History becomes tangible in a studio setting where tradition is married to experimentation. I'm not just resuscitating an outdated technology—I'm using it to explore new ways forward. Here’s an example of my most recent experiment.
I began with digital type designed by Eric Wolinsky in the graphic design program at Virginia Commonwealth University. The name of the type family is Halfton and has a solid face and a skeleton face.
The first step in my experiment was to import Eric’s type into the modeling software required for a 3D printer. Tobias Wilber in our graphic design program and Connor Broaddus in the Engineering program collaborated to develop the macros for the software extension to streamline this process.
Next it was uploaded the 3D files to the server in the computer lab of the Sculpture department at VCU where they have an SST 3-Dimensional printer. Eric McMaster, Assistant Professor of Sculpture and extended media then formatted the files in order to send them to the 3D printer.
Each letterform of the alphabet was printed as a 3-dimensional type-high block with a solid face on one side and a skeleton on the flip side. Type-high is a precise measurement for inking and printing type on a letterpress printer. Since Eric designed the family to be all caps, we printed each uppercase character as a movable block.
After printing the blocks, I moved to the letterpress lab in the graphic design department at VCU, locked them up solid side face up using the pangram “THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG” on an SP-25Vandercook, a flatbed cylinder press. I inked the press with neon green oil base ink and pulled the first color of our poster.
Because each block has its Skeleton face on the flip side in perfect registration, I simply turned each block over to print the second color with teal ink. A run of 36 posters was the result of our project titled Gutenberg Remix.
Several years ago during a type 1 class, a student asked me, “Why are we learning to work with our hands?” I simply answered, “Isn’t it time we evolved from the computer?” His eyes lit up with possibility.