The letterpress stuff came with the book arts. I was a printmaking major at SFAI, mostly an etcher/photographer when introduced to letterpress. As teen in the eighties, we were all about xerox and punk aesthetic (though aside from The Violent Femmes, I listened mostly to musicals-fasten your seat belts it's gonna be eh eh eh eh---a bumpy night!), and honestly I don't recall seeing letterpress anything. I had longed to make artist books since getting an inkling of the activities at Penland and the Women's Studio Workshop. It took several semesters, but I finally got into Charles Hobson' s Books Arts Class. The longing to get image/text together is natural for a print maker- prints and books are of apiece, and though I've tried to tease them apart, to just make prints, or just to write, I always feel the lack of the other. I need the help of context, and don't slot easily into existing ones. With a book (or any image/text relationship), you create your own context right there. Even laura with her glass menagerie, I mean, think about it-what if she made zines?!
So-this post-to M and H type foundry-http://www.arionpress.com/mandh/. We got to see Lewis Mitchell at work on the keyboard typing out lines to be cast and we listened to the clatter of the monotype casters-a Svankmeyerien symphony with shimmering pools of hot tin, lead and antimony. I believe they were sewing the Arion Press Bible at that time, too. It was all very large. I was still wondering how I was going to make work when I got out of school and didn't have presses, darkrooms, arc welders...hang a shingle over my Gocco?
There's a fantastic video bio of Lewis on Vimeo HERE.
So cut to twelve or so years later, Doug and I are at an M and H open house to buy type to use with the C and P we've just added to the shop after trying to get a Miles Nervine headache press to cooperate for a couple of years. Our eight year old is skipping down the long hall to the casting room lined floor to ceiling with neat boxes of type. We are just beginning, but you've got to understand the joy at having got there!
We were mesmerized by the clacking Monotype casting machines. Here are a couple of videos of the machines in action: