Posts in The Beast

Free-Range Letterpress Shop

published by Fran Shea

It never bothered me that the lenses in my glasses were rubber cemented into place and the rubber cement collected sand. I ditched those glasses under a fold in my beach towel so I could run down to the ocean and freely forage for low-tide sea creatures.

It was a free-range life! I wasn’t tethered by social convention! Or hygiene! Fast forward 35 years and I’m still leading a free-range life. Not tethered by social convention! Or hygiene! Today, our press lurched and lunged as if possessed but it was nothing a plastic shim couldn’t fix. See, free-range living!

That’s a filthy, oil-soaked floor and Jen throws cards to the ground when she’s angry. She leads a free-range lifestyle too! THAT’S HOW WE MAKE IT WORK.

(FYI: This is how our beloved C&P looks when Jen isn’t angry:)

Speaking of free-range, I made a new card for all of you (non-vegetarian) LOVERS out there.

Leather and Milk and Meat

published by Fran Shea

Every few weeks Paper Source orders the same poopy cards from us.sleep-eat-poop-orangecrapThis makes us happy because there is no faster way to evangelize than through a chain of shops that snakes its way through the country.

Our message? 

Isn’t it obvious by now? Spread (our idea of) letterpress goodness and joy like spackle into every dark crevice on this planet.

No big deal.

This card:u-r-useful-and-delichas nothing to do with fecal matter and so we were surprised (and delighted) to see it on our latest Paper Source order.

Perhaps the following dream was a premonition?:

There were no toilets — but there was a shower scene. The light over the C&Pc-and-p-shop-2012had become a shower head and I had become naked. I prayed that nobody would walk through (why didn’t I just lock it?) the shop door while I took my unnecessary (and might I add: gratuitous?) shower next to my printing press.

But someone did walk in.

subway-ghost

I guess his name is Vincent Schiavelli. He was hiding behind the Heidelbergheidelberg-winter-2012with his cow. He wasn’t smiling. I woke up.

The End

iFran 1.0

published by Fran Shea

Twice a year Zeichen Press releases a batch of new cards. Twice a year Jen and I hold a top-secret meeting in the Zeichen Press Headquarters and discuss which cards should be included in the release. Decisions are made, tears are shed, hair is pulled.

Printing took place this week and, luckily, the temperature hovered around 97°. Jen loves printing in a sauna. I stayed in the shop while she printed, it was an act of solidarity and I’m sure it did not go unnoticed. I sat on one of the metal stools because I wanted to experience what it was like to sit on a stove-top.

There are more top-secret meetings/fist-fights during the printing process. We need to decide which color paper to print the card on and (hold onto your hats) which color envelope to pair with the card.card-compare

Should it be a Green Apple envelope or a Berrylicious envelope?? These are tough decisions but we have to make them.

And don’t think that you could just do what we do, it takes nerves of steel and hearts of gold.

Here are the new cards: These are so amazing, they may melt your faces:new-cards-garage-2012

Man Up

published by Fran Shea

Sometimes a man’s manliness must be recognized. Manly is a term often reserved for a lumberjack, firefighter, or bounty-hunter. A narrow and unfortunate caricature. Why not a goatherd? Or glass-blower? Or gemologist?

Anyman* that strides confidently into their chosen arena (office, field, arcade, classroom, rubber raft, bowling alley, butcher shop, grist mill) and owns it is, in my opinion, a beast.

Give them this small token: (They will grunt, nod, excuse themselves, and go into the bathroom to shed a single tear.)youre-a-beast-color

*Did I make that up?

Wee-whined (rewind)

published by Fran Shea

Jen and I often look back on the birth of Zeichen Press the same way any mother looks back on any birth. Sure, there was blood and, yes, there were tears but there was another realization: there is a latex glove filled with crushed ice in my mesh underpants.

The first days of Zeichen Press were spent huddled around our Poco no. 0.

The Poco has a patent date of 1910 and weighs in at a mere 210#. That makes it the oldest and also the lightest press in the shop. It is, to date, the only press that has caused me (bodily) harm.

Ouch! That’s a doozy!

Never trip over, and land on, a cast iron press on the floor. I documented the injury because of the lawsuit that I’m going to file against the makers of that monster. I just have to build a time-machine and drive my Model-T to Chicago.

The first thing ever printed on the Poco was this:

I’ve seen better prints made with a potato. 

We outgrew that little baby pretty quickly and moved on to something I’m hoping to one day never catch my hand in.

Or if I do, I hope to have something sharp in my pocket that I can use to cut my mangled hand free.

Seven Pounds is the name of the movie not the weight of my head

published by Fran Shea

About a jillion years ago, I was contacted by some Hollywood set designer – she wanted to know if I had extra letterpress “JUNK JUNK JUNK” for a new movie starring Rosario Dawson and Will Smith. Wait. What?! Trembling, I clutched my Fresh Prince of Bel Air collection to my chest and replied, “Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, I could Fed Ex some stuff to you guys – I won’t charge extra for the dust.” (Followed by cool and knowing laughter). What a comfortable rapport! I was talking TO Hollywood. Maybe they’d ask me to audition for the movie! The movie… Maybe Rosario Dawson needed an understudy… or a body double?

rosario-dawson-450x345

We could be twins!judy-gets-a-bath

I asked the set designer when they’d like to fly me out, explaining that my schedule was flexible enough to accommodate movie- shoots, sightseeing, and pool-parties. She told me she’d have her people call my people.

ANYWAY, it turns out they were able to pull the set together without my JUNK JUNK JUNK and Rosario politely declined my offer — we’re still totally friends

…So I finally watched The Movie last night. Ummm, Will Smith can fix my press anytime. Is that my review? Is that all I have to say? … Uhh, Rosario was convincingly ill and I bawled like a baby. There. Happy?? OH, and the garage-studio was super cute and perfect.

PS: Strangely, Rosario’s character ALSO nicknamed her press The Beast. What?! c-and-p-shop-2012

Our biggest custom customer: Trader Joe’s

published by Fran Shea

The Trader Joe’s Card Chick called and asked us to do some custom work for them.

I was like, “get in line lady, it’s not like Consumer Reports ranked Trader Joe’s the second-best supermarket chain in the nation.” And she was like, “yeah, they did.” And I was like, “I knew that, I was just testing you.”

Even without my lucky historical period costume we were able to produce some winners. (My teacher used to say, “we are all winners when we don’t use drugs” but I think she was using the word ‘we’ in the royal sense).

We gave nine cards to The Card Chick, she selected three to show to TJ’s and TJ’s is going to produce all three. They will be in the stores in March. They’ll be offset printing them, I feel good about that because I’m sure that Jen and I would be fingerless if we had to hand feed 80,000 cards into the jaws of The Beast.

*not a bill***make it a double.redwhatever congratulations

Design and letterpress for dummies.

published by Fran Shea

I’m the dummy, not you. Or maybe you are? Only you can answer that. So, here we are. One, possibly two, dummies. Maybe you are interested in design, or letterpress, or both. Maybe you like funny things. My studio (Zeichen Press) does all (not all) it can to combine design, letterpress, and funny. We happen to have cornered the market on that little tripartite. As if teaching myself to use tons of antiquated letterpress equipment isn’t geeky enough, I’ll also drop annoying words like, “tripartite” and “antiquated”. Even that phrase, “cornered the market” should be erased. Too late, I said it, it’s done, I refuse to censor myself. Hence the divorce. I’m kidding. I’m separated. I’m not separated, I’m happily married to a separatist. Did I say separatist? I meant, Septembrist. shop-cp-reprexcuts-printers-blocks