Monday, June 10, 2013

Guest Blogger Charles Wisseman, on Daredevil Letterpress at PBI

Charles Wisseman is a retired pathologist who now does mixed media art with a current emphasis on book arts and papermaking. Charles lives in Champaign, Illinois and has a website where he shares some of his work: Charles took a letterpress class at Paper and Book Intensive last month where they were literally printing in circles, and any other shape they could manage.

Daredevil Letterpress was taught by Jessica Spring, who teaches in Washington State and runs Springtide Press. She encouraged us to think outside the rectangular box when setting up a letterpress layout. Everyone liked the type held in a circle between a roll of tape and a pipe clamp. This opened our mind to the possibilities, and each participant took a different approach.

Printing circular type.

Printing curvy type.

We all were introduced to the wonders of the California job case, the pica pole, the Vandercook press, mixing ink, cleaning up in the least toxic manner, etc. People were encouraged to do prints with more than one color, and to try for a high level of quality.

There is only one Vandercook press in this studio, so print time had to be scheduled. Jessica spent long hours monitoring the printing. Despite the scheduling difficulties, there was a very cooperative atmosphere.

I decided to use the poster press, on loan from the Morgan Conservatory, because this is what I have at home. I have some wood type, also, so I did a layout of wood type held in a galley tray by a carved-out 1/2 inch foam core. Others liked this method of holding type and made complex and sinuous arrangements of type and image. I opted for all hand inking in the poster press to give a very variable edition for the class portfolio. I also tried some of the pressure printing techniques I had seen in the Sarah Bryant class the week before.

Examples of class work

Others did complex linoleum cutouts, water color additions, sewn in thread, images in speedball cutout material, and color gradients. I had little previous experience in letterpress, so all of this seemed daring enough for me. The portfolio looked great, and one set sold well in the scholarship auction. Thanks to PBI for bringing in this innovative and humorous instructor.

- Charles Wisseman


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing and for the link to Charles' website - I love his work!
I am so glad we got a chance to connect at PBI and that now I can say I know you!! Looking forward to getting all nostalgic over the next few posts...

MyHandboundBooks said...

It was very nice to meet you too, Deb! More class reviews coming soon :)

MyHandboundBooks said...

Thnnk you, Charlie, for sharing this with us!