Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Intercut wood typeface project
January 23, 2008 11:28 AM   Subscribe

The product of an entire semester's work: one single type block. An essay on letterpress printing with wood. [via]
posted by Armitage Shanks (17 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's like no one ever told him about photopolymer plates.
posted by rusty at 11:50 AM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]



And he picked the letter "r"?

Someone should have suggested a wingding with mammaries. srsly.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:02 PM on January 23, 2008


Hush, futureman.
posted by cortex at 12:02 PM on January 23, 2008


Very cool. I own several prints from Hatch Show Prints and always wanted to make my own set of blocks and create the world's coolest Christmas cards for all my friends (specifically along the lines of this abstract image). This has gone that much further towards discouraging me from doing that as I have no fancy equipment and would be doing it with a hammer and chisel. Still, very cool. Luddites Unite!
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:06 PM on January 23, 2008


The design is a little ugly, to be honest, but the work involved is incredible. A+, would click again.
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:12 PM on January 23, 2008


By exploring dynamic approaches to modularity, appropriation, deconstruction, non-linearity, and formal abstraction, the aim of this project is to develop an experimental typographic system for letterpress printing which is both visually and conceptually interesting. In this system, the role of letters as visual representations of language becomes secondary to their power as expressive formal structures.

Art school... it's a real pity.

Also, it's an spiral end mill not a "drill bit" ffs... sad...
posted by prostyle at 12:14 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


As a letterpress printer, I have tons of respect for this project. Type of that size is hard to come by. When you find it, it's usually one letter at a time, or super expensive.

As a business minded pragmatist, I echo Rusty wondering why he just didn't use photopolymer plates.

At any rate, this youtube video has an interesting look into the process, too.

No to quench this itchy router finger...
posted by pantsonfire at 12:15 PM on January 23, 2008


I am presently sitting in a co-op building full of artists including potters, sculptors, printmakers, photographer [me], painters etc... and do you know what the overriding characteristic of all these people is? Patience, and her sister perseverance. Patience to see an idea through to completion, and perseverance in the face of error and mishap. If you have patience, you can create beauty with the most primitive of tools. Without it, you're reduced to a screaming tantrum of whine: "it's too hard / i don't have the tools / it just won't come out right."

I don't mean to pick on anyone; my message is simpler: Finish the dreams you start.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:17 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


As a fan of Nick's work here and in other media (he's one of the most talented designers I know, both in print and on screen), here's why I might embark on such a project (although I know I don't have half the skill he has):

Because things that are worth doing well are not easy to do, and things that are not easy to do are often very much worth doing. And I believe this was worth doing - once, at least.
posted by luriete at 12:29 PM on January 23, 2008


It's like no one ever told him about photopolymer plates.

Or Inkjets and photoshop. Although I think the "journey" here was what he was intrested.
posted by delmoi at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


*gets all geeky*

Intellectually and historically, this is actually pretty damn cool. I'll have to look into doing something like this.

Incidentally, there is a far easier way to accomplish such a goal as this (the creation of personal movable type); take some engraved wooden letter blocks, the kind you used to have when you were four years old. Chisel/sand/whatever off the framed edges, so that the letter stands out on each side. Then, put some ink on it. Now you've got 4-6 letters for the price of one wooden block and some elbow grease.
posted by Reth_Eldirood at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2008


take some engraved wooden letter blocks, the kind you used to have when you were four years old

They would print backwards.
posted by bradbane at 1:57 PM on January 23, 2008


In the twelve-block layout, top row, third from left is absolutely fascinating to me. Like a very stylized monogram, it's abundantly lettery without actually being legible, and I love that.
posted by eritain at 2:11 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm also surprised to learn that they used end-grain. Seems like humidity changes would warp the letters in funny ways. The Song dynasty wooden type of China had the grain running horizontally through each block (which is why the horizontals are thin compared to the verticals), so at least the piece would still be rectangular if it warped.
posted by eritain at 2:19 PM on January 23, 2008


Heh. I bet he could have gotten the 'R' done in about a week with better quality if he'd spent less time yapping about "dynamic approaches to modularity, appropriation, deconstruction, non-linearity, and formal abstraction" and was willing to drop the twenty bucks for the fancy wood.

I mean, let's dig into that:

dynamic approaches - complete buzzword
modularity - hey, I can cut the blocks into pieces and put them back together to make letters
appropriation - it's easier if I start from this old typeface
deconstruction - hey, I can cut the blocks into pieces and not put them back together to make letters
non-linearity - I also figured out I can just throw down the letters willy-nilly
formal abstraction - If I throw down enough letters willy-nilly and on top of each other they don't even make words anymore

As for craftsmanship, patience, and "things that are worth doing well aren't easy"? He used inferior material and threw it on a CNC router. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's also not an impressive feat. I guess you have to patient while the CNC machine does it's work.

However, it's inspired me to create some art of my own tonight while cooking hamburgers to dinner. Judging by verbosity, I think I could make some even better art: I will use dynamic approaches in a personal exploration of modularity, appropriation, deconstruction, non-linearity, morality, and decontextualization.

dynamic approaches in a personal exploration - if dynamic is good, a dynamic personal exploration is even better
modularity - hamburger's made of meat, bun, ketchup, lettuce, tomato
appropriation - I didn't invent the hamburger
deconstruction - instead of putting together a hamburger I could just throw all the ingredients on the plate
non-linearity - or I could put the cheese side downwards and maybe have both sides of the bun on top
morality - wait, is it even right to eat meat?
decontextualization - one of these hamburgers I'm not even gonna serve on a plate, man. Meatbomb, pass me the bong, this is blowin' my mind.

I'll admit I couldn't figure out a way to perform formal abstraction on the hamburger that wasn't really overreaching it (maybe if I was a true artist I wouldn't be worried about that), but this whole post has made me hungry so I'm going to the store. Actually, put down "the force of desire" somewhere in my artist's statement up there.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:21 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Very interesting. I must admit my hackles rise at stuff like this: "…and before not too long, I found it quite pleasing to throw all preconceptions of legibility and traditional typographic communication out the window." But hey, art school. And the illustrations and explanations were nice. Well worth the click.
posted by languagehat at 3:26 PM on January 23, 2008


take some engraved wooden letter blocks, the kind you used to have when you were four years old

They would print backwards.


It's the same conundrum Charles Manson faced when he carved the swastika into his forehead: Do you carve it "forwards" so that it looks correct to those around you, or do you carve it "backwards" so that it looks correct when you see yourself in the mirror?

Morton Downey Jr. was similarly vexed.
posted by Tube at 7:12 PM on January 23, 2008


« Older Irritated and indifferent -- consumers in the Expe...  |  SpaceShipTwo (SS2)... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments