July 22, 2008

Make hay while you can still hit the nail on the head.

Posted in books, letterpress, Typesetting, typography, web development at 3:29 am by India

Composing stick loaded with a few words

I spent most of last week TypeCon, where I took three classes and attended about half of the presentations. The highlights were, hands down, the day I spent making mudpies at Hal Leader’s aptly named Paradise Press and Erik Spiekermann’s obscenity-laced presentation on opening night (big, big crush).

Overall, I think this was my favorite TypeCon of the four I’ve been to, but few of the conference sessions I attended stand out, so mostly I must have liked it because of my trip to Paradise. Hal’s just such a sweet guy, and he’s so enthusiastic about letterpress, and I love the smell of inky machinery, and I love doing meditative handwork like picking letters out of trays and building them into lines of text. The best TypeCon ever? Would be spending four days just doing that. I’d probably need a wheelchair afterward, though—it killed my feet to stand all day, and the next morning I discovered that I had a major sore spot way deep in my left shoulder from holding a composing stick full of lead all day.

Newsflash: Lead is heavy.

The other classes I took were a basic FontLab class (that would be . . . my third?) and a class about Web typography in which I sort of learned to use sIFR. Both of those were with Adam Twardoch of FontLab, with whom I had a class last year, as well. Eventually the FontLab stuff will stick.

Another good thing is that I picked up two books about typesetting at the conference shop that look really excellent. I’ll let you know what I think of those when I’ve had time to paw through them. As always, I coveted Veer’s KE/RN jacket, but (a) it’s navy, which I have no use for, and (b) it’s expensive, so I should just make my own, in a color and style that I actually like. Maybe next year. Or maybe I’ll just bring my similarly designed DO/RK hoodie and leave it at that. My only typographic stunt apparel this year was my thought bubble earrings by Etsy seller borderlinebarbie, which were brought to my attention by the estimable Erin.

More details tk.


  1. Hah. Yes, setting lead type gives you a different variety of RSI :)

  2. […] but it would appear she’s been having a grand time. Today’s post at India, Ink., titled Make hay while you can still hit the nail on the head, treats of her adventures at this year’s TypeCon and features a link to a Flickr photoset […]

  3. Sheila Ryan said,

    “Meditative handwork.” Yes, indeed. Matting and framing and hanging. Sundry book arts and crafts. Either it’s one-sixteenth of an inch or it’s not. It’s level or it’s not. No unsettling ambiguities. I like that. I get enough of the ambiguities elsewhere.

  4. Mmm. I was given the KE RN jacket for my birthday this year.

  5. India said,

    I am envious, but I know I wouldn’t wear it if I had one, because I just don’t do navy. They really ought to make that jacket in brown, army green, or red. Because I said so.

    What I really want, anyway, is a mug with this cartoon on it. Spiekermann included the cartoon in his presentation, and although I’m pretty sure I’d seen it before (it got Dugg), I continued laughing about it all weekend. Because that is how I, too, roll, motherfucker.

  6. Maia said,

    I got nervous when I read the word “pie” in the context of letterpress! Glad to hear you had such a great time. Is there a place in NYC where you can go to set/print hot metal type? In Chicago, the Book & Paper Arts Center @ Columbia College allows anyone to use the facilities for a reasonable annual fee. It’s a great place to meditate and marinate in lovely ink fumes…

    Looking forward to your book reviews!

    Don’t know if anyone’s heard of this book. I picked up recently, not having seen it before:
    Twenty-two tips on typography by Enric Jardi

    It’s an easy read, because it’s broken up into one- to two-page essays with lots of illustrations and examples. I don’t think it would have a lot to teach experienced type folk, but it is fun. I’m thinking about assigning it in my typography class this fall.

    (Plus, it’s set in Swift, which I have grown fond of lately.)

  7. India said,

    Well, I just learned today (when they Flickr-friended me) that there’s a public access letterpress studio in Brooklyn called the Arm, and the guy who runs that has also been teaching a class at Cooper Union which sounds fabulous and is shockingly cheap.

    Besides the Arm, there’s the Center for Book Arts, Studio on the Square, and Make (at Sesame Letterpress).

    I Love Letterpress lists some more places around the country where you can get your ink on.

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