Do you know about Printer’s Ball? It’s a once a year celebration in Chicago of literary culture and the arts that surround it, including writing, performance and printing. We were invited to come and print in the parking lot at the Hubbard Street Lofts this year to give folks something fun to do as they wander into the building to check out the fabulous line up of presenters and installations.
We also got to hang out with a number of our friends! Outside with us was Rebecca from Rar Rar Press, who just finished printing this postcard with a quote from her granddad.
Inside, we found Uncle Brad, a good friend and incredible letterpress printer. Jo is a big fan and has already started her collection of his work.
Here are Maria and Dan, wonderful Starshaped clients that we had the fortune to work with this Spring on wedding invitations (barely a month in and they’re still happy to be married!).
We printed nonstop for about 2 hours until we were out of paper. Much longer than we anticipated, but people were excited! And we got inside just in time for one of the summer flash storms that Chicago is prone to having. The crafty Printer’s Ball staff just walked their tent toward the building and back out again when the sun broke. Overall, a great night for printing on the bike!
Winter makes for a slow time for printing opportunities on the bike, and this past one was particularly rough. So it was a pleasure to accept an invitation to set up a press at the City of Broad Shoulders event that corresponded to RailsConf in Chicago this past April. It seemed like a good time to put together another small press so that attendees could make two color prints. That’s right, we’re movin’ on up!
Given that the event attracted people from around the country, we went with our Chicago theme again and this time were able to create mini flags. The two colors worked great!
For about 2 hours, Jo showed guests how to print. It was definitely one of the most enthusiastic crowds we’ve ever encountered, proving that adults love printing as much as kids!
The special treat for Jo was ending the evening with a visit to Jana of Doodlebooth fame. LOVE her illustration of Jo in her apron.
The weather is finally agreeable, and we’ll be out and about on the bike more often. Next up is a trip to Printers Ball at Spudnik Press. More on that soon…
The Renegade Craft Fair is both our favorite and largest event outside of the studio every year and we were pleased to be invited back to share the Press Bike with shoppers and their little ones. Our convenient spot at Booth No. 1 worked great as we caught the eye of everyone entering the Fair from the west end of the street.
The Friday before Renegade is always a whirlwind of late night preparation and packing and this year was no exception. Luckily, our former intern, Lindsay, came out for the weekend to help. And to everyone’s delight, Jo was able to run the Vandercook herself and put together her own print for the show.
Here’s a shot of our booth this year:
We opted for using our little Chicago stars (coined ‘Jo Stars’) that we commissioned from Moore Wood Type, because everyone that loves Chicago loves those stars.
Our first customer of the day!
We started with a more kid-friendly acrylic ink, which turned out to be a bad idea. As you can see from the brayer, it was very sticky and dried way too fast given the heat of the day. Sunday we brought a rubber based ink that worked great and went on smooth.
And see who’s eyeballing the bike in the corner there? None other than Brad Vetter, printmaker extraordinaire. He’s wishing he could make such great prints!
Jo was again asked for autographs on the prints she pulled. “It’s like being a celebrity” she commented.
Sunday we started out early with Jo meeting her friend Ella to sell their prints to our vendor friends. Next year little Coco will be joining them! Ella has learned her trade of screenprinting from her dad. We’re thinking next year they should all have their own booth.
Then it was back to printing!
Look who came by to check out the action. It’s our favorite kids photographer, Jookie Jill!
The press bike really took a beating; not more than 20 minutes went by without someone coming up to print, and we ran out of paper by 6 o’clock each day. While out shopping with Jo, Lindsay witnessed folks putting their own clothes on the stars to print them, as well as arms. Wish we had some documentation of that!
Three years ago we bought our Madsen cargo bike with the profits of that year’s summer Renegade Craft Fair, and we’ve had so many great adventures since then. Commuting by day, printing by weekend, it’s been a real workhorse! We hope to keep up the fun at next year’s Fair. Thanks to everyone who made this our best Press Bike event yet.
Yay, it’s time for the Renegade Craft Fair! This is one of our favorite events of the year, and the Press Bike will be set up all weekend. Jo will be around for a good chunk of it, showing kids and adults how to pull prints on the new press. Come on by and check it out; we’re easy to find this year in Booth Number 1, right at Division and Damen.
Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th, 11am – 7pm
on Division between Damen and Paulina
Jo and I were asked to run workshops at the annual Western New York Book Arts Center Book Fest, which sure sounded like a lot of fun, given that most of our family is in the Buffalo area. While the grown ups were off making prints with a steamroller (read more about it here), Jo set up her new little press outside and enjoyed a little celebrity.
Many kids came through in the morning and gave the little press a shot. It’s so easy that the prints were successful and fun! And given our location, we found the appropriate type amongst the vast collection at WNYBAC.
Did we say kids? Because grown ups tried it, too.
Jo’s cousin Adam came down for a while and he had a blast making prints, too.
Jo (and all the kids and grown ups) had a chance to try her hand at making paper as well, which she loved.
Book Fest was a success! If only we could have ridden the bike there… 674 miles is a long way to go. Thanks to WNYBAC for having us!
We’re thrilled to be back up and running with the press bike this summer! The wonderful Lisa of Paperish Mess asked if we could come be a part of their booth at West Fest. If you live in Chicago and haven’t been by the store, then definitely check it out. Lisa and Sean make a concerted effort to be a part of their community and stock wonderful and fresh work by local artisans, including Starshaped Press.
Our new little homemade press consists of one small metal galley, with a wood frame and slot to add wood type. It has a simple bookboard frisket, on which you can place a sheet of paper. Then the type is inked by hand with a brayer, the frisket is lowered and a small rolling pin is used to create the impression. The benefit of this over the Sigwalt we used last year is that we can now print larger type very easily and clean up is a breeze.
Here’s Jo set up to go with the first prints.
Despite the heat, we had a handful of little printers come through and give it a shot. Switching to a water based block printing ink was a great idea for clean up and getting tiny hands ink-free, but the heat really threw us for a curve with how fast it dried! The press bike is definitely happier on more mild days. Here’s a great shot of Jo with Lisa in their booth.
On our way out we stopped to watch some talented street artists and Jo got a lesson in spray paint.
We’ve got a really exciting date coming up with the little press and will have more on that soon!