Porchlight evening at the Levi’s Workshops: Telling stories about work

[Alyson Kuhn] What is the best job you ever had? What is the worst? Oh, it’s your current job? Want to tell us about it? At the Levi’s Workshops in San Francisco on August 12, that’s exactly what the Porchlight storytellers did. I was there, so now I can tell you. Laughter inducing, thought provoking and limited-edition keepsake-book inspiring!

The Levi’s Workshops community-building campaign just celebrated its six-week anniversary in San Francisco’s Mission District. (If you missed our July report on this incredible print shop and its indefatigable printers, it’s right here.) Porchlight: A Storytelling Series just celebrated its eight-year anniversary. Porchlight’s recent collaboration with Levi’s Workshops led to a lively unscripted program and a lovely letterpress-printed book, recording on paper (Mohawk Feltmark, as it happens) for the first time a quintet of stories about work.

A story about work that is not in the book … is the story of the making of the book. You can read all about it on the Levi’s Workshops blog. Letterpress printer Annemarie Munn masterminded the book’s design and production. She also did two of the five illustrations, and had printed her fingers almost to the bone … when she realized how tricky trimming the press sheets would be. When you’re in this particular bind, it does indeed take a village. Scoring the True Blue covers (yes, that’s the paper’s real name — it’s Mohawk Loop Premium Linen 80c.) became a bit like a quilting bee. Did the end result, ahem, justify the jeans? See for yourself!

What about the stories? Ten incredibly engaging unscripted minutes each. Read Drew Toal’s excellent post on the stories and the event on the Workshops blog. My single favorite storytelling moment involved Marc Capelle’s German accent as he described deciding to drive 200 kilometers per hour on the autobahn.

But wait, there’s galore. Adam Katz, Workshops programming director, presented me with a copy of Where is the art in a garden? The little eight-fold book was fresh off the letterpress, printed just two days earlier on denim paper handmade by Edible Schoolyard students, who also set their own names in metal type. Look at their work from the Workshops!

Speaking of denim, there’s still more. Check out the worktote above, created especially for the Levi’s Workshops by Aylin Beyce. Read about her inspiration, her process, her grommets right here. The Levi’s Workshops will be in full swing (or, as we say in the trade, crankin’) through Saturday, August 28. If you can arrange your life to be anywhere near 580 Valencia Street before the Workshops folds its tent (and strikes out for New York City!), it’s well worth a detour. Even when there’s not a specific event, there’s energy in the air, wondrous work on the wall, and loot partout. And at the very end of the month, Felt & Wire will feature a Levi’s Workshops wrap-up, an almost real-time retrospective of projects printed at the Workshops during this San Francisco Summer of Print Love.

Alyson Kuhn asks you to admire her new limited-edition Levi’s tote, installed in her trunk for the road trip to TypeCon 2010. Hard work, but someone gets to do it! Alyson is going to try to tweet from TypeCon. Hold on to your exclamation points!

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