Thursday, January 31, 2008

type-high accompaniment

Here is the video accompaniment to the talk I gave earlier this evening at the Kelly Writers House on letterpress and wood type, and their roles in my project and in contemporary society.
I presented Matt Neff and The Kelly Writers House with copies of type-high, and had a third copy on display with the accompanying wood blocks.

The music is a clip from Four Tet - Look After Your Mermaid

Monday, January 21, 2008


*type-high*: Experiments in Typographic Ornament on Letterpress
by Robin McDowell - University of Pennsylvania School of Design (Fine Arts, 2008)

*type-high:* Experiments in Typographic Ornament on Letterpress, is a four month study of the production of new wood type designs in today’s digital era. Traditional milling methods were used to prepare cuts of end-grain hard maple to type-high thickness (.9186 inches, the height of press rollers). The blocks were engraved with a Universal Laser Systems X-660, a 60 watt CO2 laser cutter to create the original ornamental letterform designs in relief. These designs represented the names of friends and colleagues who influenced the course of the study. Hand-drawn sketches were scanned and translated into Adobe Illustrator files, readable by the laser cutter. The resulting blocks were shellac sealed and printed with acrylic inks on Arches Cover rag paper on a Vandercook Universal SP60 letterpress at the University of Pennsylvania’s Common Press. The broadsides and an accompanying narrative are housed in a custom made folio.

Laser Cutter Images here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Paper Shopping Spree!

Sibylla at the Van Pelt Rare Books & Manuscript Library is saving my life.
She recommended a place in NY to buy papers with which to create the custom folios for the "guts" of the project. It is called New York Central Art Supply, and has paper goods from around the world sorted by country, which is fabulous, I think.

She recommended a conservation paper from Japan called...
OSOKAWA OHBAN - handmade from 100% kozo in natural with fine visible fibers and flecks. Smooth surface; remarkably strong; 4 deckles. Neutral pH. - 22½" x 35¼" 40 gsm $14.00

Kozo, I learned, is "a variety of mulberry plants with exceptionally tough, strong fibers, which grow wild in Japan and the Far East. Its long threads do not shrink or expand. The climate where the kozo is grown and harvested has a great effect on the qualities that the resulting sheets will possess. More than half of Asia's paper is made from kozo."

I have also ordered some more paper samples from Mohawk Paper: 160 lb. cover stock in Candlelight and Mahogany. This is from the Beckett Concept series.

The plan for the folios is to make them in a contrasting color to white/natural on a SUPER heavy cardstock (heaver than the 130 lb. Mohawk used previously), and hinge the two side flaps using conservation paper in a natural shade. This will allow me to letterpress the title onto the frontmost flap without having to change the proportions of the book or remove the tympan on the Vandercook.