Archive for the ‘Fluff’ Category


We’ve had just about the most perfect spring here this year—with weather so unseasonably sunny, for weeks on end, that it simply would be criminal not to get outside for every second one can. On days like this, work can wait awhile—and the camera moves to the front burner. When the sun is shining here, a perfect moment is never hard to find.


It’s that time of year again: the trees are blooming outside, and inside we’re playing with knives. The ninth (!) annual Tacoma Wayzgoose is one week from today—and if we’re really lucky, Jessica and I might just finish carving our design by then. As usual, we’ll reveal the whole design that day, but until then, this little peek might look familiar…

If you’re new to my tiny u-bend of the Intertubes, you might ask: what the heck is a Wayzgoose? It’s a festival celebrating the art of printing, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. Here in T-town, our party mobile is a steamroller—yes, ma’am—and we churn out giant-sized linocuts in the street to mark the occasion. If you’re local, come on by and get ink on your jeans:

9th Annual Tacoma Wayzgoose
Sunday, April 28, 2013
11 am to 4 pm, Free!
King’s Books
218 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, WA

In the meantime, you can whet your appetite with a stroll down Amnesia Lane—take a look at the ghosts of Wayzgeese past:

2009 (Tacoma)
2010 (Tacoma)
2011 (Tacoma)
2011 (San Francisco)
2012 (Tacoma)

See you next week, rain or shine!


Today is my fourth anniversary of living in lovely T-town. And all I can think of is: A) I can’t believe it’s been four years already—


and B) I still can’t believe I live in a place where artichokes will grow happily in the front yard.

I love this place.

Since they tell me a picture’s worth a bucket of words:


Thank you, everyone!


Oh, man. I’m beat. You people plum wore me out this time. Every year I keep thinking we can’t possibly top the previous year, but Wayzgoose just keeps getting better and better. And this year, the weather was so unbelievably good* that I think half of Tacoma (plus a good portion of Seattle and a smattering of Portland) put on their walking shoes and marched into our midst.

*See all those pairs of sunglasses? That straw hat? You don’t see those much ’round these parts. We’re the pasty-rainy vampire people, remember? Sunshine in April = naw, son, you must be dreaming.

To put it another way: it was absolute crazy sauce.

Or maybe it was just that the word is fully out now about our little printers’ party. After all, the Volcano said, “There are otherwise button-down, Wonder-bread, vanilla South Sounders who lose their ever-lovin’ shizz over Wayzgoose.” Amen, bros.

Big thanks to everyone who showed up to the party (even if I didn’t get a chance to thank you in person); to the Tacoma Arts Commission for being our fairy godparents; to the small army of adorable volunteers who kept everything chuggin’ along; to Rosemary Ponnekanti at the News Tribune for the write-up; to Kyle Durrie for making an appearance in her travelin’ Type Truck; and to sweet pea Flaherty and Jessica Spring for making it all happen.


Speaking of Jessica, I think I laid eyes on her all of twice, all day. She was scurrying around and herding cats outside, while I was camped behind a steady stream of folks at our adjacent tables (thanks, y’all!). There wasn’t even room to sneak a hip shot of how many people were shoehorned in there, so the only photos I could snag were right at the beginning before folks showed up, or at the end, when people finally started to clear out.


I know this doesn’t look like a big crowd, but trust me—it was a total sardine can in there. (Or clown car, if you prefer circus metaphors. I know I do.) But when the room is packed with all your favorite Northwesterners, it’s a win-win.


Among the talented regulars was my lovely friend Keegan,


and of course, Atticus, who frequently thinks he’s a pirate parrot. Yarr!


There was also a very special newcomer this year. Remember my former student Sara? Well, she caught the letterpress bug, and caught it bad. In less than three years since she took my class, she and her husband Brad (pictured) have gone from newbie nestlings to fully-fledged, successful business owners. (And they’re not the only ones!) Sigh. My kids are all grown up and making a hand-printed ruckus! It does my heart good.


Outside, spring was in full bloom at the L’Arche booth,


and the steamroller prints were better than ever. (Special shout-out to Audra Laymon for her goatey Blueberry Park print! I think a hundred people heard me squeal when I saw it.)

Jessica and I decided to sit out the steamroller this year to make room for a few new folks, and that turned out to be a smart move. Just standing at my table for six+ hours hobbled me like an arthritic old woman—I don’t think my knee was up to printing. My only regret was not being able to witness much of the spectacle this year.


I did sneak outside long enough to learn that Tacoma’s own Arts Commissioners had been pressed into service (heckuva job, Scott!)—


and that the print quality was the tastiest it’s ever been, thanks to some tweaked techniques Jessica gleaned from our day in San Francisco last fall.


Attendance reached a new record this year—I think we’re an official Tacoma institution now. Mr. sweet pea says the count of men, women, children, babies and beasties approached the 1,000 mark!


R.J. says: Word to your mother.


When Jessica and I were in North Carolina last summer, we had just enough sightseeing time to squeeze in a short trip along the aptly-named Blue Ridge Parkway.


Between the dappled sunlight,


the lush Southern greenery,


and the unexpected splashes of color,


we were enchanted in an instant.

(I, for one, was tempted to do a little Katniss Everdeen impression—just run away from it all and head for the hills.)


It wasn’t hard to imagine sitting down and breaking out the paper and paints, with all that blue haze as inspiration.


Photo from Wikipedia

The folks at the nearby Penland School of Craft certainly agree. Since Lucy Morgan founded it in 1929, Penland has become a national center for craft education. Widely respected for its preservation of handcraft traditions, Penland is centered on total-immersion study and both traditional and experimental techniques. Settled in a quiet pocket of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s an inspiring setting for focused work. Thanks to its reputation and location, the school attracts some of the country’s best artists and fine craftspeople to study and teach in the Penland studios.

So you can imagine how thrilled and honored Jessica and I were when they asked us to come and teach a letterpress workshop there this summer.

We’ll be teaching a one-week printing intensive, and doing our very best to turn the printshop upside down. This ain’t your grandpa’s letterpress. Here are the details:

Letterpress: Old Dog, New Tricks

A printmaking intensive with Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring
Penland School of Crafts, Penland, NC

Summer Session 7: Aug. 26 to Sept. 1, 2012 (scroll down the listings to find our class)


In the class, we’ll work with both hand-set type (don’t worry, we won’t monkey with any linotype machines…) and photopolymer plates to produce editioned prints that combine the two techniques.


We’re going to get pretty technical, pretty fast, but don’t worry—the workshop is open to all levels of experience. That way we can bring letterpress newbies up to speed quickly, and give more experienced printers the chance to go nuts and geek out with us.


Unnatural Light by Jessica Spring

You’ll be doing some death-defying typesetting by hand, using Jessica’s acrobatic techniques,


On a Mission Dead Feminist print

and I’ll teach you the ropes of designing for photopolymer, so you can throw a three-ring hand-drawn circus into the mix.


So get thee to the mountains and join us! Registration is open now, but don’t wait too long—the class is capped at 12 students.

See you in North Carolina! Save me some grits, will you?

As you might recall, last Sunday we had a little film festival celebrating all things letterpress. Even though the show’s over, the main event of Wayzgoose is still on deck. So as a little warm-up to get you in the printing mood, I thought I’d share a couple of the films we featured.

First up is an animated short I mentioned over a year ago, after I saw it at the Codex Bookfair in California. I’m pleased to announce that Old Time Film, by Barbara Tetenbaum and Marilyn Zornado, is finally viewable online! So let’s get this party started:

Oh, man. I love that. If you want your very own copy of the film (trust me, you do—there’s a little making-of featurette on the DVD), you can purchase it here. No, Barb and Marilyn aren’t paying me to hawk their movie—I’m just a believer, that’s all.


I’ll leave you with one of my very favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone, circa 1963, where a gleefully terrifying Burgess Meredith gets a newspaper job as the world’s fastest linotype caster. There’s a catch, though: Mr. Smith has a secret. To get in on it, you need to understand the little letterpress inside joke behind the episode’s title.

You see, a typesetter’s inky hands (and quite possibly the inflammatory writ published by the early masters) earned printing the moniker “the Black Art.” So there are all sorts of clever nicknames to go with that title. For instance, a letterpress apprentice was called a “printer’s devil,” and old, broken type gets thrown in the “hell box” to await being melted down. The list goes on.

Get it yet?


Well, watch and you’ll see what I mean. (Gaah! That face.)

Da, da, daaaaaa!

Join us on April 22 for the Wayzgoose, and get in on the devilish fun.

In the meantime, I’m going to practice lighting cigars with my index finger.


Just wanted to give you a peek at what I’ve been doing these days. I try not to think about it too hard, because I officially unveiled the thing almost a year ago, but I’m still working on my book.


Big dang pile of box parts; coffee cup provided for scale.

You see, it’s one thing to get the prototype done for the exhibition, but when you’re making an edition of books, that means you have to finish all the rest of the copies, too.


Obviously, I have my work cut out for me.

Now, to hear the ancient Mayans tell it, I’d best hurry—because time is running out. And there are still so many pictures to draw!


Illustration by Zander Cannon

So my good friend and old-tyme RISD buddy Thomas Quinn had the ingenious idea to count down our remaining days in style by designing and curating a 2012 Apocalypse Calendar, featuring a different artist for each month. The result of all his hard work (read: herding cats) is a fabulous collection of artwork—and possibly a niggling sense of dread as the days count down.

Besides the added bonus of working alongside old friends (Maris Wicks! Dan Hertzberg! Ryan Browne!) and rock-star artists I’ve admired for years (Jay Ryan! Zander Cannon!), I loved the fact that T.Q. let me interpret the theme however I pleased. Rather than going down the illustrated path of mass carnage or Biblical archetypes (I figured those topics would be well covered by the other folks), I decided to time-travel back to my favorite mass-hysterical era, the 1950s.


I did a little research, and dug up a whole bunch of vintage advice on how to survive the end of the world—including a handbook on how to build a fallout shelter, and how to keep yourself amused once you’re in there.


This thing just cracked me up. It has all kinds of “expert” wisdom (like how to fend off the roving bands of contaminated neighbors who will inevitably stop by to borrow a cup of sugar) and cheery photos of housewives preparing dinner with a can opener while dear ol’ Dad bonds with the kids.


Which, of course, reminded me of my other favorite relic from the 50s: illustrated cookbooks. Talk about a goldmine! Everybody from uncredited production interns to the late, great Charley Harper did a cookbook back in the day. The fact that these illustrators were often limited to cheap, two-color printing actually made for surprising, innovative and beautiful results.

And of course, as you already know, I am completely fascinated by the sheer number of terrifying Jell-o recipes and ill-advised casseroles that crop up in old cookbooks.


And since that got me thinking all sorts of wonderfully twisted things about housewives at the End Times, and how Jell-o can probably survive a nuclear holocaust, I decided to combine the two.


So here’s my contribution to the calendar: how to bury your head in the sand, in style. I asked T.Q. for October, since it’s my birthday month, and he was kind enough to oblige. So I went nuts with the pumpkin orange and threw a Halloween party. Complete with absurd salad recipe (that you could actually make, but I wouldn’t advise it), shelter decorating hints, and just a little untold destruction, for garnish.


Illustration by Steve Seeley

We decided that spiffy, large-format, high-quality offset printing is the best way to show off the artwork, so we’ve set up a Kickstarter project to fund the thing. (We even put together a nifty and hilarious video!) Kickstarter is a fairly new phenomenon, and it’s proven to be a wonderful resource for artists, especially—and since the Kickstarter logo uses the same font as the Dunkin Donuts logo, it makes my designer’s lizard brain happy.

Kickstarter works the way an NPR pledge drive does—you get various gifts in return for your support amount. Twenty bucks will buy you a calendar, and there are a bunch of goodies available at other pledge levels, like signed calendars, original art, and even the ability to make the artist of your choice do your bidding and draw your apocalyptic portrait. (Yes, you read that right.) As of today we’ve got 24 days left, and if we meet our goal, we’ll be shipping calendars in December.

Now, the tricky thing about Kickstarter is that it’s an all-or-nothing kind of thing. If we don’t make our set funding goal by the time the clock runs out, the apocalypse will come early we don’t get any of the moolah pledged so far. So pretty please, do us a huge favor by doing your annual calendar shopping a wee bit early—you can make your pledge here.

After all, if the Mayans have their facts straight, this is the last calendar you’ll ever need to buy, right?

Holy flying gaggles, but we upped the ante this year!


I don’t know if it was the gorgeous sunshine that graced us after literally months of dreary rain—


Colossal portrait by Hutch and the students of Charles Wright Academy

or if it was the near-superhuman feats of linoleum carving—


or sweet pea’s extra-awesome 2011 poncho—


but this year’s Wayzgoose was larger than life.

(In case you’re curious, that little Sigwalt press is inked up to print “I got goosed in Tacoma!” in an eye-frying safety orange that would make any Ducks Geese Unlimited hunter proud. I mean, come on—we have standards. This is some high-brow entertainment here.)

Anyway, speaking of geese…



As you can see, we took our little Dead Feminists theme somewhat loosely this time. And in fact, we’ve dubbed our print Loosey Goosey, so there! There is a bit of a story behind this one, though. We’ve been equal parts amused and annoyed by the recent crafty and pop-cultural trends involving moustaches and putting birds on things—and for months I’ve been threatening to put a moustache on a bird on something, just to prove a point. I don’t know what that point is, exactly, but I figured it was time to put my moustache where my mouth is.

Which reminds me:


we weren’t kidding about the ’stache wax. Hey, if you’re going to go, go all out.


Jessica seemed perfectly at home while operating heavy machinery and sporting a full-on Wilford Brimley look—


I mostly just looked like Ned Flanders.


That’s okay, though—synchronized inking is serious business, and this duo don’t mess around.


And we weren’t the only ones. Lance and Tom of Beautiful Angle, Tacoma’s original letterpress pair, were on hand to show everyone how it’s done. And they have real facial hair, to boot!


Perennial crowd-pleaser Ric Matthies rounded out the accidental animal theme (we still don’t know how that happened).


A ridiculously talented crop of newcomers included my friends Katy and Keegan, who comprise Portland’s Keeganmeegan & Co;


the fabulously clever Sarah Utter of Olympia;


and Tacoma’s own Audra Laymon, who rose to the occasion beautifully.


Many, many thanks to all the supporters, enthusiasts and volunteers who turned out in droves;


to Katy Meegan and Mary Holste for snapping ’stache shots for us;


to King’s for being the host with the most;


and to the Tacoma Arts Commission for sponsoring our steamroller shenanigans.

So … tell me.

Is it too soon to start cookin’ up next year’s ‘goose?

Hi. Remember me? That’s okay, I don’t remember me, either.

Next time I try to rationalize to myself the reasons for not blogging, and I think, There’s no time, I’m going to remind myself that at least I don’t have to hand-carve my blog, backwards, out of a gigantic industrial sheet of linoleum, and then print it in the street with a steamroller.


Wait. Maybe that would actually get me to blog more often.

Anyway, Jessica and I have locked ourselves in her studio with an armful of Talking Heads records (go, portable turntable!) and some very sharp knives. Don’t worry about us, though—it’s just an annual tradition here in T-town.

That’s because this Sunday is the seventh annual Wayzgoose, that crazy letterpress block party that draws hordes, flocks, gaggles of people to King’s Books for some seriously huge fun. And we’ll be polishing up our street cred with the main event—steamroller printing. We’ll be pounding that pavement come rain or shine (please, pray for shine), so stop by and check it out!

7th Annual Wayzgoose
Sunday, April 17, 2011
11 am to 4 pm
King’s Books
218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma
More information and artist roster here

Near the top of a very long list of things I love about Tacoma is the sheer number of people here who know what the heck a Wayzgoose is. If you haven’t experienced ours for yourself yet, you’re in for a treat. Meet a whole host of local and regional artists; shop a huge array of letterpress art and gifts; make your own books and posters; and don’t forget to bring a t-shirt! The D.I.Y. screen printing booth will back by popular demand, and this year, some of the street-printing artists (including yours truly) are going to have bite-sized versions of their steamroller designs ready to be made into t-shirts. I know what I’ll be wearing this weekend.

Speaking of which … Jessica and I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so we’re keeping our design under wraps for now. But let’s just say that this year we’ll be getting our feathers ruffled—


—and breaking out the ’stache wax.

See you Sunday!