Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Essay: Book Arts at the International Printing Museum

Sometime early in my career, even though I didn't have any money, I forked over a couple hundred dollars to take an art class at the New School in New York City.

Even back then, I knew I'd missed my calling.

So I dove into printmaking, bookbinding, and other tactics of book arts, one time sewing an old sheet into a basket and sewing a mini fold-out book into it, creating something that was more sculpture than literature. Most of my class projects were like that, breaking all the rules of the craft, relying heavily on the arts aspect of making "books."

I made a few interesting pieces during the course of my work, but once the class was over, I abandoned the effort, getting distracted by any number of other things that New York City inflicts on its residents. But I've always had it in the back of my mind, often thinking of this blog as a work-in-progress book, out there in the cloud somewhere, maybe one day to be printed on a bedsheet or some other found object.

In the meantime, my interest in book arts was recently reignited when one of my readers went to the International Printing Museum in Carson, CA and brought me back a souvenir: a linotype slug that spelled out AVOIDING REGRET, now a prized possession, proudly on display on my coffee table.

I kept meaning to visit the museum myself, but every now and then, I get shy and don't want to go somewhere alone, as I'm often wont to do. I was afraid I was the only LA nerd interested in antique printing machinery and typography, but I put together an event anyway, just to see if anyone might come.



And they did!



There were fonts galore...



...drawers and drawers of them...



...and even one letter "M" that we got to see formed out of 500+ degree melted alloy poured into a mould, popped out, and then melted down again.



As a former newspaper woman myself, I loved seeing the galleys and the ink...



...though in my time, we were typesetting digitally, using computer programs like Pagemaker and Quark to lay out the pages.



There are so many individual letters...



...words...



...illustrations...



...and entire typeset plates...



...chronicling the entire history of printmaking...



...from woodtype to linotype, typewriter, and beyond.



Perhaps the highlight of the day – besides the camaraderie and affinity with my newly-found fellow printing aficionados – was the opportunity to get yet another linotype slug made at the museum's Book Arts Institute...



...this time with just my name.



I have this dream that I'll make a book there someday.

Maybe just an edition of one.

Just to have, not to sell.

Just a piece of art, that's all my own.

Related Posts:
EVENT: Books & Brews with Obscura Society LA
Photo Essay: Inside the Los Angeles Times, From Written to Printed