We set the type, letter by letter, picking up the cold metal squares and placing them upside down and backwards into the “composing stick” which looks a little bit like those metal contraptions used to measure your feet at the shoe store.
As a member of the board at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, I get to take workshops from time to time and this was "Introduction to Letterpress."
Our first assignment was to pick two words, then choose a typeface and then letter by letter build our words. So, off I went browsing the heavy drawers of metal and wooden type feeling somehow comforted by these old, once ignored, now precious letters.
I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired so I decided to make it easy and set the type for my first and last name. That’s two words, I figured. And because I’ve been planning a revamp of my website, I wanted to see my name in a new typeface.
As a sidenote, I have a long, complicated history with my name. I was actually born with a completely different name but at birth my grandmother nicknamed me “Gigi” and then when my parents divorced, I asked my mother if I could use my stepfather’s last name “Rosenberg” so that she and I could have the same last name. My mother said that yes, I could change my name, but we’d have to lie to my father about it. One day, when I was with him, he discovered and… well that’s another story.
I placed the letters of my name as instructed into the composing stick and carried it expectantly to my teacher. I’d assumed that I would print my name on a card at one of the presses and that would be that. It would be my own private moment with those two words that make up my “found name."
Instead, the teacher instructed me and then all the students to put our two words all together into one “frame” and explained we’d be printing all the words at once onto one sheet of paper.
As it turned out, I was the only person who chose to typeset my name. Here I had thought I’d have a private moment with my hard won name and instead I was possibly coming off as a raving egomaniac.
The resulting “class project” read like a found poem or fortune cookie message written just for me. Are these my instructions for 2015? See photo.
“Create art, Gigi Rosenberg” is a pretty great place to start my year. I’m not sure what a Volkswagen (which was my first car), merry, Vera & Charlie, and type love will come to mean. But perhaps more will be revealed as this year unfolds.
Banner photo by Amador Loureiro