Posts Tagged ‘Chris Hartlove’

Give Us a Sign

June 24, 2016

Mary’s been so busy making signs for other people’s businesses that she’s never gotten around to making a real one for Typecast. I mean, isn’t that what makes you a real, legitimate business? Instead of, “Oh, just go knock on those green double doors.”

Don’t get Shop Boy wrong here. Mary’s work has kept the lights on at the print shop (and at home, where she works through the night on the proper kerning of eight-foot letters, the proper blink rate of an ice cream arrow and such).

a_ice cream

Our sign didn’t need to be anything flashy, just something that creates a feeling of permanence, if there ever were such a thing. Shop Boy ponders the question a lot: How long will we be doing this printing thing? Not to get all existential or anything, but Shop Boy left the “boy” section of life behind several decades ago. (I did have to outrun a mugger a few days ago, so it’s not all gone yet.) Wouldn’t it be fun some day to be that little old dude outside a print shop grinning by a sign that reads “established 1843” or whatever?

The inside of the shop will still scream “established by a 9-year-old princess,” but there you go.


There’s a little plaque we had made a number of years back that announces Typecast as “The Old Printer’s Home and Museum of Mostly Useless Antiquities.” It’s a right-reading, copper-on-wood plate that we had made when we were roommates with Chris Hartlove, back when he was a photographer who actually used film negatives (and a darkroom … imagine!). It’s fun, but it’s not really a “sign sign.” We’ve had the letter magnets you can see on this blog’s homepage, but they get all crooked every time someone, ahem, slams the door.

Anyway, while Mary’s been behind the visual renaissance of Belvedere Square Market, the sign announcing The Dabney (a new DC eatery), ridiculously cool and gone-too-soon sign painting at Shoo-fly Diner (permanence? yikes) and more at the thriving Parts & Labor, Shop Boy has wondered what it’d be like to have an external sign—again, just a little one—announcing our presence to the general public. Well, our recent move to a new shop, Mary’s completion of her assignments (hah!) and the fate that would land us next door to a sign maker removed all excuses.

And there we are.



Letterpress List No. 49: Bats in the Belfry

August 25, 2008

Our roommate walked in and screamed.

Not to worry. He does this whenever we accidentally leave the overhead fluorescent lights on in the part of the studio space that we share and which serves as the Typecast Press/Chris Hartlove Lounge. The screaming’s partly in fun, partly to send an unsubtle reminder that he’d prefer the room a bit dimmer. He’s a photographer with eyes that are keenly sensitive to light. But we need to work in that space — maybe just to get a better look at a color match — sometimes, too.

“OK, we get it. Sorry,” Mary will say, hitting the light switch, and Chris will say his hellos and retire to his darkroom turned office, which, naturally, features low lighting.

Mary loves her spaces bright. She’s a lamp nut. Our main studio has lights that hang from the ceiling, two small table lamps, “light box art” (an architectural photo printed on acetate and mounted on a long, vertically hung, fluorescent light fixture), a bank of spotlights above the C&P 8×12 and plans for more, more, more.

Shop Boy, like Chris, can see in the dark. Mary? She sees freaks.

“Bats! I’m surrounded by bats!”

True story: Mary and Shop Boy were enjoying the end of a sunset in our Denver back yard when we heard an odd sound. We looked along the roofline of our cute little bungalow for the source, agreeing that it seemed to be coming from the chimney. Before Shop Boy could even shift into denial mode — weird sounds mean home repairs … not my, um, thing — a little black object flew past our heads.

“Bird,” Shop Boy said.

“You sure?” Mary asked.

“Sure,” Shop Boy lied, as another bat took to the skies. “OK, maybe not.”

Within minutes, it was fairly obvious that we did not merely have bats in the chimney. We had ourselves a rookery. We ducked inside, away from the swarm, and immediately began debating a course of action.

Smoke ’em out? Nope, we were told: “They’ll come right through the wall, into the house.”

Poison? Forget it. Think of the stink of a chimney full of little corpses! Plus, bats are good to have around, eating their weight in mosquitoes and the like. You just don’t want them inside your cave, you know?

Mary went on the hunt for a humane exterminator, finding, as luck would have it, a young gentleman so handsome that his girlfriend followed him from job to job to dissuade his sharing of more than a gander at that buff body with his customers. The girlfriend didn’t know from bats, but she knew from human nature.

Hercules’ plan? Get most of the bats out — by hand! — then build a cage around the chimney that would let any stragglers out that night but wouldn’t let them back in. And up the ladder he went. In his bare hand would go, out a sleepy bat would come. Tossed one by one into the air, they flew desperately for cover from the midday sun. (Shop Boy wore wraparound sunglasses pretty much full time in Denver. Yeow.) One bat was so disoriented at suddenly being airborne that it flew sideways … right at the girlfriend, who squealed and tumbled heels over head with a loud crash into the thin metal doors of our little storage shed.

And when the eviction papers had been fully served, the exterminator dude placed the cage on the chimney — and another over a spot at the roofline that looked suspiciously like a place where homeless bats could roost. And that was that.


Mary (later that night): “Do you hear something?”

Shop Boy: “Nope. Probably just the wind.”

Mary (the next morning): “What are all these little holes in the screens?”

Shop Boy: “Them? Uh, those have been there a while.”

I’d pay for my denial.

One day, Mary was chatting with a visitor who’d also dealt with a bat infestation. “Oh, it was horrible,” the friend said. “For several nights, we’d hear them tearing at the screens, trying to get in every window.”

And a little light went on.

Had to run and get my shades to protect me from Mary’s glare.


Letterpress List No. 49

Hey, how about an hour’s worth of music to pick live bats from a chimney by or simply to dull the pain of that light-induced migraine? Most of these tunes should be available in the usual places. Goofy and great video links are to YouTube.

Bats in the BelfrySmokescreen (“I think they’re coming from the neighbor’s chimney.”)
When You Wish Upon a StarGene Simmons (This is known as denial.)
Seen the LightSupergrass (Not that Shop Boy or Chris needed it.)
CreepTLC (Dude’s chances of catting around? Exterminated.)
Bright Light FrightAerosmith (Denver’s 5,280 feet closer to the sun. Feels it.)
Bat Out of HellMeat Loaf (A rude awakening.)
Falling or FlyingGrace Potter & the Nocturnals (Falling … for Grace.)
Learn to FlyFoo Fighters (Up and away.)
Limelight Rush (Mary hates this band … maybe more than flying rodents.)
Coming HomeScorpions (Sorry, not tonight, my little friends.)
Over the MountainOzzy Osbourne (Dude’s batty.)
Fell on Black DaysSoundgarden (Again, not in Colorado.)
Mosquito SongQueens of the Stone Age (Go get ’em.)
The Midnight Special Creedence Clearwater Revival (Shine an ever-lovin’ light on me.)
Who Can It Be Now?Men at Work (Just the wind.)
You Want In, I Want OutJoan Jett (Black-hearted little monsters.)
Screaming for VengeanceJudas Priest (They wanted in.)
Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)Pat Travers Band (Just love the song.)
Overture to Die Fledermaus Johann Strauss II (“The Bat” … get it? Shop Boy is sooooo cultured.)

Roomie With a View

April 4, 2008

Is that a Miehle vertical in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Now Shop Boy has known a few thieves in his life, but only one person who could probably hide a printing press in his jacket. That would be John, a bright, streetwise smart aleck and my college roommate during our freshman and sophomore years. Funny dude. But we couldn’t go anywhere without him, um, snatching a souvenir. Health club? “I’m gonna ice me a racquet, Jack!” When Shop Boy protested, John would flash the special hand signal: “Don’t be a big (wimp).”

One day, John strutted out of a sporting goods store in his baby blue velour track suit with the handle of a purloined racquetball racket sticking out of his pants — the tag dangling over his butt, swear to god — and nobody batted an eye. When it comes to stealing, some people just “have it.”

After two years, though, Shop Boy’d “had it.” Oh, I don’t know. The rubbing alcohol-fueled bonfire in our room one night might have been the clincher on that deal. But I switched majors … and dorms. With no one left to torment, John dropped out of college shortly afterward.

And Shop Boy went to the opposite extreme: Kevin, for whom Shop Boy would be a bit of a drain. He preferred jogging and studying to a cold beer before the first class of the morning. Pop-Tarts and a brewski? Not Kevin: Orange juice and an open book.

He thus graduated early, leaving my side of the suite open to the freshman little brother — they hated each other, but mom insisted — of the guy who played electric guitar so badly next door. “Heartbreaker” by Led Zeppelin. Six months of it. Oh man. Guy was no Jimmy Page. More Beavis and Butt-head:

Da … da … da … dadada … dadadadada … da … dadada …

See what Mary missed?

Mary didn’t have a roommate in college. Shop Boy was — gasp! — her first roommate other than her younger sister. But between four older sisters (five total) and the aforementioned roommates, I’d been house trained by then.

So Mary has barely an inkling of what a cool roommate Chris Hartlove is. Our photographer suitemate is the guy who opened his doors to our first little 1,200-pound bundle of joy. Who sacrificed half of his space so Typecast Press could be born. Who has let us monopolize his studio with our spillover during the many rehab projects. Who has now offered more of his space for stray letterpress stuff and to let our idea for a lounge(!) move forward. And who, fyi, would be all over the Pop-Tarts and brewski for breakfast idea.

But even snug in the cubbyhole that used to be his darkroom, with a dedicated work table his only demand for the rest of his studio, Chris has boundaries. On the day the Heidelberg windmill showed up, he looked at Shop Boy. “That’s your last press, right?” Chris asked, adding sternly: “I ain’t leaving.”

Point taken.

Mary: “I don’t know why Chris feels like we’re trying to crowd him out.”

I mean, she even bought him a Typecast Press lab coat so he’d feel like part of the team.

And she was really taken aback when, as we returned from a trip to Virginia to look over yet another press, Chris greeted us with: “OK, how big is this one?”

Shop Boy patted him on the shoulder and reassured him. “It’s OK, we got outbid.”

“I ain’t leaving,” he said.

Shop Boy got him a beer and decided he should tell Mary about a couple of guys he once knew …

And to lay in some Pop-Tarts.