A roomful of Letterpress printers

published by Fran Shea

It was everything I imagined. Except better, because of the chicken shots. Yum! 

Mary Bruno organized the event in honor of Amos Kennedy’s timely arrival. As far as I could tell, Amos is not related to THE Kennedy family. There were certain clues, like: He did not share that distinctive/made up accent or that glamorous head of hair. Also, he is black.

Anyway, Amos was there and we hugged like old friends. There was much talk, naturally, of printing presses. Mary Bruno ended up breaking a beer bottle and using it as a weapon – apparently her “street cred” was at stake. Boy was I glad to get out of there with only minor injuries. I wish I could say the same for Jen. Please send flowers and meals to our headquarters.

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Two St. Paul printers showed up : Fred Petters of Vandalia Street Press and Bill Moran of Blinc PublishingBill was nice. Fred ate off of other people’s plates. I could go on and on but why should I when I have this amazing photograph that perfectly captured the evening?

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And this is where Fran and Jen learn to use their new Heidelberg

published by Fran Shea

Oh, the joy of leaning over a giant machine that has the potential to crush my hands and create such beauty!

I think I felt joy. Or panic? In any case, I felt some sort of feeling while leaning over the New Press. Karl (the previous owner) had explained, really clearly, the 1,000 things to know – why couldn’t I remember them?? Knobs, pulls, blades, grippers, clutch levers, friskets, sucker bars, rollers, toggles, gears, pins, springs… they all seemed to get tangled up in my mind.

Oh, so tangled!

Just like a rat king.rat-king

That’s what happens when the tail of one thought gets covered in feces and the tail of another thought gets stuck to it… and the tail of another thought gets stuck to the other thoughts. It’s all very messy and usually ends up in some Dutch chimney.

Anyway, here’s a snippet of our lesson:

Vintage Indie

published by Fran Shea

This is Gabreial Wyatt —>

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I think we would totally have been friends in high school. She would have called us “top-secret friends”. I was told (by my “top-secret friends”) that “top-secret friends” are better than regular friends. Sure, they don’t go anywhere in public with you, or sit next to you at lunch, or acknowledge your presence – but, that doesn’t mean anything.

Gabreial keeps a blog about all things vintage AND indie. She interviewed me because we are such good “top-secret friends”.

Bless her heart.

-33° in Brainerd

published by Fran Shea

That’s where I am. Will I ever be able to get back to Minneapolis? Stay tuned.

And, just because I’m a little obsessed with the weather, I gathered some very important figures. – Record low temperatures in The United States of America:

State Temp. Date Station Elevation
Alabama -27 Jan. 30, 1966 New Market 760
Alaska -80 Jan. 23, 1971 Prospect Creek 1,100
Arizona -40 Jan.  7, 1971 Hawley Lake 8,180
Arkansas -29 Feb. 13, 1905 Pond 1,250
California -45 Jan. 20, 1937 Boca 5,532
Colorado -61 Feb.  1, 1985 Maybell 5,920
Connecticut -32 Feb. 16, 1943 Falls Village 585
Delaware -17 Jan. 17, 1893 Millsboro 20
Florida – 2 Feb. 13, 1899 Tallahassee 193
Georgia -17 Jan. 27, 1940 Mauna Kea 13,770
Idaho -60 Jan. 18, 1943 Island Park Dam 6,285
Illinois -36 Jan.  5, 1999 Congerville 722
Indiana -36 Jan. 19, 1994 New Whiteland 785
Iowa -47 Feb.  3, 1996* Elkader 770
Kansas -40 Feb. 13, 1905 Lebanon 1,812
Kentucky -37 Jan. 19, 1994 Shelbyville 730
Louisiana -16 Feb. 13, 1899 Minden 194
Maine -48 Jan. 19, 1925 Van Buren 458
Maryland -40 Jan. 13, 1912 Oakland 2,461
Massachusetts -35 Jan. 12, 1981 Chester 640
Michigan -51 Feb.  9, 1934 Vanderbilt 785
Minnesota -60 Feb.  2, 1996 Tower 1,430
Mississippi -19 Jan. 30, 1966 Corinth 420
Missouri -40 Feb. 13, 1905 Warsaw 700
Montana -70 Jan. 20, 1954 Rogers Pass 5,470
Nebraska -47 Feb. 12, 1899 Camp Clarke 3,700
Nevada -50 Jan.  8, 1937 San Jacinto 5,200
New Hampshire -47 Jan. 29, 1934 Mt. Washington 6,288
New Jersey -34 Jan.  5, 1904 River Vale 70
New Mexico -50 Feb.  1, 1951 Gavilan 7,350
New York -52 Feb. 18, 1979* Old Forge 1,720
North Carolina -34 Jan. 21, 1985 Mt. Mitchell 6,525
North Dakota -60 Feb. 15, 1936 Parshall 1,929
Ohio -39 Feb. 10, 1899 Milligan 800
Oklahoma -27 Jan. 18, 1930 Watts 958
Oregon -54 Feb. 10, 1933* Seneca 4,700
Pennsylvania -42 Jan.  5, 1904 Smethport est. 1,500
Rhode Island -25 Feb.  5, 1996 Greene 425
South Carolina -19 Jan. 21, 1985 Caesars Head 3,100
South Dakota -58 Feb. 17, 1936 McIntosh 2,277
Tennessee -32 Dec. 30, 1917 Mountain City 2,471
Texas -23 Feb.  8, 1933* Seminole 3,275
Utah -69 Feb.  1, 1985 Peter’s Sink 8,092
Vermont -50 Dec. 30, 1933 Bloomfield 915
Virginia -30 Jan. 22, 1985 Mountain Lake 3,870
Washington -48 Dec. 30, 1968 Mazama 2,120
West Virginia -37 Dec. 30, 1917 Lewisburg 2,200
Wisconsin -55 Feb.4,   1996 Couderay 1,300
Wyoming -66 Feb.  9, 1933 Riverside 6,650

AND before we start killing and eating each other, we are entertaining ourselves by throwing boiling water into the cold air.

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0°, Hydraulics and a Hair Dryer

published by Fran Shea

Why is it that the one time I leave my house something awesome happens?? Jack drove the Heidelberg Windmill down from Wahpeton, North Dakota this morning. Drove it right down to our fancy studio.

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I’m in Brainerd not running around the house in my underwear and Jen is back at ZP headquarters. Who knew (Jack the mover knew) that the press was going to be delivered TODAY? Apparently, the hydraulic part of the pallet jack (not Jack the mover) didn’t love the 0°. I guess it was frozen and I’m no expert but that seems like a setback. Jen called me wondering where she could find a hair dryer. I don’t know why she wanted to style her hair but I’m not going to judge. Apparently, Jen’s beautiful hair did the trick because the new press is safe and sound in the SW corner of the shop.

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It’s ART!! DO YOU HEAR ME?? ART!!

published by Fran Shea

Alphabetically speaking, Zeichen follows Warhol in the Room and Board dictionary. Andy Warhol and Zeichen Press sit side-by-side on the Wall Art page – I don’t want to speak for Mr. Warhol BUT I’ll bet he is thrilled with the proximity… This might be just the thing to jump-start his career… Good luck, Andy!! You weird, prolific little man!!

So, back on the R&B website – here’s what the description DOESN’T say:

Produced entirely by hand using
vintage (super old) printing equipment,
Zeichen Press creates this letterpress
design exclusively for us in their
Minneapolis studio. Actually, they call
it a studio but really it was once the
family garage – an issue that nearly
cost the owner (Fran Shea) her marriage,
and more importantly, the garage.
I mean, studio. Using a centuries-old
manual printing method, they set salvaged,
antique type by hand in limited print runs
to give the work a one-of-a-kind quality
that feels both modern and classic.

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°
They edited that copy down to the nub! But I suppose they know best.

Have a look at these photos: GASP! They make me want to buy one of my own prints!

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The strong would survive the winter. The weak would, of course, be eaten.

published by Fran Shea

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The Long Winter is the true tale of a Minnesota family surviving one of the most brutal Winters in our recorded history. Trapped in the house – day after day after day – the blizzard makes it impossible to see out the window or even walk out to the barn without getting lost. Good ol’ Pa rigs up a rope to follow, he is always coming up with some creative solution! Ma follows that rope because Pa finds himself trapped in a ditch by the creek. The wood pile dwindles to nothing and the family is forced to twist hay into little bundles – they would burn these in the cast-iron stove to heat their little house. … Tough, brown bread is the only food left to eat.

Or is it?

What if that was on the jacket flap? I’d totally read that book.

It’s time for Christmas rejects!

published by Fran Shea

Gosh, that’s a scary movie! Those poor misfit toys… the choo-choo with the square wheels, the pistol that shoots jelly, the effeminate jack-in-the-box…  I think the jack-in-the-box and that little dentist-elf would make a cute couple.

Okay, so I keep trying to design something to print on these FIVE THOUSAND BEVERAGE COASTERS that we have lying around. I guess no one cares about preserving the shine and luster of their finished furniture.

I think that’s barbaric.

Maybe they think it sends the wrong message? I don’t. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to booze it up through the 12 days of Christmas. In fact, it is acceptable all year round IF you set your drink on one of our beverage coasters. (Was that some sort of plug?? Yes. Here’s a link: AND here’s one I designed just for Touchpoint Retail. It has the recipe for a candy cane martini right on it. Isn’t that handy?? coaster-for-touchpoint-450x229

They decided to go with a card design from the Zeichen Press line but JUST TO BE DIFFICULT (I mean, sui generis.) they had us print it on an oversized SQUARE coaster. But I must admit, it’s pretty darn nice.

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