Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

While for most people the words “wooden type” might not cause immediate excitement, once you step into the Hamilton Wood Type museum in Two-Rivers Wisconsin, that quickly changes.

The history of wooden type has seen it fall in and out of favor many times over the years. Movable wooden type was first developed in China around 1040 AD, though was rejected in favor of clay type, due to the presence of wood grain in the print, and the warping of the wood blocks due to the ink.

Wooden type returned to in China in the 1200s when a cheaper and more efficient method of producing it (including typesetting with bamboo strips to hold the blocks in place) was developed, making wood type a worthwhile alternative to clay. In 1834, William Leavenworth brought the use of wooden type back to America for much the same reasons, it was cheaper then lead, and now, it could be carved by machine, making it much more uniform.

Then in 1868, a young man named Edward J. Hamilton was asked by a rushed printer, with no time to order a special type set from Chicago, to carve a set of wooden type. Hamilton did so on a foot-powered scroll saw on his mothers back porch, and the type was a hit. By 1900 Hamilton was the largest wooden type provider in the United States. Many of America’s most famous printed materials were done in Hamiltons’s wooden types including the infamous “Wanted” posters so often seen in westerns.

Over time, wooden type, and then physical type altogether fell out of common usage. Today the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the only museum “dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type.” The museum is run by volunteers from the Two Rivers Historical Society, has over “1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns.”

The museums most impressive display is the 145-foot wall of type, the world’s largest wall of wood type and the 1,000s of different styles of wooden type in drawer after drawer. The museum also has “a fully functional workshop and educational venue” ‘illustrating antique printing technologies including the production of hot metal type, hand operated printing presses, tools of the craft and rare type specimen catalogs.”

As letterpress and other, once largely forgotten forms and crafts of typography come back into style, it seems wooden type, and the Hamilton museum which has kept the tradition alive, is once again ready for the spotlight.

Via: AtlasObscura.com

Image Dump: 070511

“Who says two spaces is wrong?”

Typographers, that’s who. The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences.

That convention was not arrived at casually. James Felici, author of the The Complete Manual of Typography, points out that the early history of type is one of inconsistent spacing. Hundreds of years ago some typesetters would end sentences with a double space, others would use a single space, and a few renegades would use three or four spaces. Inconsistency reigned in all facets of written communication; there were few conventions regarding spelling, punctuation, character design, and ways to add emphasis to type. But as typesetting became more widespread, its practitioners began to adopt best practices. Typesetters in Europe began to settle on a single space around the early 20th century. America followed soon after.

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.) Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren’t for a quirk of history. In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine’s shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do. (Also see the persistence of the dreaded Caps Lock key.)

The problem with typewriters was that they used monospaced type—that is, every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. This bucked a long tradition of proportional typesetting, in which skinny characters (like I or 1) were given less space than fat ones (like W or M). Monospaced type gives you text that looks “loose” and uneven; there’s a lot of white space between characters and words, so it’s more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. Here’s the thing, though: Monospaced fonts went out in the 1970s. First electric typewriters and then computers began to offer people ways to create text using proportional fonts. Today nearly every font on your PC is proportional. (Courier is the one major exception.) Because we’ve all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.

Type professionals can get amusingly—if justifiably—overworked about spaces. “Forget about tolerating differences of opinion: typographically speaking, typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong,” Ilene Strizver, who runs a typographic consulting firm The Type Studio, once wrote. “When I see two spaces I shake my head and I go, Aye yay yay,” she told me. “I talk about ‘type crimes’ often, and in terms of what you can do wrong, this one deserves life imprisonment. It’s a pure sign of amateur typography.” “A space signals a pause,” says David Jury, the author of About Face: Reviving The Rules of Typography. “If you get a really big pause—a big hole—in the middle of a line, the reader pauses. And you don’t want people to pause all the time. You want the text to flow.”

This readability argument is debatable. Typographers can point to no studies or any other evidence proving that single spaces improve readability. When you press them on it, they tend to cite their aesthetic sensibilities.

But actually the aesthetics are the best argument in favor of one space over two. One space is simpler, cleaner, and more visually pleasing (it also requires less work, which isn’t nothing). A page of text with two spaces between every sentence looks riddled with holes; a page of text with an ordinary space looks just as it should.

Is this arbitrary? Sure it is. But so are a lot of our conventions for writing. It’s arbitrary that we write shop instead of shoppe, or phone instead of fone. We adopted these standards because practitioners of publishing—writers, editors, typographers, and others—settled on them after decades of experience. Among their rules was that we should use one space after a period instead of two—so that’s how we should do it.

Besides, the argument in favor of two spaces isn’t any less arbitrary. Samantha Jacobs, a reading and journalism teacher at Norwood High School in Norwood, Col., told me that she requires her students to use two spaces after a period instead of one, even though she acknowledges that style manuals no longer favor that approach. Why? Because that’s what she’s used to. “Primarily, I base the spacing on the way I learned,” she wrote me in an e-mail glutted with extra spaces.

Several other teachers gave the same explanation for pushing two spaces on their students. But if you think about, that’s a pretty backward approach: The only reason today’s teachers learned to use two spaces is because their teachers were in the grip of old-school technology. We would never accept teachers pushing other outmoded ideas on kids because that’s what was popular back when they were in school. The same should go for typing. So, kids, if your teachers force you to use two spaces, send them a link to this article. Use this as your subject line: “If you type two spaces after a period, you’re doing it wrong.”

Via: Neatorama, Slate

The Santa Claw

Have you ever wondered what happens to Santa’s leftover gifts? The ones that never appeared on Christmas wish lists. Well…nothing. Until now. This year the Fat Man sent his friends at Real Art all the unused presents, and we gave them a home in The Santa Claw.

Yep we said claw. We built the biggest claw game ever. And you—or anyone in the entire world—can play the game from your own computer. Best part…if you win, we’ll send the leftover Santa goodies straight to your door.

Visit www.thesantaclaw.com for all the details. Check out the prizes, leather chaps, Dokken records, hand-held crossbows, t-shirts, Lenticular Sacred Heart Jesus, games, balls, models, scooters, skateboards and much much more. Log in now, create your customized avatar and be prepared for a clawsome good time!

Linotype: The Film

From the film’s website:

Linotype: The Film is a feature-length documentary film centered around the Linotype typecasting machine invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler. Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by Thomas Edison, the Linotype revolutionized printing and society, but very few people know about the inventor or his fascinating machine.

The Linotype completely transformed the communication of information similarly to how the internet is now changing it all again. Although these machines were revolutionary, technology began to supersede the Linotype and they were scrapped and melted-down by the thousands. Today, very few machines are still in existence.

To The Pain

The Princess Bride, from 1987, is one of my favorite films, balancing as it does romance, comedy and adventure.  The movie uses a very cool framing device of a grandfather recounting the story to his ill grandson with the child complaining about the story at various points.

Imagine my pleasure when I came across this marvelous kinetic type animation by Emily Kiel which covers one of the may memorable scenes from the film.

Here we find Humperdinck and Westley confronting each other – again.  This is not going to be to the death, but to the pain - which sounds a lot more protracted and grisly.

Via: Kuriositas

Dexter Posters

After Lost concluded Ty Mattson of Mattson Creative became a big fan of Showtime’s hit series Dexter. He was so inspired that he created one poster design for each of the first four seasons – highlighting the iconic moments from the show.

You can follow him on Twitter or check his blog and or more information about a limited print run and their availability.

American Pop-star, Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein, American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, startled the art world in 1962 by exhibiting paintings based on comic book cartoons. From his studio in New York City, Roy Lichtenstein did cartoon inspired paintings that helped launch the Pop Art movement. He was unique in that he developed a new visual language in an avant-garde style that was disruptive to viewers and yet was accessible and popular with them. He also did innovative art work that incorporated many late 20th-century movements and addressed a number of social issues.

His thirty-five year career of public recognition was celebrated in 1993-94 by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York with a large scale retrospective of his work.

Born in Manhattan Roy went to high school there. By age 14, he was taking art classes at the Parsons School of Design and also studied briefly with Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League in 1939. He then attended Ohio State University where his major influence was Hoyt Sherman, whose figure-ground relationships inspired Lichtenstein’s treatment of cliche subjects.

In 1943, he was drafted into the Army and served in Europe and then returned to Ohio State, completing his BFA and MFA and then teaching at that campus. From Cleveland, Ohio, he made frequent trips to New York and started to exhibit there in 1949. In the 1950s, he used various techniques of Abstract Expressionism, did figurative work, and like many of his generation, began employing pop art images. But he was searching for a style.

In 1957, he left Cleveland to teach at New York University in Oswego, New York, and in 1961, he began teaching at Rudgers University, where one of his colleagues, Allan Kaprow, used cartoon figures. Through Kaprow, he met many renegade New York artists including Claes Oldenburg and Jim Dine.

In 1962, he had a landmark exhibition at the Castelli Gallery that showed enlarged depictions of advertisements and comic strip images. In fact, it was gallery owner Leo Castelli who, as a major promoter of the contemporary art scene, was a key person in launching Roy’s career.

Although Lichtenstein’s pop paintings had widespread popular acceptance, he began in 1965 to do Abstract Expressionism, but in contrast to others in that style, he did work that was hard and static. In the 1990s, he did large-scale abstract interiors, and he also worked in ceramics and enamelled steel.

Throughout his career, he appeared in many documentary films and did posters for entertainments including Bill Clinton’s United States presidential campaign. Lichtenstein’s murals are in Dusseldorf, Germany; Tel Aviv, Israel; and New York City. He died unexpectedly on September 29, 1997, from viral pneumonia, having worked until the time of his death.

Via: jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Image Dump: 100810

Signage & Polaroid Negatives

Check out this excellent work by Craig Crutchfield.

Crutchfield is a designer at McGarrah Jesse who documents old signage, afraid that soon they will all be gone. To do so, he uses the negatives from Polaroid films, the part that is usually thrown away. Good concept. Nice results.

These are (for the most part) polaroid type 667 negatives or Fuji FP-3000B negatives that He’s scanned in color mode on his scanner. This setting gives the images a nice sepia tone. The junk on the outside of the photos is the paper and crust that comes natural to a 667 or FP-3000B negative.

Follow this link to check out the complete Flickr photo set!

Image Dump: 080910