Archive for April, 2012

I Have Trouble Finding the Words

April 3, 2012

Mary was sitting up in bed way too late … or was it way too early … it all runs together sometimes, when a vocabulary lesson broke out. Apparently, by not standing up, screaming “no, no, no!,” lighting myself on fire and running away down the street in the altogether, I had given my “tacit” approval to participate in a project.

By tacit, she meant that because I remained three-quarters asleep and unable to communicate my disapproval, my approval could be “assumed.” Like she had the “power of attorney” or something simply because Shop Boy was what in some states would be legally declared “comatose.”

Well, Shop Boy could huff and puff till he was blue in the face, but Mary had me by the dictionary.

(OK, that was a dirty little pun, but by making me do this with no advance notice and then by not watching Shop Boy’s every keystroke, Mary has tacitly given her permission for me to throw off the shackles of good taste and manners. And that’s enough of that.)

So here goes:

Andy Snair is a Baltimore illustrator and jolly good friend of Typecast Press. Inspired by wood type in our type cabinet one day, he asked if it’d be cool if he printed the letters and put charming or funny mugs on them, creating “Type Faces.” A, O and K by us!

Well, when Mary was asked recently to “sub-curate” an art show at a gallery called Case[werks] here in Baltimore, and bring along the work of artists we’ve been inspired by or loved collaborating with, Andy Snair was in. (Yup, there’d be Globe Poster stuff too, the old and the new that Mary and Bob Cicero have worked to get created as letterpress teachers at the Maryland Institute College of Art. And Glenn Dellon’s 2011 calendar — too good for that year, if you ask Shop Boy. Cool stuff, all. You’ll see.)

Andy’s an idea guy, so when Mary informed him a week before the show that he, too, had granted tacit approval for inclusion in the show (and all the last-minute work that this entailed), Shop Boy could just about see Andy’s brain gears start turning. Mary wanted him to mount the individual letter cards on wooden bases, then carefully paint the bases’ sides to match the colors we’d printed the letters. (He’d done a few a while back … they’re awesome. But the whole alphabet? In a week? The boy’s got a job.)

Unless he could come up with something better, of course.

We knew he would.

And so Shop Boy is here to tell you that a “reglet” is a very thin piece of hard wood used as spacing between images, letters or lines of type in a backward-reading “form” to be printed.

You need to know this because you have seen or will soon see Andy’s “word search” puzzle at Case[werks] — that’s him and part of it above — as well as the little sheet that Mary has printed for you to keep score on. (You weren’t just about to write on the actual art, were you?) If you can find them all, you get one of Andy’s letters for free! Anyway, on that score sheet, Mary had printed instructions on where to find more information about the words in the puzzle. (Ahem, on a blog that we’d need written by … oh, how’s your afternoon lookin’, Shop Boy?)

You’ve got “reglet” already, right? Oh, come on. I can’t tell you where it is. But I can tell you that it might read backwards, diagonally, vertically, or be staring you right straight in the face. Then again, all of Andy’s letters are doing that, aren’t they?

Shop Boy’ll give you a hint: A “quoin” is a metal device that expands with the turn of a quoin “key” to lock “type” and “reglets” in place. “Hamilton” is a famed old Wisconsin maker of wood type like the stuff that inspired Andy (a “Gothic” face) … and Globe Poster for that matter. A “Vandercook,” as you surely know, is a “proof” press, used back in the day to give a printer a chance to look for any errors on a “proof” of an individual page before the whole book or newspaper was transferred to the big press, whereupon finding an error would create hardship, heartbreak and significant cost (perhaps even one’s job). Nowadays, a Vandercook is the press of choice for book artists, designers, and poster printers who all relish the fine work it never got full credit for in its previous life.  The “tympan” is a coated paper that holds the packing in place and thus controls how much pressure is placed on the “form” to create the depth of the impression. The tympan is also famous for its annoying habit of getting in the way, picking up an unintended “ink” smear, and then — ooh! — marking the back of 15 or so sheets of paper before the printer realizes there’s a problem with “offset” (which we didn’t have room for in the puzzle).

Those are hints about what they are, not where they are in the puzzle. Hey, Shop Boy’s not going to find them for you. But you have my tacit approval to look as long as you like.