland, please come to the event.
Pressing On: The Letterpress Film
Tuesday, September 19th
Clinton Street Theater
2522 SE Clinton Street
Portland, OR 97202
Linotype Alumilite Magazines Shall not be trusted. This is the second one that has failed on me. No fun. The brass bottom magazines are quite heavy to haul around, but those suckers are solid. I haven't experienced this issue with the heavier magazines.