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A friend of mine recently bought me dinner in exchange for a a few hours of printing instruction on his new Golding Official No. 2 Printing Press. It was a fun time, showing him how to clean and keep up his press, some basic type setting and making a list of supplies he still needed before he could really get rolling. I really love teaching people about printing (my first love, er, well second after my Other Half…)

A Printing Student Pulling his First Prints

A Printing Student Pulling his First Prints

So I got to thinking, maybe I could offer private letterpress printing lessons. Over the last coupla years, I’ve had people ask me if I could teach them how to use their new press, or if they could come to my house and learn to use mine and see if they should make the commitment to buying a press. (I always wished I could, but my print shop is the size of a postage stamp so two people in there is really hard to maneuver. ) Also, several people I know have presses that just sit unused because they’ve become discouraged trying to teach themselves to print with a press that might just need a tune up, or with type too worn for a crisp print. These are problems a few good Lessons could really help empower New Printer!

Here’s what I’m thinking: say you just bought a cute little table-top 3×5 hobby press from eBay for the affordable price of one arm (let’s hope you had the forethought not to pay with your printing arm), one leg and your first born child. It needs to be cleaned up, and you’re just unfamiliar enough with the mechanics of a table top press to want to start taking it apart. That’s where I come in.

You send me a message, and tell me you just got this press, and we set up a time for me to come over to your house or studio or class room, wherever the press is kept(its easier to go to it, than bring it to me). I’ll bring with me a small box of supplies in case you’re not sure what exactly you need yet. This way, you can get a good visual of any tools or miscellany you might not have acquired, and some hands on experience with things like quoins and gauge pins.

First things first, you will learn the Care and Feeding of your new little Kelsey. We oil and clean, adjust the platen, tighten loose bolts or pins, adjust the rollers, getting quite intimate with the machine. The lessons would be billed by the hour, so we can take as much time as your schedule and budget allow, but for the sake of example, today you only have 2 hours to spare. We get the press clean and moving freely for now, while setting up another date for Lesson 2.

Then maybe you’d like to know more Basic Printing, learn some typesetting skills, more vocabulary, make-ready and packing the platen. Perhaps Lesson after that if you want to keep going is getting more in-depth typesetting techniques down, or working on locking up your forme. It can be tailored to what you, the student needs as you progress. Then, one day you won’t need me anymore. *Sniff. *Tear. But I’ll say “So long for now, Good bike, Good bilt, good bauble!” because I’m just terrible with good-byes. You’ll be printing on your own, with hands-on knowledge to get you off on the right foot.

While I’m no Paul Moxon, I do have a bunch experience on Vandercook proof presses, C&P platen presses and a myriad of other table top proof presses so I could help get the ball rolling with more than just your little table top lever presses. I’m imagining all these sessions to be informal and a lot of fun for both of us.

Is this something you budding hobbyists would like to have available? I’m sure to get responses about “I wish you were in my area!” and maybe that could be worked out, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll schedule a Tour!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

A new year already! Sheesh how does it ALWAYS sneak up on me? Lock and Key Press has had a tumultuous year, full of lots of wonderful things, and a few really awful things. But like they say you have to take the good with the bad. But right now, I’m just taking time off.

Since this almost 2 year shuffle between Chicago (<3) and Saint Louis (</3), I've become extraordinarily burnt out. Working 7 days a week, lots of heavy lifting (see previous posts), and a lot of emotional stress (its amazing how many calories you burn with worry) necessitate a wintertime hibernation period.

I've done the holidays, eaten my fill of cookies and egg nog, welcomed the new year under a Blue Moon and now I’m taking off my shoes, putting on my sweats and not taking them off til spring, or until I get too bored and have to put my apron on and get back to printing. It is a well deserved winter vacation, and hopefully the spring will bring about a more stable existence for me with more time printing and snuggling cats and boyfriend and less time on the Amtrak.

To you and yours, a Healthy, Wealthy, wonderful 2010! See you in a few weeks, refreshed!

SMP666

SMP666 posters

Check me out using my new (old) Line-O-Scribe sign press to print posters for the 666th annual Scary Movie Party, an event I helped create that is going public baby! Yeah!

This method of printing is called “Use What You’ve Got” or as I like to describe all my printing, Quick and Dirty. I picked up the press that day, and using only what came with it (two interesting cabinets of drawers full of very worn lead and badly damaged wood type) plus some borrowed ink, we banged out a bunch of blurry, slimy glossy inked prints on coated paper. (My fellow printers, you can assume the challenge that posed, like grease on a banana.) Needless to say, they were a hit with the hipsters, as was the show.

The “new” Line-O-Scribe:

Locked and loaded.

Locked and loaded.

The forme. Because this is a galley height press,(I think, either that or the roller is REALLY shrunken) I had to substitute a cut apart cereal box for the underlayment to bring the forme to proper height. mmm Kashi.

Kashi is a good galley

Kashi?

And then, in real Quick and Dirty style, we inked it up three colors at once. Behold, the messiness:

Quick and Dirty inking

Quick and Dirtu Inking

(Are you keeping track of the beer bottles? Its funny to watch them pile up. Scrimshaw was appropriate…)

And then, we print! First, because of the condition of the roller (don’t ask me how much this cost), I had to pack the forme to get an impression and to keep the filthy roller from marking the reverse of the prints. I used a piece of polyester felt Jessi had that seemed to work just right.

Felt

Felt Packing

VIOLA! The first print!

The First Prints

The First Prints

And finally, the Artists Formerly Known as Sane People, Jessi and Jenny! Big round of applause for their mediocre production!

Artist?

Artists or drunks?

But we had fun. At least it looks like we had fun. I was so sleep deprived by the end of it I don’t really remember much of the printing. Ugh. Art hurts sometimes. :)

And not a word about the fact that its December 6 and I just now got around to posting about something I made in October. Shush!

So I went to look at some studio spaces in Bridgeport neighborhood last night with a friend who is interested in teaming up to split costs. The area is great, old industry, converted to modern small-scale manufacturing.

The building I was looking at is part of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, otherwise known as Bubbly Dynamics owned by John Edel. I’ve been acquainted with him for some time, and remember when the building was just taking its baby steps toward renovation. It was a mess, really, full of timber, old windows, junk and other people’s storage (John’s a nice guy like that). I haven’t been there in almost 2 years, and when I rolled up on my bicycle, I didn’t recognize the place!

The road had been paved, the factory across the street was razed. There was a sidewalk and curb cuts, and TREES. Wow. What a difference. Chicago really did some work over there. That makes me glad. Then, inside the building was another impressive sight. John had transformed this building into a gorgeous glowing example of economy and sustainability, married with fantastic design and beauty.

The walls that I’d been previously impressed with the fact that they had been sheet rocked finally, were now real solid walls, painted, trimmed with art on them. Oh! The big lobby sign was great too! The windows and doors and all the little things: finished and sealed concrete floors, HEAT!, some nice ficus in the hallways, lovely hand made railings on the stairs. So lovely.

As we toured the building, John pointed out how all the materials were salvaged, or donated. This door was pulled out of a junk yard, this railing was old brewery pipe, this glass block wall was reconstructed from block that was taken out of somewhere else in the building, this expensive Italian tile in the restroom was left behind by a contractor. Yay! For freebies.

We saw two different available spaces in the Center. One on the second floor, with nice windows. Not much of a view, but what can you really ask for in the manufacturing district? (Also, it smelled like cinnamon the whole time we were there. The Factory down the road, makes every kind of off-brand “Pop-Tart” sold in the US.) This space was just about 600 square feet. More than adequate for my needs, but I was going to team up with Chuck, so we went to the basement to see the larger space, but not before we went up to the roof.

A few years ago, I had gone to Bubbly and helped plant the roof top garden. John’s daughter’s face had been pixelized and mapped out with plant colors, and we were planting a picture of her. It didn’t look like much then, but now, wow! I can’t wait to Google Maps updates their satellite photos! Its very clearly a child’s face on the roof, in plants!

Then down to the basement, we saw an 1100 square foot space. Holy cow, it was SO BIG. It was empty and that made it feel even bigger. My voice echoed and to tell you the truth, I was a little intimidated by the vat openness of it. Agoraphobia, just a smidgen. Chuck liked that space. He likes to spread out and says he has done his best work in basements. :)

Now I’m rolling around the numbers in my head, thinking about what I’d have to do to get into that space. Sheesh. I’d have to get the capital funds to start up the business. Then, I’d have to move all my equipment in, which would be ok because there’s a freight elevator and loading dock. Then, I’d have to get all my stuff up from Saint Louis that’s still sitting over there. ugh. Then there’s planning to bring in enough money to pay rent in 2 spaces one to live one to work. Thankfully, the utilities are included at Bubbly.

The other tenants we met seemed excited to have printing in the building. Two are screen printing artists, and a few are people I know from the O.G. Chicago bicycle scene. It seems like an ideal space to work from, collaborate within and maybe become a real participating part of something meaningful and sustainable.

The only problem now, is the funding. And the fact that if I have the space, I now NEED a Vandercook. Dang.

Last weekend was the Amalgmated Printer’s Association Wayzgoose, also called the Playgoose, and the Iowayzgoose because it took place in Mt. Pleasant Iowa.

Mt. Pleasant is a middle-of-nowhere kind of town. Unmarked roads, faded vinyl siding, its not too much to see really. But they have the Midwest Old Threshers, a big fairgrounds with several buildings on it, all housing turn-of-the-century equipment for industry and farming, even a few exhibits on homestead technology from when the Pioneers settled and farmed Iowa and the surrounding region.

The Midwest Old Threshers is also home to a wonderland of giant steam powered machines, including a steam-powered electric generator from a mental hospital that generated its own power up until the 1960s:

A life-size Steam Locomotive Train on a 1.25 mile track around the grounds:

And even a Printer’s Hall with a steam powered printing press!

This year, the Annual Great Northern and Midwest Printer’s Fair ALSO coincided with the Annual APA Wayzgoose, making this event a double-your-fun, double-your-excitement weekend.

I camped out over the weekend, out by the trolley tracks (yes, they have a working trolley too!) and a lot of time exploring all the museums had to offer. Steve Alt, one of the volunteers there and an all around awesome guy (who not only prints on a 100 year old press powered by an antique gasoline engine, but also restores antique cars and engines), gave me a few great tours of the place. He took me into the boiler room and its his voice you hear in the first video explaining the mechanics of the generator. He also got me into the cab of the No. 9 and on the caboose for a ride around the track!

He let me print a few pieces on his Gordon Press for the APA print exchange bundle, which was so much fun! I used it powered by the engine, and also foot-treadled it manually. Its a fantastic little press!

A Few Prints

A Few Prints

The Swap Meet was great! There were a lot more vendors than last year, and a lot more people from the outside I think. I sold a good amount of things from Mr. Meers, and then put a lot of the rest into the auction. We made some good coin at the auction! I was very pleased. I ended up selling 75% of what I had lugged up there. Awesome!

I got to put a lot  of faces to names, which was good too. Many people I’d “met” on printing forums or mailing lists, and never spoken to face to face. Now, I’m proud to actually be able to call them acquaintances. I got to rub elbows with of the fellows from the Hamilton Wood Type Museum,  Jim Moran. We talked about workshops and events up in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. I hope I can make it out there in December for a presentation by Jim Sherraden of Hatch Show Print.

It was a really great weekend, and I can’t wait for next years Wayzgoose in Huntington, W. Virginia!

The worst part of making so many note cards, like I do, is having to score and fold them all one at a time with a triangle and bone folder on my knees on the living room floor. Yes, the floor, because I there’s no where else, and the kitchen table is where the sewing machine lives so-

No more! I’ve found this handy little number among the heaps of junk in the Meers collection.

Score!

Score!

How cool!!!! An antique scoring machine. I love it already. It will score at least two sheets of card stock at once, nice and smooth. Its lever action would make short work of maybe four or more sheets. I’ll have to try it today.

When I pulled it out, it was covered in rust and really dirty. I wiped it down and took some 200 grit sand paper to it. It was tedious, because of all the ins and out and little grooves to sand out. Then, I wiped the whole thing down with a thin coat of machine oil, and oiled all the joints. I wish I had a “before” picture, but I was too excited to bother with pictures at the time.

The Paper Guide

The Paper Guide

The back of it has a lovely little paper guide that I thought was frozen one with rust but a little sanding and oil and it slides nice and smooth now. I don’t know why its green. I don’t think it was painted, I have a feeling someone used it as an ink mixing surface. :/ Hacks.

Its just so simple and beautiful and practical! It makes me actually WANT to score hundreds of note cards and envelopes! yay!

Like, seriously, really, completely the grossest thing in the world. Excepting maybe eating a snail. That’s number one. Termites, Numero Dos.

A few weeks ago, we had a big clean out of Mr. Meers property. His three adult children and a few grand-kids came to Chicago to help go through all the trash and junk. They cleaned out the third floor, the garage, the basement, the building next door and the basement for the building next door: Three full dumpsters. You know those big long roll-off can type, not the bins behind buildings, no. The giant ones. Full. Three of them. I wish I had thought to snap a photo of just ow full these things were with all the trash we threw away.

Down in the basement of the house, we cleaned out a giant pile of paper that had been a termite colony for some time, and then abandoned by them (termite nuclear war?). I was so relieved to see that pile get thrown away. Going in that corner of the basement made me sick, because I could HEAR the termites burrowing. GROSS.

The worst part was the beautiful Hamilton oak type cabinet under neath the paper. Sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph, it was like the termites thought they were bees, and living in a type case beehive. Gotta see it to believe it:

Termite Cabinet

Termite Cabinet

We literally had to get a wide flat shovel and shovel each case into a bucket. They were obliterated. Turned to dust. The type was encrusted with termite poop, I guess, or whatever they build their tunnels of. The cabinet beside it has some damage to the top, but the cases are unscathed, thank gods. I took a photo for comparison.

termites or no termites?

termites or no termites?

On the right: Termites. On the left: Sans Termites.

Once we shoveled out the cases (cry!), the empty hull of the stand reminded me of shipwrecks, or skeletons or something else eerie and desolate…

Ghost Cabinet

Ghost Cabinet

So, one cabinet destroyed, a lot of paper lost, but all in all, it was a small sacrifice from this huge collection. And now that its been taken care of, i can get to all the other stuff that needs attention.

Come out to LUSH on Armitage in Chicago Lincoln Park tomorrow night from 6:00 til 9:00 pm for an event I can’t remember the name of, but was asked to participate in last minute!!!

Apparently, businesses all along Armitage in Lincoln park are featuring local artists and artisans and Lock and Key Press will have its goods set up around the shop for sale! OMG!

There is another artist going to be there, as well as food from Karyn’s Raw Cafe, a raw foods restaurant here in town.

So spread it around! if you’re in Chicago and want something fun to kick off your Friday night, come get some delicious bath and beauty products and hand made letterpress prints!

Its been another lead and cast-iron filled coupla weeks in Chicago, and boy am i bushed. My computer was out of commission for a week because I spilled coffee on the keyboard. but I bought and installed a new keyboard, so its up and running! I lost a list of people who had purchased spacing from me, but I think I’m getting them all back so far.

Mr. Meers and I did a lot of cleaning. We had many appointments for purchasing some of the equipment, and made a few significant sales! We’ve got an offer on a large lot of his hot metal casting stuff, but I’m wondering if we’ll find any takers for the Linotype things. Seems people are giving it away for the hauling out of the basement. We can’t compete with that kind of pricing!

I’ve had some success with Briarpress.org, and with craigslist ads, which is good. Craigslist keeps things local and Briarpress helps me reach the right people. If I can keep up this pace, maybe we’ll actually make a decent dent in the piles and a few dollars for Mr. Meers!

I found some cool WW2 memorabilia that Mr. Meers had from being Prisoner of War. I set a big box of stuff aside for his family to go through and told them any letters or things from when Mr. Meers was in the Air Corp that they don’t want, I will take and give a good home. I’d hate to see it thrown away, but it seems like Mr. Meers daughter doesn’t want much pf anything by the way of heirlooms.

I even got a few more areas cleaned up in the print shop. The C&P, Mr. Meers favorite, is uncovered! Its dusty and needs a good cleaning, but its intact. The Heidelberg is uncovered to, and his daughter exclaimed, “I haven’t laid eyes on the Heidelberg in years!”. Which amazes me. There was so much paper and junk and boxes of random stuff piled on top of it you couldn’t see it and its probably about 2/3 the size of a VW Beetle original style!

I cleaned off another type cabinet full of shiny new never used type! Its a gorgeous steel front Hamilton cabinet, with a slant top for composing and a rack for leads and slugs. (I will put up some pictures in a bit, I gotta find the hose for the camera…)

So right now, I’m back in STL for a few days to love on my patient and understanding boyfriend, get a kitty fix and clean my house, and then Wednesday i’m off to Chicago again for a whole month to continue this project.

What Day is it Anyway?

November 2017
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