We like to make things. it’s one of our shop mottos. On a daily basis we make things by pushing the limits of modern letterpress: using the photopolymer plates that we fabricate in-house to produce hairline strokes and the tiniest of type. In an effort to push our boundaries and break free from our routine (tiny type be damned), we recently decided that we were going to go big. Steamroller big.
Intrigued by the steamroller events we had seen pop-up around the country, we wondered what would happen if we incorporated such machinery into one of our notorious open houses. This was going to take more than just a sketch, we decided the only way to find out if we could pull this off was to actually rent a steamroller, take to the parking log, and run some shit over.
A design announcing our future print fair/open house (currently scheduled for the spring of 2015) was designed, sketched onto a sheet of plywood and turned into an oversized wood plate. A team effort, the plate was hand carved in just under a week using a dremmel and hand chisels.
Ever the historical nerds, we wanted to throw a nod to Gutenberg and the origins of letterpress by integrating moveable type into our parking lot shenanigans. Knowing we were going to run things over with a steamroller, this type was going to have to be big. Really big. In the end we had custom 19” tall letters CAD cut, adding the backer boards ourselves by hand. Creating the type was only half the battle, how would all this type sit on the asphalt? How would it all lock up? The final solution was building a massive, 16’ x 4,’ custom wooden base with rails, which would allow us to screw down the oversized letters and move the type on the fly.
Once the prep work was completed, we spent two days typesetting and inking in the parking lot of our northeast Minneapolis studio with two steamrollers (renting those is a whole other story). In addition to our hand carved plate, we printed several panagrams (sayings that include all the letters of the alphabet), really getting the most mileage out of our custom moveable type. Family and friends floated in and out, acting as extra hands when needed; the weekend wrapping up with us having the confidence that we can pull this off (or at least attempt it) in a public arena. We’re currently planning a print fair for the coming spring, we’ll loop you in when we have more details.
The prints from this test are on display in the gallery at the Hamilton Wood Type museum, where we’re also going to be teaching a workshop this weekend.
To top everything off our buddy Brendan Lauer came by and made this video for us as part of his 50 Videos/50 Weeks project. So rad.