This print attempts to connect the physical sensation of touch with the emotion of feeling, laser cutting offers an absence that seemed an interesting comment on our possible contemporary disconnect with these two sensations.
Seeing the posts and imagining all the other great work assuredly going on around the project, I was at a bit of a loss on how to start. So I procrastinated. And waited. And allowed the holidays, and teaching, and a design practice to get in the way.
Then I realized I had history on my side, well research into the history of wood type. And a CNC machine. To clarify, research into the history of wood type specimen books, a CNC machine and a blatant mis-reading of the supplied glyphs.
When I first unpacked the package from Tricia and Ashley (last year) I immediately configured the word “couth” and began thinking about the nature and meaning of this odd little word that I was more familiar with as a negative (and continued procrastinating). Visiting the project blog my mis-reading became apparent C-O-U-T-H was more appropriately T-O-U-C-H. Back to the drawing board—or not. Using a both/and rather than an either/or approach, “couth touch” struck me as somehow having a ring of the nineteenth century about it, or more importantly seemed like an odd word combination found a nineteenth century wood type specimen book.
I have been researching the chromatic types of the nineteenth century, specifically William H. Page specimens produced leading up to their 1874 masterpiece. The high point of Chromatic wood type production came in 1874 when the William H. Page Wood Type Co. issued a 100-page Specimens of Chromatic Type & Borders.
Combining the mis-reading of the type at hand, and thinking about dynamic color and exuberant typographic design work pointed me on my way. So, no more procrastinating…
There’s a simple explanation. It’s a little embarrassing.
Truth is, I forgot to take a photo of one before I sent them off and left for Copenhagen.
But I can assure you that after several late nights,
they emerged from nothingness and are currently on the slow boat to Pennsylvania.
(And they look vaguely like this. What can I say.)
Having experimented with the characters touching each other, our latest prints focus on the impression of the type upon the paper- from touch to ouch.
I was first struck by the size of the type and remembered Tricia asking if I had gotten the 5 inch type– yes indeed!
Our initial explorations with the wood type focus on relating the content to the form. A literal approach was taken during a day on the press, experimenting with letter-spacing, and negative letter-spacing. This is the antithesis of how we usually work. The limitations of letterpress, due to the physical body of the type, mean that if type is to be printed in one run then it is most straightforward to letter-space the type out.
There is slightly too much impression, which was necessary in achieving an even print due to the varying wood used for the different characters. This will inform the basis of further explorations examining the ‘kiss’ of the type with the paper.
Felt and wire posted a write-up our project in the “so noted” section of their website and their facebook page. They will also be publishing a longer, article soon to include prints. Keep posted for that…