I returned from holiday this week, and I am feeling rested and ready to take on the upcoming term! Admittedly, I cheated a couple of times and checked my work email, but was able to stay *mostly* unplugged for my 10-day jaunt through mainland BC and the island.
For those who are interested, I'd like to share one of the highlights (word-related, of course) of my travels: the morning I spent learning about letterpress from Josh at Clawhammer Press in Fernie, BC.
Clawhammer is a beautiful shop that houses a small gallery and a fully-functioning letterpress studio. Clawhammer creates business cards, invitations, posters, coasters, and other ephemera. I picked up a set of coasters and a necklace and would have loved to have purchased several poster prints, but feared they would be squished as my journeys continued. In retrospect, I should have mailed them home to myself...
The studio has 350ish different kinds of typefaces in-house. My favourite were the large wooden sorts, but they had a variety of styles and sizes, all the way down to teeny tiny letters.
Fun fact: Apparently, the phrase "out of sorts" (as in, not feeling quite well) is thought to have its roots in typography. In Printers + Founders language, "sorts" are the letters used for printing ("a" is a sort, "b" is a sort, etc.) When a typesetter ran out of sorts - and was thus unable to continue working - they would become understandably irritated (particularly since many printers were paid according to the number of pages produced per day). Hence, out of sorts!
I had no idea how much precision went into preparing the sorts for printing - it really is a game of spacing and numbers. Remember last year when I found out I was basically a kerning genius? Well, turns out, my internet skills didn't translate to real life typography...
Josh was working on a gift for a friend, a print from a poem by Rumi:
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and
kiss the ground.
kiss the ground.
He generously let me try running a few proofs through, which was very fun. Although, you can tell by the smudges in the photo below that I have a tendency to manhandle the paper as it runs through the press. Josh let me keep one of the proofs as a keepsake, and it's currently leaning on a shelf in my living room awaiting a frame.
I was allowed to wander around the studio, as it wasn't too busy that morning. I poked around, finding vignettes of finished pieces, ongoing projects, and life at work. I must have snapped about 200 photos of the space, but am working on narrowing them down to a few favourites.
I wish there were a place like this closer to home.
Do you know of any great studios in our 'hood?
Thanks, Clawhammer, for a great introduction to letterpress!
Also, big ups to my sister who humoured my word nerdery with grace. She spent a solid couple of hours in the studio, in spite of her desire to get outside and up a mountain (she got the adventurer genes). Thanks, Bops!