The 2016 ATF Conference, Day 3

The third day of the conference took place primarily at the Press & Letterfoundry of Michael and Winifred Bixler in Skaneateles, returning to the hotel in Auburn for the closing banquet in the evening.

The morning started with Mike and Winnie Bixler telling us the history and some projects of their foundry in The Who, What, Where and Why of the Bixler Letterfoundry. After the presentation, there was plenty of Q&A and as that tapered off things transitioned to the open house at the foundry.

As part of the open house, some of the casters were ready to run (without incident this time), and many of the books produced by the Bixlers were available for examination. People milled about looking at everything, including some gorgeous cabinets Mike himself made for storing his matrices and other equipment.

This is one point where my memory, three months later, is a bit fuzzy. I was reasonably sure that I had been running the Supercaster, casting thistle ornaments for a while during the open house, but clearly I also cast some during the workshops on day 1 because they were sold in the auction. I’m going to have to start taking better notes, or perhaps writing these blog posts in a more timely manner!

Lunch was available at the foundry, but the open house continued into the afternoon as well.

Mid-afternoon there were two more presentations:

Richard Årlin, from Stigsbergets Stamp och Press, in Stockholm, Sweden, showed us his work in making a font from his own punches. In addition to cutting his own punches, he has his own jigs for punching the mats so as to minimize the amount of finishing required by holding the mat and punch in standardized positions. His YouTube channel contains several videos showing some of his work.

Bradley Hutchinson, from Letterpress.com, in Austin Texas, spoke about some of his recent work, including producing a new casting of Victor Hammer’s Andromaque face using matrices electroformed by Andy Dunker. Bradley provided a handout with a sample of the result, along with another sample printed in Poliphilus and Blado.

After the presentations, the program listed a Show and Tell session but there wasn’t much extra to show so it pretty much blended into the rest of the open house for the remainder of the afternoon. I took the opportunity to show the computer caster interface I’ve been working on, although it was not yet ready to actually run a caster; all it was doing at the time was cycling through the individual ribbon channels to test valve action and air flow.

After the open house, we returned to Auburn for the closing banquet. After supper, there was a discussion of business such as the location for the next conference, followed by a presentation by Rich Hopkins on the beginnings of the ATF, circa 1978. All this was punctuated by loud thunderclaps from a heavy thunderstorm that developed that evening.

Posted in American Typecasting Fellowship, Conferences and Meet-ups, Kevin, Past Events

32nd Annual OCADU Book Arts Fair

Coming up in only 5 days: The 32nd annual OCADU Book Arts Fair, open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, December 10th, 2016, in the Great Hall at OCAD University, 100 McCaul Street in Toronto. Per the organizers:

OCAD University’s printmaking department presents the 32nd annual Book Arts Fair. Come and browse the unique handmade and crafted works by over 65 vendors! Book artists, printmakers, small publishers, students, professional artists, papermakers and printmaking suppliers.

The money raised by donation and raffle tickets goes to student awards and initiatives in the OCAD Printmaking Department. Suggested donation of $5.00 (or more!) at the door.

the Papertrail will have a couple of tables there, selling handmade paper, marbled paper, supplies for marbling and bookbinding, and books on various topics related to the book arts. New for us this year: for those of you into letterpress and e-mail addresses, we will be selling packs of @ signs in five sizes (8, 8 on 10, 10, 10 on 12, and 12 point).

Sorry for the short notice… Hope to see you there!

Posted in OCADU Book Arts Fair, Past Events, Us

The 2016 ATF Conference, Day 2

The second day of the conference was spent at Wells College, in Aurora, on the East shore of Cayuga Lake.

We started off with a hearty breakfast at the dining hall.

The dining hall, grand on the outside...

The dining hall, grand on the outside…

...and grand on the inside. This was actually a photo after lunch. Most of the people are ATF but in the lower left there are a handful of students around in the off-season.

…and grand on the inside. This was actually a photo after lunch. Most of the people are ATF but in the lower left there are a handful of students around for the off-season.

It was another dreadfully hot day, and many of the buildings we were in that day had no air conditioning, including this dining hall. I used more napkins mopping sweat than wiping my mouth.

Fortunately most of the business that day took place in a lecture hall in one of the newer buildings.

The lecture hall, just after first break, with Bob Magill preparing to talk about the Sterling Type Foundry

The lecture hall, just after first break, with Bob Magill preparing to talk about the Sterling Type Foundry

Our first session that morning had Greg Walters describing his adventures with his monster pivotal caster, casting 120- and 144-point type while cowering behind a shield. The machine doesn’t really deserve to be called a “pivotal” because it does not automatically close the mould as part of its cycle. The operator must close the mould, seat the matrix, and raise it up to the nozzle. Then a hydraulic cylinder pumps the type metal into the mould. Not so much the pressure, but the sheer volume the pump can produce along with the strong likelihood of leaks in the mould explain the need for the plexiglass shield.

Greg also discussed strategies to deal with the large air bubble which is trapped in the upper half of the mould cavity. Some strategies helped, others blew open the face of the type, yielding see-through type (two pieces of which were sold at the auction).

He had been using a jury-rigged clamp to hold the matrix to the mould, but while rummaging around his shop looking for something else he (or a visitor, I forget now) found the real matrix clamp sitting in the gear case of some other piece of equipment acquired on the same day as the monster pivotal.

Matrix holder for Greg's monster caster. The matrix is attached using screws to the large adapter plate.

Matrix holder for Greg’s monster caster. The matrix is attached using screws to the large light-coloured adapter plate (or perhaps that is actually a matrix…). To get the matrix tight enough to the mould Greg used a pipe on the capstan “handle” bolts to get enough torque. Similar force was needed to extract the matrix from type that included built-in kerns.

The next presenter was Ed Rayher (of Swamp Press), with An Archeology of Type. The archeology aspect came up in various ways. He presented some lettering from the tomb of Eurysaces the Baker in Rome, and also a project of his producing a revival of the Doves Type typeface. He also mentioned his work with Barbara Henry in developing an asemic (free of semantics, i.e. meaningless) font, where the printed result looks like lines of text but in fact do not contain any known letters, in effect going beyond Lorem Ipsum.

David MacMillan told us about the Nuernberger-Rettig Type-Maker, a slightly-improved pivotal caster. There are only five of these known to still exist: One is in storage at the Henry Ford Museum, and the other four at at Skyline Type Foundry. The improvements over a standard pivotal include a transmission that allows casting speed adjustment suitable to a wide range of type sizes, and a patented mould jet which leaves the jet attachment point inset into the foot of the type, eliminating the need to plow a foot groove to clean off the scar left from snapping off the jet. The type still had to be stacked by hand and dressed, however, just as with most pivotals. David’s presentation slides are available online.

After a short break, Bob Magill presented Dingbats and Ornaments: Is there a Future for Sterling Type Foundry? The Sterling Type Foundry was until recently run by Dave Churchman, who passed away earlier this year. Dave’s son, Andrew Churchman, has apparently taken on the task of (slowly) selling the contents of Dave’s (in)famous “Boutique de Junque” but it was not at first clear what would happen to the type foundry. Bob has come to the rescue, and will be continuing to run the foundry into the indefinite future.

The last presentation of the morning was from Stan Nelson, with the extremely long title Sorting Oneself Out, The Great ‘Tugalong’, A Fan of Heavy Metal, or Pulling One’s Weight; or Exploring the Fine Art of Shoehorning Too Much Stuff Into Too Little Space. He chronicled the construction of his new shop and the adventures and decisions involved in moving into it.

The group then returned to the sauna/dining hall for lunch and rehydration.

After lunch we were back in the comfort of the lecture hall for two more presentations. The first, by Bill Welliver, was A Retro Approach to Automated Type Casting. Type casting is pretty retro on its own, but this talk was about the retro nature of the automation. Bill presented several products from Monotype intended to stave off the death of hot metal due to the introduction of processes such as phototypesetting and computer-based composition systems. Although they were state-of-the-art at the time, they are certainly retro compared to modern systems. These systems and similar ones for linecasters to make them photoset text only added a few years to their lifetime.

The final presentation of the day was Saving the Dale Guild Typefoundry Artifacts from Dispersion: A Story of Distance in Time and Space, by Patrick Goossens, which chronicled how all the equipment from the Dale Guild typefoundry came into his possession. The Dale Guild foundry was created by Theo Rehak with equipment purchased from the auction at the closing of American Type Founders in 1992. After a few years, Dan Morris and Micah Currier purchased the foundry, keeping Theo on to mentor them in all aspects of type founding. Later Micah bought out Dan’s interest in the foundry and in 2013 decided to move it to his original stomping grounds in Salt Lake City. At that time some of the surplus equipment was sold to Patrick, and the remaining equipment was stored in a shipping container where it remained while Micah considered his options. In 2014 he decided to give up on the foundry and sold the whole container of equipment to Patrick. As a result all the Dale Guild equipment now resides in Patrick’s hands in Antwerp, Belgium.

The swap meet was next, in another of the non-air-conditioned buildings, but at least it was directly upstairs from the slightly cooler bar, The Well. I bought a few odd items, including a box of Monotype cellular sorts matrices.

An assortment of symbol and ornament mats in a nice box. The annotations inside the cover are completely irrelevant. The only mats I've sorted out so far are the @ signs in the top row.

An assortment of symbol and ornament mats in a nice box. The annotations inside the cover are completely irrelevant. The only mats I’ve sorted out so far are the @ signs in the top row.

The swap meet didn’t really take two hours so I took some time to wander about the campus a bit. I found their papermaking studio located in an ex-greenhouse attached to one of the buildings.

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Needless to say, it was not in use during this hot weather.

At the end of the swap meet we returned to the lecture hall for the ATF auction.

The afternoon ended with a visit to the Long Library to see a selection of Victor Hammer‘s punches and matrices. Victor is known, among other things, for producing the typeface American Uncial while he was teaching at Wells College during the 1940’s.

Some of Victor Hammer's punches and matrices. They were unfortunately behind glass and dimly lit, making for difficult photography.

Some of Victor Hammer’s punches and matrices. They were unfortunately behind glass and dimly lit, making for difficult photography.

After a buffet dinner at the dining hall, we had a tour of the Wells Book Arts Center. Most of the rooms were cramped preventing a single group tour so many people went ahead of the tour or stayed behind in some of the rooms that held items of particular interest.

As evening neared, people headed down to the lakeshore near the College boathouse where some took the opportunity to cool off with a swim in Cayuga Lake. We ended the day with a view of the sun setting across the lake.

Swimmers in the lake. Hot as I was, I'm not a strong swimmer so I stayed on the dock.

Swimmers in the lake. Hot as I was, I’m not a strong swimmer so I stayed on the dock.

Dramatic clouds make for a photogenic sunset

Dramatic clouds made for a photogenic sunset. The sunset was actually listed in the conference program and Richard Kegler was a bit concerned that it might be spoiled by overcast skies.

As I’m writing this three months after the event, I hope I didn’t get too many details wrong!

Posted in American Typecasting Fellowship, Conferences and Meet-ups, Kevin, Past Events

A product possibly useful to papermakers

I was in the local Costco today and I spotted this chopping block:

20161128cutting-board-at-costcoIt is a 2″ (2cm) thick end-grain chopping block. People who do their own fibre processing may find this useful for cutting or hand-beating plant fibres. I don’t know how well it would stand up to the abuse it would get, but it might be worth a try.

Posted in Pulp preparation, Useful gadgets and ideas

The 2016 ATF Conference, Day 1

The ATF conference started on Thursday, August 11th, with a flex day giving attendees several options:

I opted to attend the two technical sessions at the Bixler foundry.

Michael and Winifred Bixler run their foundry and private press in a beautiful old building on the northern outskirts of Skaneatales.

The Bixler type foundry

The Bixler type foundry

Read more ›

Posted in American Typecasting Fellowship, Conferences and Meet-ups, Kevin, Past Events

The 2016 ATF Conference

Last August I attended the 2016 American Typecasting Fellowship (ATF) conference held in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York along with about 50 other people, primarily from North America, but a few from further abroad. Here’s a photo of most of the gang, along with some of the hosts. This photo was taken after the closing banquet so a few people had to leave early and aren’t in the photo.

The conference was spread across several locations: Our central base of operations was in Auburn NY at the north end of Owasco Lake, with some opening tours in Rochester, a day at Wells College in Aurora on Cayuga Lake, and another day at Skaneateles on the north end of Skanealetes Lake.

I drove to the conference, with the air conditioner running full blast in the blistering heat that week, and stayed at the conference hotel in Auburn. The only real problem on the trip was the border crossing into New York at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. There was a long wait, with the traffic being backed up all the way from the border inspection area across the bridge into Ontario. I still have to come up with a way of describing my trip in a manner that doesn’t send the border guard off in the wrong thought direction—somehow the word “conference” seems to set off their Spidey senses and I then have to explain them back to the mundane actuality of the situation. Perhaps next time I’ll call it an “informal conference” for which they will of course ask me to explain my hedge words: only 50 people, most of whom already know each other, no one is paid for anything, sort of like a big family reunion!

I’ll be detailing each day in a separate upcoming post.

Posted in American Typecasting Fellowship, Conferences and Meet-ups, Kevin, Past Events

Blog (and website) more fixed

Warning: Extreme Web geek talk ahead!

Well, at the time of the last post I thought I had everything on our website working again, but I was wrong. There appears to be a bug in WordPress (which has nothing to do with our server change) that, if the link name for the post happens to start with the prefix of the path of the blog URL, the article cannot be found using its permalink. The URL to our blog is http://www.papertrail.ca/blog, so in the case of recent posts about the blog being broken and then fixed, whose link names are, for example, blog-fixed (so the full URL to the post is http://www.papertrail.ca/blog/index.php/blog-fixed), the WordPress code looks for a page whose link name is -fixed rather than blog-fixed (and fails to find it).

I worked around the problem by manually changing the the link name (“slug” in WP parlance), which is generated from the post title, from blog-something to xblog-something.

This had not been a problem previously because our old permalinks looked like http://www.papertrail.ca/blog/2016/11/09/blog-fixed, which includes the post date. The page link always starts with a year number which can never be equal to the blog path.

I tried searching the WP problem database but could not get a sufficiently specific search to determine if this was a known problem.

I also changed our static web pages (outside WP land) from XHTML to HTML5 because our new server can’t insert charset= modifiers into the Content-type HTML headers of the web request replies. The old files had the encoding in the <?xml ... ?> header but this was being ignored because the browser content-type was text/html rather than application/xhtml+xml. I could have fixed it by changing all the files to .xhtml extensions but I would have had to change all the internal links as well. Instead I removed the <?xml ... ?> header, added a <meta charset=.../> and changed the <!DOCTYPE from XHTML to <!DOCTYPE html> which implies HTML5.

Speaking of changing links, WP has another oddity. When you define things like menus, you can make the menu items link to a WP post, a WP page, or a “custom” link which is just a fixed URL. When you change the permalink format on your site options, the menus that link to posts and pages automatically produce the referenced URL in the new format. On the other hand, when you link from the content of one post or page (or comment) to another post or page, the link is always a fixed URL that does not change when the site’s permalink format is altered. The only way to correct this is to modify all the post, page, and comment text to change the URL in the links. I will eventually do this using a direct query to the underlying MySql database, but in the meantime, I have the web server configuration set to redirect old permalinks to the new permalink format using a 302 status. This will also benefit people who have their own bookmarks or links to specific articles.

As for the reason for all these changes, the system that hosts our web site has recently been upgraded from an unsupported old release of OpenBSD to a more recent one to ensure we could be up to date on security fixes. We had been using Apache as the web server program, but this is no longer available for OpenBSD. For a while the maintainers flirted with Nginx as a web server, but they also dumped that and went with a basic httpd that is very sparse in terms of configuration options.

Posted in About this blog, Kevin

Life Hack: Dishwasher Water Traps

We have a collections of plastic drinking cups, some from the dollar store, and other more stylish ones from Ikea. These are great for giving drinks to children because they aren’t too big, and more importantly they are unbreakable. But they have one irritating problem: their bases have a raised ring around the complete perimeter, and this holds a small puddle of water in the dishwasher.

original-cup

The result is, depending on how long you left things to dry, either a bunch of hard water scale left by the puddle, or water all over your clean and hitherto dry dishes if you grab the cup without noticing the puddle.

After putting up with this for a few years, I finally got around to doing something about it. Using a coarse burr in my Dremel, I cut four notches in the rings on the bottom of the cups, giving a path for most of this water to drain.

notched-cup

The remaining water is much more likely to be dried up by the time you unload the clean dishes, and the small amount of water leaves a proportionally small amount of scale.

A single-cut burr should be used rather than a rasp to give the cleanest cut and reduce fuzziness. The cuts should go completely through the ring, and although I put four notches per cup, more (perhaps 6 or 8) would be better since it would mean there would always be a notch near the lowest part of the ring. I guess if you don’t have a Dremel, you could cut the notches with a round file.

notch-closeup

The cups are injection moulded, so I have to wonder why they aren’t made with notches already in the ring.

Posted in Personal, Us

Blog fixed (and a cute kitten)

It has been a while since I posted to this blog, so now that our server is all updated and I have WordPress working again I have a bit of catching up to do.

For now, I offer cute kitten pictures. What blog (or YouTube channel) is complete without some?

One of my co-workers (at my day job) rescued three kittens from a feral colony near our office in August. All three of them had orange striped coats and I couldn’t tell them apart. They were still on milk and I have a YouTube video of one of them being fed while making the most darling mewing noises. Since then all three have been adopted into proper homes.

img_20160802_123305img_20160802_123310

Posted in About this blog, Fauna, Kevin, Other people

Blog broken

Our blog is currently broken. You can see the summary of recent posts but individual posts and pages return server errors.

We are switching to a new server, replacing Apache with OpenBSD’s httpd which is far less versatile in terms of configuration options. Hopefully we can get things working again soon, although we might have to change the url format for individual pages (thus breaking any saved links you might have to individual articles).

Posted in About this blog