Hatch was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so Laura and I took a roadtrip to Memphis in search of kitsch, Americana, history and as usual, good eats. (Come to think of it, I'm always in search of kitsch... AND good eats!). We got most of the above. We toured Graceland and Sun Recording Studio (which was totally awesome, the later of the two, that is) and we had some killer fried catfish (cornmeal breaded of course). Sadly, we were unable to go the Civil Rights Museum as we'd hope to. After we toured Graceland we drove over there (the museum is actually the Lorraine Motel, aka where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot..) we pulled up, and there were about 300 people waiting outside to get in. So instead we decided to spend our time by going to Sun Recording Studio, and I'm glad we did. Check it out here and here.
A few goofy photos from our day,
Elvis's badass TV Room
There was an Elvis clambake movie?
Sun Recording Studio
Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis all may have sang out of this microphone... And me too!!!
Let me begin by reminding you that EVERY letter you see is picked out of the drawers (we call them cases), one by one and placed into a composing stick (see the 4th photo down for reference). We use little wooden sticks called "riglettes" to space out words and lines and to keep the overall composition very tight. This process may sound boring and tedious but it is actually very fulfilling, almost calming in a way. Calming and fun until you realize there are no more lower case t's, and then you want to cry. So it goes both ways I guess! Maybe you need to ask a real letterpress printer, I'm really just living in a temporary Letterpress fairytale land. But either way, I'm loving every minute of it!
Poster to be re-typeset
I start out line by line, letter by letter
Slowly but surely..
Close-up of a composing stick. Each line must fit in here very tightly because when you go to lay your type in the bed of the letterpress your woodtpye and metal type can pop out and cause damage if not properly secured. The composing stick keeps the width of the line consistent.
Close up of the set type. Ain't it purdy?? Notice alllll the different pieces of type and riglettes.
...And when you're done, each letter is placed back into it's appropriate case, letter by letter..
Ever wonder who works at Hatch Show Print? Below are a few of the designer/printers.
Brad, he's awesome and basically know everything about Hatch and letterpressin'!
He also likes malt balls (and sometimes steals your camera).
Bethany, awesome as well. Dontcha love that orange ink??
To sum it up simply, Hatch Show Print is a Magical Letterpress Land. Floor to ceiling shelves of woodtype in all shapes & sizes, wood cuts and all sorts of crazy things. As my mom would say, there's enough woodtype "to sink a battleship." There are piles and piles and PILES of posters laying around, and the walls are lined with them. It's like sensory overload and can be a bit numbing after a while. It's insane. Insanely awesome.
Excuse my crass description, it's a little hard to describe!
Within about 5 minutes of being there I met the legendary Jim Sherraden and I have to admit I was totally star struck. The whole staff is so kind. Jim was talking about how letterpress people are good people, which I find to be completely true, and said "nobody that works here is a jerk." Kinda hilarious. Design firms and ad agencies? Not so much.. With that same thought he said, "...there is just something about letterpress that brings out the best in people." What a great line. I share this same thought with him.
Today was "Inventory Day" for us Hatch Show printers, which involved counting every single poster in the shop. We counted thousands of posters. Thousands and thousands of GLORIOUS posters! It was a great way to kick off our time there as we were able to see a full range of styles. I only got 2 papercuts.
They have a 'unique' way of organizing things—basically it's all organized in piles on the floor. Which I'm totally cool with. I find organized piles on the floor to be a perfectly acceptable way of organizing! Heh.. **More Hatch idiosyncrasies to come later. There are many.** They design & produce about 600 posters a year, that's about 11-12 finished posters a week.
One of our tasks today involved going through a large wooden box of "Bin" posters. These are posters that will be sold for $3.00 a piece that are of less popular appeal. And again, we processed THOUSANDS of posters. Festivals, goofy reunions, obscure bands, etc. etc... We were encouraged to take as many posters that we wanted and I think I came home with at least 40 posters. Most interns are usually only allowed to take home 5 "bin" posters, but since we were doing heavy duty inventory, they let us take more.
Some of the MANY cases of woodtype
These shelves contain mostly woodtype, and linoleum cuts
Some of Jim's famous monoprints, and some reprints of an old "One Sheet" block
And Huey!!! He's a biggin.
For the month of January I will be interning at the legendary Hatch Show Print in Nashville TN, and I can't tell you how excited and thankful I am to be doing this. I applied for this position back in the fall, and to my great delight I was accepted. I decided to keep a blog during my time here so that I can share this awesome experience with others. So expect to see LOTS of photos, watch a video or 2 and read details about what it's like to work at Hatch Show Print. I hope you enjoy reading.
I'd like to share a snippet from my cover letter. I feel that it sums up my thoughts and attitudes towards letterpress and Hatch Show Print quite well...
I am so eager to experience all that is Hatch Show Print. I want to work alongside the best minds in the field of letterpress and absorb everything about it. I want to experience the sights, the smells, the sounds… I want to breath in dirt from century old wood type, I want to shake Jim Sherraden’s hand, and meet all the people that keep this American institution alive and running. I want to understand what it must be like to have the best job on earth. I want to experience what it is like to work at Hatch Show Print.
Thank you! Happy reading..