Wayzgoose 2011: Migration to Wood Type Mecca

[David Wolske] Two weekends ago (November 4–6), wood type, letterpress, typography and lettering enthusiasts converged in the small Wisconsin city of Two Rivers for the 3rd Annual Wayzgoose at the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum. With an impressive lineup of speakers and workshops, the sold-out event attracted type cognoscenti from around North America and as far away as Australia.

I arrived with my travel companions (Andy Rogers of Joslin Lake Design and Lauren Huber, my wife and Smart & Wiley partner) mid-afternoon on Friday, Nov. 4. As we walked around the museum, taking tons of pictures and admiring the exhibit of prints by the Tipoteca Italiana fondazione, we encountered Paul Shaw performing calligraphy on demand.

Paul Shaw writing Tuscan at my request

Tipoteca Italiana fondazione exhibit

One of hundreds of drawers containing patterns used to cut wood type

A font of Modified Gothic wood type on display

It was wonderfully surreal to mill about for a few hours chatting with design heroes (Paul Shaw! Matthew Carter! John Downer! David Shields!), amateur printers, accomplished academics and letterpress newbies. By the time the evening’s presentations began I was ready to listen and give my jaw a rest.

Hamilton Museum Director Jim Moran demonstrates wood type cutting.

Partially cut wood type blocks

Hamilton commemorative broadside, designed and printed by Paul Brown, Indiana University

Tracy Honn presented her research into the amateur press movement, a nationwide phenomenon of passionate publishers who used small, relatively affordable letterpresses to create 19th-century versions of ’zines and blogs. Judith Poirier brought us back to the 21st century at 24 frames per second. While Judith showed her experimental films and time-intensive creative process of printing directly onto 16- and 35-mm film stock, I found myself trying to retrieve my weary mandible from the floor.

Day two was full of action-packed workshops. And though the sessions looked like fun, I chose to observe and document. While Jim Sherraden and Brad Vetter introduced attendees to a day in the life of Hatch Show Print by way of Hamilton, Rick Griffith treated me to a case-by-case (type is stored in cases, not drawers) personal tour of his favorite cabinet of small wood type.

Jim Sherraden (foreground) and Brad Vetter (far left) demonstrate the Hatch method.

Linoleum and wood cuts from Hamilton’s Globe Collection

Rick Griffith loves small wood type.

David Shields pulls a print on Hamilton’s Washington Reliance.

I had a working lunch on Saturday with Scott Moore, proprietor of Moore Wood Type, a new wood type manufactory. Scott and his daughter Erin Beckloff have generously included me among their circle of advisors. Moore Wood Type is currently focused on producing catchwords, stars, circles and other ornamental devices from high quality end-grain maple.

Bill Jones of Virgin Wood Type

Saturday night I caught up with my Aldine Expanded collaborator, the talented Bill Jones. After dinner, Matthew Carter and Stan Nelson disputed the notion that technology affects letterform design. For an intoxicating nightcap, David Shields and Nick Sherman hosted a tipsy game of wood type trivia.

Dave Peat shows a specimen of a chromatic wood type.

Dave Peat’s engaging Sunday morning presentation, “Discursions of a Type Collector,” was followed by a lively and well-attended door prize giveaway. Peat very generously donated dozens of surplus type and printing related books, as well as fonts and sorts of metal and wood type.

A fast and furious print swap concluded the weekend. After many hugs, e-mail and business card exchanges, and lingering goodbyes, we bid adieu to the 2011 Wayzgoose, the Hamilton Museum, and Two Rivers, only to immediately begin planning our return in 2012.

David Wolske is co-founder (along with his wife, Lauren Huber) of Smart & Wiley and an award-winning graphic designer, typographer and artist. Smart & Wiley produces finely printed paper goods by combining traditional letterpress techniques with a contemporary approach to design and content. Their printing process incorporates hand-set wood and metal type, linoleum blocks and zinc cuts … all primarily from their own collection. Learn more about Smart & Wiley here.

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Comments (3)

  1. Posted by A Kuhntributor on 11.16.11 at 1:31 pm

    OH, WOW!, she exclaimed in chromatic wood type. Wolske’s Wayzgoose report is honkin’ fabulous. Ditto the photos. Thanks, David!

  2. Posted by Daniel Ibn Zayd on 11.20.11 at 7:27 am

    Truly awesome and inspiring; thanks!

  3. Posted by Steve Saxe on 12.20.11 at 12:08 pm

    Very interesting! I would have liked to have been there. By the way, David Shields is pulling the bar of a Hoe Washington iron hand press – it is NOT a Reliance.

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