Monday, October 11, 2010

Typeface

I adore fonts.  I always have, even before I knew what a "font" was.  Even as a kid, I knew there was a difference in alphabet styles, and I could tell what certain fonts were supposed to evoke (like, "Broadway").
I think the love of fonts is inherent in kids - girls especially.  What little girl doesn't try out new fonts for her name?  (C'mon, I know you all added little hearts or flowers above the I or J in your name!)

One of the treats I got for my birthday is a wonderful documentary by Kartemquin Films called Typeface.  It's all about how wood type became popular, beginning in the 1830s and '40s.  A large part of the film focuses on the Hamilton Woodtype Museum, located only about 60 miles from me in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

The Hamilton Manufacturing Company first began in 1880 and its main product was wood type.  Soon it became the largest manufacturer of wood type in the US.  The company made wood type right up through 1985.  This just goes to show you how much our world has changed in the last 25 years due almost solely to computers.  The Hamilton Company is still open, but it now produces scientific equipment and has been bought and sold many times in the last 15 years or so (currently, it lives under the name Fisher Scientific in the newer part of this enormous plant).

I can't remember where online I first heard of the museum, but it wasn't locally!  I had NO idea this place existed until 3 years ago, when I heard about it on a blog or other site.  I couldn't believe that such a gem existed in my backyard!

In July of '07 Brian and I trekked up to Two Rivers and toured the museum.  We had the place to ourselves with our tour guide, who was a very knowledgeable man who used to work there himself.  I got that "I'm on crack"-feeling when I saw the drawers and drawers and entire walls covered in old wood type.  If you're a font junky, this place is your mecca.  In the movie they show a lot of young artists and graphic designers from Chicago make the trip up the lake (Two Rivers is right on Lake Michigan also) to witness the splendor; one of them stayed to run the museum!

It's so heartening to see that young artists are rediscovering wood type and the letterpress way of printing!  There is something about the look that you just can't replicate with an inkjet printer.  It's just more - real.  I realize the irony of me singing the praises of letterpress on my blog.  :D

I don't have a letterpress (I wish!), but I do have a collection of wood type from here and there.  I love using them like a regular rubber stamp in my artwork!

"Slice o' Pi" ATC



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"Eames Museum" ATC

2 comments:

  1. There are just so many interesting places to visit in Wisconsin. I'll have to add this to my list. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. I agree, Kim! I think we're very lucky to live where we do, and we forget sometimes just how great Wisconsin is. You'd LOVE this museum!

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