31 March 2013

Silver Buckle Press Is the Gold Standard

This is a repost of a story I did for the UW Libraries' new News & Events site, which is a great source of information about the mind-boggling array of cool things going on there.

Hand-inked print.
Hand-inked print
For fans of typography and print history, Silver Buckle Press, located on the second floor of Memorial Library, is a resource that is both charming and vital to the preservation and the celebration of print and printing. Silver Buckle Press is a working museum of letterpress printing – a living archive of materials and process.

Letterpress printing involves the actual setting, inking, and impressing of pieces of type in a printing press—creating an artisanal print a world away from the quotidian office inkjet.

Press History
The University of Wisconsin Libraries acquired Silver Buckle Press from the estate of Robert Shaftoe, an art director at the Ford Company and printing hobbyist, in the early 1970s. According to its director Tracy Honn, one of the most important things about Silver Buckle is that its holdings are “not behind glass.” Its mission, she said, is to be a demonstration and education lab.

Silver Buckle Press Today
Rather than collecting dust, Silver Buckle collects fans. For students and scholars in departments like English and art, Silver Buckle Press is, well, the gold standard.

Katie Garth, a graphic design student, is the current Printing Assistant. “On a typical day, I might distribute type, assist in print production, perform research for upcoming projects, or help Tracy prepare for tours and other visitors,” she said. “My understanding of letterpress printing was initially informed by my study of graphic design, which led me to take an interest in book arts and printmaking.” Also, she found the draw of “set[ting] type  away from the screen and combin[ing] the design process with fine art printmaking” hard to resist.

Collection Highlights
But how to determine the Press’ pièce de résistance?

Honn is understandably proud of Silver Buckle’s specimens of Van Lanen, a typeface the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (less than 100 miles north of Milwaukee) commissioned Matthew Carter to do. And so Carter, the MacArthur Fellowship-winning type designer who gave the world the Verdana font, created his first wood type—which is named after the Hamilton’s founder Jim Van Lanen. Silver Buckle is one of only three institutions in the U.S. that own the Van Lanen typeface.

Chicago hand press.
Chicago hand press
Honn also directs the visitor’s attention to what could forgivably be called the most adorable printing press anyone has ever seen. The Sigwalt No. 11 press is a tabletop model used by amateur journalists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. “They [did] the same sort of thing bloggers do,” Honn said. “We’re coming back around to a sense of doing it on your own.”

Visit Silver Buckle Press for more information about the press, its history, and current activities. To view rare historic materials, visit the Silver Buckle Press Collection in the UW Digital Collections.

Images courtesy of Silver Buckle Press.

29 March 2013

Faythe Levine's New Film Is Ready

Last week during SGC's I stopped by Sky High Gallery to peep the show by The Little Friends of Printmaking, who are, unfortunately, still planning to move to California.

Whilst there, I, of course, chatted a little with Faythe, whom I had approached earlier about being the topic of the research project I'm doing for my art education class. (She graciously said yes.)

I was really excited to hear that her new film about sign painters is done and that she's booking it. Yay! Unfortunately, it wasn't completed in time to make it into this year's Wisconsin Film Festival. Dang. I hope to play a part in its screening here in Madison, though. I, ahem, actually haven't seen Handmade Nation yet, so perhaps that could be a double feature.

I will be writing a piece for Bitch magazine's blog about Faythe, too.

22 March 2013

SGC | Milwaukee | 2013

Two great tastes that taste great together: Milwaukee and printmaking.

I am going to the SGC International conference in Milwaukee! Yay! I would've been even more awesome if I'd had Spring Break this week and wasn't going at the ass end, but such are the vicissitudes of grad school life...

I want to blog more about cool stuff that's going on and is accessible and the fact that this can just be part of one's life. That sentence was, indeed, totally really amorphous, but it's been a bee in my bonnet about creative work this past year.

Amos Kennedy won't be there this year, which is too bad because I could've added to my nascent art collection. But I guess the man did just up and move across the country, so I totally get it. Or he might have a show he's getting ready for.  (Hmm. Maybe I should edit and post the interview I did with him last semester?? I can haz content!)

The (always awesome) Little Friends of Printmaking will be there, and it's always great to catch up with them. (Not that I'm expecting them to change their name or anything.) I did see them at Ritz Crafters and buy the tuxedo cat on a bike poster last month. But they're still moving to L.A. Boo! Shame! Unfortunately, I will not make it to the opening reception for the show at Sky High Gallery tonight because of aforementioned vicissitudes.

But many thanks to them for permission for the use of the image above.     

12 March 2013

I'm Going to Israel-Palestine. Ask Me About It!

Photo by Eric J. Ogi

Obviously, I'm very excited about this. Lots of really cool opportunities. The trip is arranged by The Crossing. More info later...