Michael Gill is a busy man these days. Once serving as Scene’s Visual Arts Editor, Gill is now the Director of the Collective Arts Network and editor and publisher of its CAN Journal. Last month, he released his new hand-printed book, A Pocket Full of Change, along with a related exhibition at Tregoning & Company. For the next two Saturdays, Nov. 14 and 21, he’s hosting a Letterpress Holiday Card Making Workshop at Zygote Press.
“People in the class will learn to set type, will make their own card designs, combining their text with either carved blocks that they bring, or with some of Zygote's stash of old fashioned holiday-oriented metal plates,” Gill promises.
Over the two days, Gill will teach the basics of letterpress on Zygote’s Cleveland-made Chandler & Price press.
“For this letterpress workshop our primary machine will be a Chandler and Price press, which happens to have been made not far from Zygote,” Gill ellaborates. “C&P was a Cleveland company that made the most popular presses of the early 20th century. This way, Cleveland had a huge impact on the print industry of the industrial age. These are hand-fed, hand operated presses, great for printing something the size of a greeting card. Their action is something like a locomotive—with a mechanism coordinating the motion of the platen with the flywheel. It's operated by a treadle. You pump it with your foot. The C&P at Zygote prints in 4-4 time, I've noticed. It takes four strokes of the pedal to make one printed impression.”
He continues, “We will also use the Vandercook press, which is the one I used to make A Pocket Full of Change. The Vandercook is a flat bed proofing press, and it's much slower to use than the chandler and price. Rather than a flywheel and a platen that presses paper against the form, it has a flat bed, where the type or the printing block goes, and a cylinder with a gripper to hold the paper as it rolls over whatever it is that you are printing. Both of these presses print one color at a time. So to do something like A Pocket Full of Change, the artist has to align each block to print each color in a given picture one at a time. It's like piecing together a puzzle, or like composing. When I'm working on these pictures, it feels to me like construction, building up the picture one block by one.”
Under the guidance of Gill, participants will use the press to create a series of prints to take home and give away. Letterpress is a perfect way to create unique, inexpensive and fun holiday cards.
Space is limited. This two-day workshop is $140 for non-members and $119 for Zygote Press members. Once you learn how to use the machine, you can purchase additional studio time to print as many cards as you’d like.
Gill’s Collective Arts Network hosts a free, public launch party for CAN Journal’s Winter 2015-16 issue at Heights Arts next Friday, Nov. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m.
(Zygote Press) 1410 E. 30th St., 216-621-2900, zygotepress.com