Archive for February, 2010

Games Over

February 23, 2010

With all eyes on Vancouver, it might have been easy to overlook an equally significant development in Baltimore:  the Typecast Press 2010 Sick-of-Winter Games.

There were thrills and, oh, yeah, there were spills. Let’s get right to the winners and losers. Starting with everyone’s favorite winter printshop event:

  • CURLING — Involves getting dried-out and warped polymer plates to lay down flat and stick to the Boxcar base so the edges won’t catch the rollers and transfer ink to the wrong part of the paper, ruining the job. This one was no contest.

Mary — Gold medal (Scissors, X-acto, Press Wash Division)

Shop Boy — Disqualified for using too much tape, sloppily applied, which of course got gunked up with dried ink, peeled up, became type high and worsened the problem.

  • SKELETON — In which participants tear open a printing press’s guts going after a phantom squeak with a can of oil.

Mary — Bronze (Sure, it was a Olympian effort, but one judge — OK, it was me — gave her exceptionally low marks for failing to execute a compulsory maneuver: leaving well enough alone. It’s Shop Boy’s signature move, and one he’s performed flawlessly for years, which had made him the heavy favorite in the eyes of Las Vegas oddsmakers and the vast majority of gamblers on the eve of the Games.)

Shop Boy — Disqualified when he runs screaming from the room (in the opposite direction of Mary and Las Vegas).

  • FIGURE SKATING — Contestants attempt to lock up what’s in the  bed of a Vandercook (a big wooden 8, say) so nothing shimmies or “skates” around in the slightest.

Mary: Gold. In what can only be described as an upset, Mary unveils the House of Cards trick, a dazzling display of derring do that  produces a rickety stack of sticks that somehow holds. Fellow Baltimorean and event favorite Otto Mergenthaler drops dead at the sight, leaving Mary alone at the finish.

Shop Boy: Disqualified (whimpering in the corner).

  • MOGULS — Contestants beat the bushes for enough steady work to keep them in expensive cotton paper, rusted, TLC-needy hulks of metal and perhaps, ahem, gin and tonics. Shop Gets off to a wicked start, blogging his heart out and sharing the follies of his labor to any and all who will read or listen, all in the name of getting the Typecast Press brand out there.

Mary: Gold. As the brains of the operation, she takes a more responsible approach, slowly building the business into a success, keeping Shop Boy out of the public eye by never letting him leave the shop.

Shop Boy: Disqualified for lack of blogging as he distractedly, and hopelessly, tries to prepare for the final event of the 2010 Typecast Press Sick-of-Winter Games:

  • DOWNHILL — An endurance event in which one late night leads to a late start the next day, leading to a later night, leading to an earlier start to make up time, and so on and so on and so on … 2:30 a.m. … 3:15 a.m. … 4:30 a.m.!

Mary: Gold. She wins in a walk when Shop Boy no longer can.

Shop Boy: Disqualified. His Olympic dream ends with a slow-motion pan over a prone body face down  on a cot.

Starting Something

February 9, 2010

Come on … haven’t you ever wanted to know what it feels like to work with the mega-stars of this letterpress blog of ours? I mean, real face time? Printing your own stuff on a Vandercook press in a lovely setting? Learning a little about the history of printing and a lot about the oddities of starting a business whose technology peaked, like, 50 years ago? And getting the chance to maybe observe a Shop Boy “adventure” up close?

You sure have! Am I right, or am I right?

Well, you have come to the right place.

Yes, folks, if you order right now, you can be one of eight exceptionally fortunate people to be instructed by Mary in the first-ever, inaugural and even never-been-done-before Typecast Press letterpress class.


I mean, think of the collector’s items you’ll take away. And the bragging rights over being the first to take the class. Wow!

Mary, who you know teaches at the mighty Maryland Institute College of Art, has got the Vandercook presses primed and ready. Shop Boy has painted, vacuumed, stood atop a tall ladder and stretched up with a duster to, gulp, clean the ceiling fans, for heaven’s sake. (I’m never, ever doing that again, FYI, so the classroom environment will never be this dust-free again. Just saying.)

We’ve even hung up art and shelves in the new space, just for you.

And all you’ve got to do is show up. Heck, we’re even throwing in lunch.

Think about that for a minute. Fill up a boring February Saturday (2/20) with the love of letterpress.

Short notice? Sure.

But it’s short notice for us, too.

Shop Boy? Oh, I’ll be there. Signing autographs, posing for photos, that kind of thing. OK, I’ll mostly be trying not to do anything too dopey with all these witnesses around.

Seriously, I’ll be helping out with a joke here, or a little encouragement there, a floor demo over there — you know me — while Mary does the hard stuff.

Really, this should be fun. We’re going to do another, different workshop in March with our bookmaking friend BethAnne Garcia — ask her for a tip on the third race at Pimlico.

Kidding. We’ll teach you how to use the Vandercooks, she’ll teach you how to turn what you’ve printed into a keepsake book. She taught us, she can teach anybody. Registration for that’s on the form I linked to above as well.

Makes a great last-minute Valentine’s Day gift, if you, um, get me.

So, deal? Thought so. See everybody there.