Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thank You Ladies of Letterpress!

As mentioned in my last post, I recently attended a workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book.  The workshop was focused on tabletop platen press maintenance - which, for me, as a newbie, is really important. It's sort of akin to playing a song on a badly tuned instrument. Even if you've learned the song, it won't sound good unless the instrument has been properly cared for. I am very grateful to the Ladies of Letterpress for allowing me to attend this workshop as a recipient of their 2013 scholarship!

The workshop was held in SFCB's new location on Rhode Island St., and what a beautiful space. I loved the way their old space was ink-splattered and lived-in and smelled vaguely of chemicals, but their new building has a sort of calm, cool, spacious vibe which allows them, importantly, to house more presses. There is room to print, offices, classrooms, a gallery, and a very long worktable - and all impeccably organized.

As luck would have it, the workshop was actually cancelled at the very last minute - so last minute that I was already onsite. But since my husband was at home with our baby, I had the freedom and time to enjoy the exhibition I last posted about.

The reschedule was the following week, and though the class size had grown in the meantime, another strange turn of events made it so the other four students couldn't attend. This time, however, both the instructor, Alan Hillesheim, and I were there, and so I had a private lesson. It was fantastic.

The center has 2 platen presses that are similar to mine, which we were able to use as references. The workshop covered how to level the platen on its four axis points, as well as how to advance the entire platen toward the press itself, the importance of taping the rails and when to do so, oiling the press, and general tips about packing and inking. As I was the only student, I was also able to ask specific questions about my press and other printing-related matters. Needless to say, in three hours we covered a lot of ground. 

A big thank you again to Jessica and Kseniya and the Ladies of Letterpress!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SFCB: Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here

In light of the tragic bombings in Boston this week, I thought I'd share an exhibition I saw last week when I attended a workshop at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here is a collection of 55 artist's books that were created in response to the March 5, 2007 bombing of Baghdad's "Street of Booksellers." Each artist created three copies of their book, one copy of which will be donated to the Iraq National Library.

Needless to say, each resulting book was as unique as its creator. The photo quality is sorely lacking, but here are a few quick pictures I snapped:

Some books that were open to artwork included text excerpts on separate pieces of paper, so that you could sample the poetry or writing within, such as this:
It's Spring 
by Loretta Cappanera
Italy, 2012 

It was a clear morning, the first day of Spring. In the little flower pot on the bedside table was a bunch of violets, the white sheets, the hands placed one next to the other, tied to a blue thread. Those hands had accompanied mine when sketching my first designs and tenderly followed my first readings. There always was a book in his hands, even after a tiresome day. I wished to bind those hands to mine.
The day before, there had been a big demonstration in Rome against the war in Iraq. The thousands of people present had tightly held another's hands around an extremely long flag, bearing the colors of the rainbow and the writing, "It's Springtime."

The exhibition is open to the public. Just walk into the SFCB at 375 Rhode Island St., between 16th and 17th. Viewing hours are Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm and Saturdays from 10am - 4pm.