Stem and Stave

Wave runes shall you make
If you desire to ward
Your sail-steeds on the sound.
On the stem shall they be cut
And on the steering blade
And burn them on the oar.
No broad breaker will fall
Nor waves of blue,
And you will come safe from the sea,

- from the Saga of Volsungs

 :: Stem and Stave, Marianne Dages, 2013, letterpress print, polymer and type ::

:: detail ::

 :: detail ::

I Dreamt

"In my dream, I see these fantastic paintings that were done by
somebody else. And I wish that I had painted them. And I wake up, and
after a while the impression wears off. I say, wait a minute, those
are my paintings. I dreamt them; they're mine. Then I can't remember
what they were." - David Lynch

I've started working on a new artist's book that's been in my head for a long time. A book of dreams. Dreams I've told to other people or written down in notebooks. Some of these dreams are from my childhood, some very recent. 

I set a sample of text yesterday in 8 pt Garamond Italic from my type collection and printed it on Japanese style paper. Tiny and delicate. I like that. It's just the beginning. We'll see how it all turns out.

:: 8 pt Garamond Italic ::

 :: I dreamt... ::

Recent Acquisitions

Recent acquisitions from the used bookstore. A vintage issue of Exposure, the journal of the Society for Photographic Education. The theme of the issue is photo-offset printing and included a portfolio section.

 :: todd walker ::

 :: scott hyde ::

:: cover ::

A beautiful little bound copy of the Life of Tom Horn. Steve McQueen read the story of Tom Horn and felt a strong personal connection to Horn, a loner and one of the last of his kind in the disappearing Old West. His film Tom Horn is one of my favorites. 

I love the scale and feel of this book. I have been working on an edition myself and am now thinking I might downsize it to a more handheld size. 

 :: cover ::

 :: title page ::

New Year, New Projects

I have a new print available for sale now on my website, titled Small Fires. The composition is set using wood and metal type (no polymer plates). It's inspired by pictographs from arctic cultures.

This print is also a part of my design process for the new book I'm working on, which is about my personal mythology of the north, an idea I started back in the summer and mentioned here. I'm excited to finally be working on the design and writing of the book in earnest now, my sense of purpose renewed.

:: Small Fires, Letterpress, 2012 ::

 :: detail ::

 :: detail ::

Available here

What Is It?

At the Common Press, where I work, we were just given this press, but we're not quite sure what it is exactly... It was described to use as a plate press, and when I did a little research, I found similar looking presses that were called arming or embossing presses. If it is one of these, I'm wondering if there used to be some sort of heating mechanism and how it could be restored.

The only other clue here is that the maker's name is E. Ermold of New York. I did find some old printing trade publications that mentioned his name and that he sold embossing presses, but no images. 

If you know anything about how this press might work, I'd be interested to learn more. Thanks!

 :: new mystery press ::

:: E. Ermold ::

:: the steel base pulls out and has a broken wooden hinged frame ::

How to print ghosts.

I dreamt we were printing ghosts. The press was found in a forgotten room, silent and damp. It took two of us to start the old machine, turning and turning until momentum lifted the heavy wood handle from our hands. Hidden mechanisms slid over cool burnished stone and silhouettes curled upwards into the air like burning paper. Colorless sendings, their mouths open with surprise at their own animation. I saw them drift and break like bubbles.

There's a lot going on.

Oh my goodness, there's just so much going on right now, all good and exciting things too!

On April, 2nd I'll be at the Philadelphia Photo Art's Center for their second annual book fair, where I'll be selling my books alongside such awesome folks as Gottlund Verlag, David Graham, and much much more. I have a feeling I will be leaving with zero dollars, having spent all of it on other vendor's books.

Also, the schedule is out for the spring and summer letterpress workshops I'll be teaching at Red Wheel Press. Come for a 6 hr hands-on letterpress workshop— covering the basics of printing, typesetting (wood + metal type), Vandercook press maintenance, how to troubleshoot press + printing issues, inking, paper use + cleaning. For more info, and to sign up, go here.

The dates are:

Saturday, April 9th, 11-5

Saturday, May 7th, 11-5

Saturday, May 21, 11-5

Saturday, June 4th, 11-5

Saturday, June 25th, 11-5

So tell your friends, and hope to see you there!

:: Spring + Summer Letterpress Workshops ::

And I printed some baby shower invitations for a friend, who's having a sailor baby.

:: Ahoy! ::

Field Trip!

Last week, Mike and I decided to go to the Mercer Museum, a collection of pre-industrial revolution tools and objects, in Doylestown, PA. There are many things that make this museum a unique place, one being the building itself, which is best described as a spiraling, concrete castle.

It's also a charming time capsule of a long lost museum exhibition style. Each exhibit in its own little room, behind paned glass, with description...Is that peg board?

the wallpaper maker's room: handcarved wooden blocks

that tag says "obsolete objects circa 1991"

And there was a letterpress room! Complete with iron hand press, and lovely little cabinets.

Needless to say, we were filled with nerdy delight to see all these tools, Mike being a blacksmith, and I a fan of obsessive collections of obsolete objects (see Henry Ford). Great field trip day.

Anne Lemanski Business Cards

I recently finished these business cards for Anne Lemanski, sculptor and former resident artist at Penland. She is exhibiting this weekend at SOFA Chicago and needed a new set of business cards for the busy weekend. The text is all set by hand and the rabbit, a drawing of one of Anne's sculptures, is a polymer plate. Anne chose the colors, a deep rich red against a bright blue, and I looks great. One thing I love about doing custom work is that the client might pick something you never would have thought of and it opens up your palette to new possibilities. I printed them eight to a sheet, front and back, so I had to be very careful in my measurements and cutting. It all worked out. And I hope she has a great weekend at SOFA.