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Gaspereau Press in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

Gaspereau Press in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

Once again, this year’s Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose (or printer’s open house), which was held on October 20th, did not disappoint. My travel companions and I rose bright and early for the trip down to Kentville from Halifax so that we could participate in the first event of the day: a literary salon with Heather Jessup, author of The Lightning Field, and Carmine Starnino, author of Lazy Bastardism: Essays and Reviews on Contemporary Poetry.

The conversation during the salon was intriguing, but the most exciting part was at the end when Heather Jessup introduced herself and invited me to join her and a few other people (including Valerie Compton, author of Tide Road) for lunch. Heather recognized me from my recent Atlantic Writing Competition win. It was nice to chat with Heather and Valerie in an informal setting and get to know them as people rather than just as esteemed Atlantic Canadian authors.

After lunch we headed back to Gaspereau Press for the remainder of the Wayzgoose.The first thing I noticed when I walked into the publishing house was that everything had been rearranged since the previous Wayzgoose last October. This was done to accommodate the Goluska collection that Gaspereau Press received in the spring. When Glenn Goluska, a Montreal printer and a friend of Gaspereau Press’ Andrew Steeves, passed away, he left his collection of type and printing machinery to Gaspereau Press. Once Goluska’s collection is fully catalogued by the folks at Gaspereau, it will be integrated into their publishing operation.

Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose 2012: Only some of the type cabinets new to Gaspereau Press from the Goluska collection.

Only some of the type cabinets new to Gaspereau Press from the Goluska collection.

Inside of Gaspereau Press in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

Inside of Gaspereau Press in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose 2012: A tray of type.

A tray of type.

During the open house, in addition to having Gaspereau Press staff explain and demonstrate how they letterpress print the covers of their books, Wayzgoose visitors got to cast a line of type from hot lead, print it onto card stock, and make a small chapbook.

i like type: the lead slug I had cast at the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose.

i like type: the lead slug I had cast at the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose.

A 5x8 platen press at the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

A 5×8 platen press at the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

Our newly cast lines of lead type were then printed onto card stock with a 5×8 Platen Press. This press is only a little larger than my 3×5 Kelsey Excelsior Platen Press.

My chapbook that I printed and sewed at the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose.

My chapbook that I printed and sewed at the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose.

For instructions on how to make a chapbook please visit my blog post “Basic bookbinding: How to make a chapbook.”

Visitors also got to print a letterpress Wayzgoose keepsake. The linocut pictures made by David Bewer and printed with brown ink were pressed by the Gaspereau folks before the start of the event, but participants printed the green and red text (separately) on a Vandercook printing press.

Bliss Carmen Letterpress Print. Wayzgoose visitors got to print the text of this poster on a Vandercook Printing Press.

Bliss Carmen Letterpress Print. Wayzgoose visitors got to print the text of this poster on a Vandercook Printing Press.

David Carruthers from Saint-Armand Paper Makers, based in Montreal, Quebec, was also on site to give papermaking demonstrations and tips and tricks on how to make your own paper at home, something that I’ve been wanting to try my hand at for quite some time. Once David was finished with his demonstrations, he and I spoke for a while about papermaking and determining paper quality. He gave me some great advice on where to buy supplies and told me to email him if I encounter any problems along the way. It’s so great to speak with artists who are passionate about what they do and are excited to share their experience and knowledge.

David Carruthers from Saint-Armand Paper Makers giving a papermaking demonstration at the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose in Kentville, Nova Scotia..

David Carruthers from Saint-Armand Paper Makers giving a papermaking demonstration at the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose in Kentville, Nova Scotia.

Beating denim jeans into pulp for papermaking at the 2012 Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose.

Beating denim jeans into pulp for papermaking.

As David explained during his demonstration, paper can be made from a number of things. For example, he showed us how to make paper from old denim jeans. The jeans were first cut up into small squares and then placed with water into a Hollander beater in order to loosen the denim fibres and transform the jeans into a pulp.

A sink full of pulp and a papermaking mold at the 2012 Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose.

A sink full of pulp and a papermaking mold.

Once the jeans were beaten to a pulp — literally — the watery pulp was then dumped into a sink. David dipped the papermaking mold down into the water and then slowly raised it so that the pulp was evenly distributed across the mold.

Pulp placed in the papermaking mold at the 2012 Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose.

Pulp placed in the papermaking mold.

David then carefully flipped the mold over onto a piece of felt, which released the newly formed sheet of paper. The sheet of paper then stays on the felt until it dries. Each piece of wet paper is separated by a piece of felt to prevent sticking. Thicker paper is made by placing multiple sheets of paper on top of each other before laying the felt over top; when the paper is pressed each thin sheet will stick together to make a thicker sheet of paper.

Handmade paper laid out to dry at the 2012 Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose.

Handmade paper laid out to dry.

The paper is then pressed throughout the drying process. This removes the excess water and allows the paper to dry flat.

Gaspereau Press' Gary Dunfield pressing handmade paper with a large book press.

Gaspereau Press’ Gary Dunfield pressing handmade paper with a large book press.

Of course, even though I plan to start making some of my own paper for my printing and book-making projects, I wasn’t going to pass up on Gaspereau Press’ off-cut paper sale. I love the paper that Gaspereau uses for its books, so to me their off-cut paper sale is one of the highlights of going to the Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose. I also took home one of Gaspereau’s new, beautifully published books: Love & The Mess We’re In by Stephen Marche. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but it’s beautifully written and designed.

Although Gaspereau’s Wayzgoose continued on through the evening with readings by Heather Jessup and Carmine Starnino, and a paper-making presentation by David Carruthers, my friends and I decided to head back to Halifax around suppertime. It had been a wonderful day, but we were rather tired and didn’t want to get home too late.

That night I fell asleep wondering what next year’s Wayzgoose might hold, and about all of the beautiful books that Gaspereau Press will publish in the meantime. But they don’t just publish books at Gaspereau Press; rather, they create works of art.

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A drawer of moveable type in Kyle Durrie's Type TruckMoveable Type’s Kyle Durrie (see “Moveable Type: Why Kyle Durrie decided to take letterpress printing on the road“) was in Halifax September 22nd-25th, 2011. During her extended weekend here, she held artist talks and demos, and one workshop; I was lucky enough to get a space in her letterpress workshop and had an amazing learning experience.

To begin the workshop, Kyle introduced us to the various instruments required for printing with letterpress machines, and then workshop participants were invited to create and print their own small project such as a business card or calling card.

The first and most essential part of letterpress is the moveable type, which are the characters you one prints with: letters, designs, shapes, etc. The reason these characters are called moveable type is because they are individual pieces that are moved around to make words or designs. Type is available in lead or in wood. The majority of wood type that one finds today are antiques. Most of the type that is produced today is made with lead, but there are a few businesses in North America that focus on making old-fashioned wood type such as Virgin Wood Type Manufacturing Company in Rochester, New York.

Letterpress composing stickWhen working with small type, it is essential to have a composing stick, which is a metal holder in which to place your type. A composing stick allows you to place your type in sequence in without dropping or losing small pieces. The type is backwards and needs to be placed upside down in the composing stick.

Tweezers, as I learned, are also an essential tool when working with very small type. Composing your words and design can be very time-consuming, and it requires patience and a steady hand.

For spacing in between type, you need to use leading, which are plain lead blocks of various sizes that you can place in between letters, words, and shapes, etc., depending on your design to create spaces. These leading spacers are shorter than type so that they do not become inked.

Once you’ve prepared your type in the composing stick, you want to place your design on a flat surface in the centre of your printing press chase. The chase is the frame within which you can print according to the size of your printing press.

Letterpress quoins and keysOnce your design is finished, you need to fill the space between your design and the edge of the chase. For this you need to use wooden furniture, which are wooden spacing blocks that come in various sizes, and quoins, which are metal extendable blocks that, once moved with a key, will tighten and lock your design and furniture into place within the chase.

Before the quoins are tightened, it is a good idea to gently tap the type to make sure that each level with each other. If the type is not all level, the design will not be evenly printed. The reason this should be done gently and before the quoins are tightened is because lead is a very soft metal that can easily be damaged or nicked. Wood type is also subject to damage if it is not used with care.

An example of locking a chase with wooden furniture and quoinsOnce the quoins are tightened and the design is secure, lift the chase off the flat surface and check for shifting or movement by pressing against the design. If there is any movement then your chase is not tight enough and you need to make an adjustment after (once again) leveling your type.

If you are using a platen tabletop press (Kyle has a Golding Official #3 Platen Press from 1873), ink the press by scraping a small amount of ink in the shape of an ‘x’ onto the ink disk, which is the round platform at the top of the press. Then pull the handle to ink the rollers. Keep doing this for about one or two minutes because, as the handle is pulled, the ink disk turns in order to evenly distribute the ink. Once the ink has been evenly distributed on the rollers and on the ink disk, you are then ready to print.

When your chase is ready and your press is inked, place the chase into the the appropriate spot on the press. When using a platen press, make sure that the gauge pins (the small pieces that hold your paper in place) do not touch the design to avoid causing any damage to the type. Place your paper in the grippers and then pull the handle.

Kyle Durrie inking a design on her sign press. If you are printing with a tabletop sign press rather than a platen press, you need to place your chase on the press before you ink. You then ink your type with the desired colour by hand using a small paint roller. Sign presses allow the inking of multiple colours at the same time whereas a platen press only allows one colour to be printed at a time.

The first print you make is always a tester. If your design doesn’t print clearly or evenly then it is time to troubleshoot. Are the gauge pins touching the type at all when you press? Did you tap the chase lightly before tightening the quoins? Is your ink evenly distributed? Are you pulling on the handle hard enough? Is your design placed where you want it on the paper (if not, adjust where the gauge pins hold the paper). Once you made any necessary changes or adjustments and your design is printing to your satisfaction, then happy printing! The set up is the most time-consuming aspect of letterpress printing, but once everything is set up the printing itself is quite simple and quick.

Kyle’s Moveable Type workshop was both fun and educational, and working with the materials hands-on only solidified my love of letterpress printing. I would like to thank her for her instruction as well as her patience in answering all of my many questions.

This is what I made on Kyle’s Golding Official platen press during her workshop. I used lead type and black ink.

Printed on a Golding Official Platen Press in Kyle Durrie's Type Truck

For more information about Moveable Type or to see if she has a stop scheduled in a location near you, please visit her website.

Moveable Type Business CardMoveable Type Truck at Inkwell BoutiqueMoveable Type Truck at Inkwell BoutiqueSign Press in Kyle Durrie's Moveable Type TruckMe printing on a sign press in Kyle Durrie's Type Truck during a demo

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Moveable Type BoardKyle Durrie, the proprietor of Power and Light Press in Portland, Oregon, has always been in love with art. She studied drawing and printmaking at a college in Maine, and developed a fascination with open and empty spaces. But even though her drawings emphasized empty spaces, she felt stifled in the world of art galleries and showrooms; she found she had no inspiration left to draw once her drawings were out in the world.

That’s when Kyle decided to move to Oregon and begin fresh. While looking for work, she decided to occupy her mind by taking a letterpress class. Letterpress did more than occupy Kyle’s mind; it took root in her heart and she was in love. She decided she needed to learn more about letterpress and worked as an apprentice for a while in North Carolina and Maine. She then decided to move back to Portland, Oregon and being Power and Light Press in 2009. Power and Light Press focuses on custom jobs such as business cards, wedding invitations, posters, and broadsides.

Although Kyle loves the work she does at Power and Light Press, she still found that something was lacking — she was becoming too caught up with client relations and losing touch with the art she first fell in love with. She decided to recharge by taking a road trip with her partner’s band. Not only did she feel inspired by the beautiful landscapes she drove past, but she felt inspired by the band she was with, and bands in general — how they share their music, meet people, and connect. “How can I make this work for me,” she thought. That’s when she came up with the idea for her Moveable Type Project.

When Kyle got home, she did some research on letterpress and found out that there was a historical precedence for travelling presses. As early as the 15th century, apprentices would travel around Europe with master printers to learn and develop their craft. And even in the 1950s and 60s Vandercook Press developed mobile print shops.

Vandercook Mobile PressThe only thing holding Kyle back at this point was money. She knew it would take a lot of funds to be able to convert a van into mobile print shop. She decided to try Kickstarter.com, which is a fundraising platform where an artist, designer, filmmaker, musician, inventor, etc., makes a video pitch, stating the purpose of the project, the financial goal and a proposed timeline, and if there are any rewards offered for donations. Kyle liked the idea of Kickstarter because she felt it was a much more grass-roots, community-driven way to fundraise than to apply for government arts funding.

Moveable Type: Inside of Kyle Durrie's "Type Truck"Kyle didn’t expect the response she received. Her pitch was hugely successful and she raised more money than expected, allowing her to go through with her project sooner rather than later. Through Kickstarter she was also able to start planning her tour because people emailed her with ideas on places to visit.

Kyle found her “Type Truck” on her local CraigsList. It was initially a delivery van, but the previous owner had essentially turned it into a recreational vehicle. He filled in the back delivery door and installed a bathroom and kitchen, but in order to make a useable workspace, Kyle had to rip everything out except for the metal framing for the kitchen cabinets. She cut windows in the sides of the truck and vents on the top. She then had a carpenter come in to build cabinets and drawers for her type and supplies and to make the truck a livable, workable space. The Type Truck holds two small presses: a Golding Official #3 Platen Press from 1873 and a tabletop Sign Press that was initially used by Sears to create store advertisements c. 1960.

Moveable Type: Kyle Durrie's "Type Truck" sitting outside of Inkwell Letterpress Boutique on Market Street in HalifaxKyle has been travelling in her Type Truck since mid-June. She visits schools, libraries, community centres, publishers, letterpress shops, farmers’ markets, craft shows, and so forth. One of the many things that Kyle loves about letterpress is that it can be approached from so many different angles such as art, design, literary, and historical standpoints.

A map inside the "Type Truck" marking all of the places where Kyle Durrie has been with Moveable TypeKyle’s Moveable Type Truck is approximately 30 years old so it has had some issues on the road. In the three months she’s been on the road, she’s had four flat/blown tires and had to replace the front two; her tire problems have always happened after 5:00 p.m. when auto repair shops are typically closed. She’s run out of gas after dark in the middle of nowhere. And just as her truck has broken down, she’s broken down out of frustration, doubt, and fear. But, all the same, she finds a kind of comfort in travelling alone in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception.

At this time in her schedule, Halifax was the only Canadian stop for Kyle. She plans to continue travelling in the U.S. for approximately another six months (perhaps until early April 2012). Kyle currently has an intern filling orders for Power and Light Press back in Oregon, but she isn’t yet sure what she’s going to do after she gets back home. But, no matter — she’s okay with not knowing what the future holds for her. Kyle lives in the present, and right now she’s enjoying sharing her art, teaching letterpress to the curious, and instilling the craft that she loves into others.


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Kyle Durrie's Moveable Type TruckMoveable type (moveable pieces of individual type used in letterpress printing) is on the move — in a truck, that is. Kyle Durrie, the owner of Power and Light Press in Portland, Oregon, has decided to take her letterpress printing passion on the road. “Moveable Type,” the name of Durrie’s project, involves a “1982 Chevy step van and a few thousand pounds of lead, wood, iron, and love.” Durrie explains how she converted her Chevy van “into a fully functional letterpress print shop. I’ve outfitted the back of the truck with built-in cabinets and workspace, a sign press from the mid 20th century, and an 1873 Golding Official No. 3 tabletop platen press.” Her mission is to travel across North America, demo, and teach letterpress workshops. Her tour began in June 2011, and will continue until early spring 2012 (if not longer).

Durrie further explains her Moveable Type project in the video below:

Check out Moveable Type’s website for more information or to arrange a visit. If all goes as scheduled, Durrie will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia from September 23rd through 25th, 2011. For stop and schedule details, check out Moveable Type’s Tour Dates. Dates are, of course, subject to change depending on weather and van conditions (so check her schedule often if you don’t want to miss her).

You can follow Kyle Durrie on Twitter. Power and Light Press is also on Facebook.

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Ryerson University in Toronto, OntarioI finally enrolled in my first publishing course at Ryerson University (located in Toronto, Ontario). I am officially now a student of publishing! I’m very excited about this because taking a publishing program is something I’ve thought about doing for years. After researching the programs at Simon Fraser and Humber College, I decided on Ryerson’s Certificate of Publishing program because it gives me the flexibility of completing the program part-time and through distance education. The Ryerson program also offers courses on “Publishing in the Electronic Age” and “Publishing in Transition” — two subjects that are important to learn in the changing publishing industry.

Since I’ll be living in Halifax, Nova Scotia and working full-time, my current plan is to take one 42-hour course (or two 21-hour electives) each semester. The first course I am taking is titled “Publishing Overview: Trade.” My class begins on September 10th. I, of course, will be blogging about my experiences. Feel free to comment with suggestions, stories, and/or advice. I’d love to hear about your own experiences (good or bad) regarding the program, the courses, and/or how taking a publishing program (at Ryerson or elsewhere) has helped or hindered your career in the industry.

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