Blog

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  • The Portland Project

    Good things take time. Back in September of 2011, my good friend and Hamilton Artistic Board member, Nick Sherman came to me with a proposal. Via email, he introduced me to his friend Jim Coudal of Field Notes with the idea of having us print a note book for them. I loved the idea but was daunted by the volume; possibly 15,000 to 18,000 covers run in 2 colors. Now, fall is when we intensely prepare for our annual Wayzgoose and there was no way we could get the run in by autumn's edition. Even so, the only large format press I had available for the run was a Vandercook 320 and cranking prints one at a time did not sound like a great idea. Since both Jim Coudal and I were so busy, we agreed to re-visit the project later.

    In April of 2014, the conversation began again after a chance meeting with Aaron Draplin in Minneapolis a few months earlier. He was extremely interested in the idea and his desire to support Hamilton was encouraging. We invited him to come and speak at the museum last summer and we...

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  • The Idea of Building 18 Display Cabinets

    How I found the museum

    I was looking at Wisconsin sites on the web and found one about interesting places to see around Manitowoc. I never heard of wood type and the history of that industry, so I looked at the Hamilton site and recorded the address. A year later I looked again and the museum was moving. They had work weekends where volunteers move and sort things. This would be a good way to learn what wood type is and why anyone would have such a museum.

    I drove up Friday and slept in the van in the parking lot. People showed up and I went in the museum. We got our work assignments to move cabinets from all over into the store area. I was having a lot of fun with pallet jacks and furniture dollies. We had lunch in Two Rivers at a street fest so I had a chance to look at the Hamilton factory.

    By Sunday when our job was finished, I knew Jim, the Director, Stephanie, Assistant Director and some volunteers. And I saw the entire museum space. They have an overhead crane in the...

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  • An Intern Update

    What a whirlwind these past few weeks have been! Before you know it, it will be spring. These past weeks we have been hard at work, bringing out type cases that had been in storage and cleaning them up for display. Hamilton has been blessed with a generous benefactor, who has created over a dozen of new type display cases. This wonderful gift will enable us to display more of the Grahm Lee collection than ever before.

    Upcoming in the Gallery, March 7th until April 30th, we will have the Russian Civil War Posters from the Cellini Collection. It will be a stunning exhibition, focusing on the posters from 1918-1923, with bold colors and amazing design. These beautiful originals are amazingly preserved, almost as if they just came off press and sat in a drawer waiting for this exhibit. Each of the posters are lithographs, a printing method in which an image is drawn with wax or grease on a smooth metal or stone surface and then treated with gum arabic and acid solution. To print the image, the...

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  • Wood Type Archaeology: Motive Power

    On my most recent trip to Two Rivers and the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, I rigged up a one-horsepower electric motor to the die stamping machine the Hamilton Manufacturing Company used to make decorative wood type border during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I was hopeful this motor would be sufficient to power the machine through its stamping action. It takes a fair amount of force to drive a stamping die into end-grain maple blocks, and the smaller motor I had tried in early January was not up to the task.

    Motorizing the die stamping machinery is a vital precursor to the experimental work I am doing with the machine as part of my thesis research in the Industrial Archaeology program at Michigan Technological University. When the stamping machine was installed and in operation in the Hamilton Manufacturing Company’s type shop a century and more ago, it would have been in constant motion. The machine has no throw-off lever or clutch mechanism of...

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  • Meet the New Intern

    Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum is one of the finest gems in our community. Originally from the Manitowoc area, I always knew about the awesome things that Hamilton does. Little did I know that when I went to college, many other artists would know about them too! I am very privileged to be finishing up my last semester of college at UW - Stevens Point by performing a semester long internship with Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. I have visited many excellent museums, galleries and arts organizations but I chose to work with Hamilton this semester because of the incredible work they do, its delightful staff and the opportunity to stay close to home. During the next few months, I will be sharing some of the work we have been doing at Hamilton!

    During the past two weeks I was thrilled to get back on a printing press, and had some fun designing a new...

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  • In the Woodshop: Learning as we go along

    Mardell Doubek, David Carpenter, and I have now been working together since July to learn how to cut wood type on the pantograph. We started out with long grain scrap wood and have now “graduated” to end grain maple. The difference between the two woods is like night and day not only in appearance but in terms of cutting ease. It is now a pleasure, instead of a chore, to cut type.

    While we felt ready to cut the real stuff, we knew we had a limited stock of processed wood to go along with our amateur skills. For those reasons, we decided to start with ornaments in a variety of sizes and shapes. The ultimate goal was to have something to sell not only at the 2014 Wayzgoose but online and in the gift shop. (The ornaments are available for sale now in the store.)

    What quickly became apparent is that the act of cutting on the pantograph is just a small part of the entire wood type...

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  • Hamilton Holiday Gift Guide

    Who needs A, B, and O when you have coffee running through your veins? Each of these letterpress prints is unique with this inking technique. For the java junkie in your life (& maybe order an extra for yourself while you're at it!)

    The best gifts for the graphic designers, printers, or history lovers in your life. Get your holiday treats here at Hamilton, just in time for Christmas!

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  • Meet a Volunteer: Bob Mueller

    Bob Mueller is one of the museum’s longest serving volunteers. He has been here since 1995 before the museum was even open! He began volunteering upon retirement from Hamilton’s and helped move, unpack and setup the museum at its original site in the factory complex on Jefferson Street. If you’re wondering about those early days and what it was like to help create a museum from scratch, he’s your guy!

    Bob is Wisconsin born and bred. He grew up in Fort Atkinson and Appleton, attended Marquette University, attended the seminary, and married soon thereafter. He joined the Navy in the late 1950’s and taught at the Naval Amphibious Base in San Diego. In 1963, when his military service was complete, a job in lab equipment sales was waiting for him at Hamilton’s. He eventually moved into project management and ended his career at Hamilton’s with a total of 34 years which includes a 2 year return to the job from 2003-2005.

    In Two Rivers, Bob and his first...

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  • Meet a Volunteer: Darlene Guehlstorf

    The museum is known and loved worldwide for its fabulous collections, hands-on studios and workshops, exceptional events, and stunning printmaking. But the day to day running of the museum - the giving of tours, manning of the front desk, housekeeping, and other mundane but necessary tasks– could not happen without a group of dedicated volunteers. This post is the first in a series of blog posts highlighting those volunteers, the unsung heroes, that help make the museum the magical place it has become.

    Darlene Guehlstorf has been volunteering at the museum since her retirement from Hamilton’s in 2001. She started out at the original museum on Jefferson Street where she performed many of the aforementioned tasks. Her specialty though was creating woodtype nameplates used by Hamilton office employees. She could often be found diligently staining and gluing right-reading woodtype at her huge work table while simultaneously keeping an eye on museum happenings.

    Darlene is a lifelong...

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  • Drawing a Machine

    Recently, I spent most of a week at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum drawing a machine. An industrial manufacturing machine with a cast iron body and pair of heavy machined flywheels. When it was in active use in the Hamilton Manufacturing Co. factory, it was motivated by means of an overhead driveshaft, a leather belt, and a wooden three-speed pulley.

    The machine was used to make decorative wood type border pieces for embellishing posters and other large printed materials. In contrast to wood type letters, which Hamilton’s type cutters rendered in blocks of end-grain rock maple using air-driven, pantograph-mounted routers, wood type border was made using this machine — a reciprocating die press which impressed patterns into end-grain wood, leaving the printing surface in relief.

    The Hamilton Museum is fortunate that there are former Hamilton Manufacturing Co. employees still living who can share their firsthand knowledge of the...

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  • In the Woodshop: The Training has Begun

    Recently, Mardell Doubek – one of the last pantograph operators from the original Hamilton wood shop – in conjunction with the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum, was awarded a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board to participate in the Folk Arts Apprenticeship program. The purpose of the program is to help prevent native crafts from dying out by providing funding for the master craftsperson to train an apprentice. Mardell, as the mastercraftwoman, has accepted me as her apprentice. My goal is to learn as much as I can over the next year about the art and craft of cutting wood type with the ultimate goal of training a new batch of pantograph operators. Thus far, we’ve located scrap wood – don’t want to use the good stuff! - in the bowels of the museum storage area, sawed it down into 6, 12 and 18 line pieces, and have been practicing machine set-up – a very tedious, time-consuming process. One important by-product has been learning how to use the saws correctly. David...

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  • The Museum hosts the APA Wayzgoose

    The Amalgamated Printers’ Association will be holding their annual Wayzgoose at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum this year the weekend of June 19-21st, 2014 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. The APA consists of both professional and amateur letterpress printers, whose emphasis is on the exchange of members’ letterpress printing and information on sources of equipment and better printing practices. This Wayzgoose is a three-day affair and includes an auction, a flea market of printers’ treasures, tours of the museum, and workshops with great presenters like Rick von Holdt, Jessica Spring, Jen Farrell, Jim Horton, Scott Moore, Melinda Stockwell, and Brad Vetter (and more!). A major highlight of this gathering is visiting with other kindred spirits who love letterpress.

    Registration is now open to the public as well as APA members. Please use this site to find all the...

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  • Aaron Draplin to speak at our 1st Annual Shareholder's Meeting

    Hamilton Wood Type is proud to announce that designer Aaron Draplin will be featured as our keynote speaker for our 1st annual Shareholder's Meeting. On Saturday July 19 the museum will be open for hands-on printing sessions, hobnobbing with your fellow shareholders and Aaron's talk at 5pm. You must be a Charter Member to attend this event and you can register here.

    Why should you become a Charter Member? Because Hamilton Wood Type is a member-supported museum. The classes we offer and the merchandise we sell help make ends meet but it's our members who help the museum thrive. Our Charter Membership is a two-year membership that costs less than $5.00 per month over a two-year period. Please consider joining today.

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  • Neenah and Hamilton friends close in on $30,000 raised by The Beauty of Letterpress campaign

    Neenah Paper and The Beauty of Letterpress campaign are in their final push to raise $30,000 to help the museum get established in our new building. With only $600 remaining to go this is your chance to show some letterpress love and help Hamilton Wood Type. You can contribute here.

    The nearly $30,000 raised to support the Museum means many things. The first is a chance to protect the world's largest collection of type. The collection will not only be safe but on display with an opportunity to teach the methods that made Hamilton the nation's largest wood type maker. Additionally, the practice of making type will be reborn as we start up the original pantograph machines and bring in the retired type cutters to share their craft with new apprentices. Platen presses and show card presses will...

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  • Adventures in Brayer Calligraphy

    Mark Simonson laying down letters at the Gutenberg Museum.

    I was a bit reluctant to take up an inking roller to do some "roller calligraphy" last spring while on a tour through Europe with other type and printing geeks called Travels In Typography.

    Most of the calligraphy I've done was way back in college when I was studying graphic design, and very little since then. I'm just not that into it, which may seem strange coming from a type designer, but to me they are completely different things. Being good at one doesn't necessarily make you good at the other; sometimes quite the opposite, I think.

    Anyway, back to the tour. When we visited Mainz, Germany, home of Johannes Gutenberg, father of movable type, we had the pleasure of meeting Gundela Kleinholdermann, who is a volunteer at the Gutenberg Museum's Druckladen (print shop). Her specialty is what she calls roller calligraphy. Instead of the usual brush or pen, she uses inking rollers, the kind you use to ink a letterpress proofing press.

    Inking rollers come in all...

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  • Back to Blogging

    Now that the museum is open in the new location we have started to get back into our rhythms. Sometimes the pattern is lock-up, trip, print, while other times it flows with the coming and goings of visitors. We are happy to share what is happening at the museum, from exciting upcoming events to interesting finds as we catalog the collection. Thanks for following the museum!

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  • Help Hamilton Move: Unpacking in a New Location

    We are busy here at the new museum location.We are almost entirely out of the original location. It is strange and sad to see it so empty. However, the new location will allow us to expand in many ways. It doubles the amount of space the museum occupies, which means more of the collection will be on display, we will have dedicated residency studios, and we can develop a classroom and library. In May we will be preparing the space with new paint, new lights, and doing a few repairs. Then in June and July we hope to have many volunteers who will help us set up the new pressrooms, displays, and classrooms. We can't wait to reopen and start printing again.

    If you would like to help us unpack in our new location, at 1816 10th Street, Two Rivers, WI, please join us for one of our 'Move Events'. This is your chance to help re-open the new Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. The museum is closed to the public for tours and general admittance, but you are welcome to join us as a volunteer as the...

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  • More Packing

    We have been busy packing since the beginning of the year. And now our first truck load has gone to the new location which is only 10 blocks away from the original location at 1816 10th Street, Two Rivers, Wisconsin! You can see how many of our Hamilton friends and family have helped up pack and get to our new home.

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  • Packing up the Museum

    For the last month we have been packing up one of the largest collections of wood type in the world. Here you can see what it takes to pack up 1.5 million pieces of type, a large collection of presses and machines, and many patterns for making wood type. While it takes a lot of boxes and bubble wrap, it also takes a lot of hands. Thank you to everyone that has made the trip to Two Rivers to help wrap, pack, and move this wonderful collection. We couldn't do it without you! This move will make us a stronger organization and we cannot wait to reopen and begin printing, teaching, and giving tours again.


    Click on an image below to view more.

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  • Help Hamilton Move

    If you would like to help the museum pack and move to a new location please join us for one of our 'Move Events'. The museum is closed to the public for tours and general admittance, but you are welcome to join us as a volunteer as the museum goes forward with their move to a new location in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Check our calendar for the latest 'Move Event' dates. If you can't make any of the dates we currently have scheduled please check back, because we will constantly be updating the calendar. We have done such a wonderful job of raising money for the move because of our many supporters. This is just one more way to ensure that Two River's, printing, and design history will be preserved.

    We will be having both weekend and weekday teams for packing, moving, and unpacking in the new location. Each 'Move Event' has a team leader and (hopefully) a hearty team of volunteers. Teams of volunteers...

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  • Last Hamilton Hurrah

    On December 29th, 2012 the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum hosted an open house with printing, type cutting demonstrations, and a celebration of the legacy of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company.

    Thank you to everyone who could join us for our last open day in the museum's original location. We have a lot of work ahead of us with packing one of the premier wood type collections in the world at over 1.5 million pieces of wood type, but the event instilled even more hope in our hearts. The support from both around the world and here locally reminded us that we have a big wood type family. For those of you who couldn't make it please enjoy the wonderful photographs taken by Jeff Dawson of the local Lester Public Library. To see more please visit the flickr set. Please join us when we celebrate our reopening in our new Two Rivers location, which is yet to be announced.

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  • Hamilton & Mama's Sauce: Love Letters

    To help raise money and awareness for the museum the printers over at Mama's Sauce have dreamed up a fundraiser that unites lovely letters and great designers. They're releasing a set of 7 letterpress printed alphabet coasters inspired by the legacy and craft of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.

    Love Letters is made with French Paper, includes A, E, I, O, U, &, and Y. Don't miss out on a project with such a fine roster of designers: Fuzzco, Justin MezzellAaron Draplin, Dana TanamachiJon Contino, Jessica HischeRoss Moody.  These beautiful designs and their kindness has made us swoon. Get your pre-order on over at their website! They are currently taking pre-orders with completed sets expected to ship 1/25/13.

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  • Hamilton Fundraisers around the Country

    Friends of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum have banded together to help us in our time of need. Currently there will be two fundraisers on December 15th, 2012 one in Chicago and the other in Brooklyn. A great time to come together, get some great holiday gifts, and support the museum. Information is below, but if you would like to know more please contact those organizations directly.

    Center for Book and Paper Arts
    Columbia College Chicago
    1104 S. Wabash
    2nd Fl Chicago, IL 60605

    Please join us for an open house, demonstrations, and print sale with all proceeds benefiting the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum.

    As you may know, the museum is being evicted from their current historic space and is asking for your support to make their impending move possible. Please consider donating some of your time and some of your printed material into making the dream of a new facility come true.

    There's no better time to spread...

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  • Hamilton Wood Type must move, urgently needs funding

    From our press release that was posted today:
    Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum will no longer reside in the building that bears its name. The property owners recently informed the museum that the 1619 Jefferson St. building in Two Rivers, Wisconsin will close and must be vacated, perhaps as early as February 2013.

    Hamilton Wood Type is urgently seeking donations to address this sudden need and to protect its vast collection of wood type, antique printing equipment and rare type specimen catalogs. The museum’s director Jim Moran, artistic director Bill Moran and assistant director Stephanie Carpenter remain committed to transitioning to a new space.

    “We are definitely moving and will be staying in Two Rivers,” says Jim Moran. “Unfortunately, the hopes of staying in the Hamilton building are not an option. It will be an important break in continuity for Hamilton as a manufacturer going back to 1880. However, this is an opportunity to find a...

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  • Reprieve!

    Last December brought more than winter. Just before Christmas, Thermo Fisher announced more layoffs in Two Rivers along with news that the plant’s operations were moving south to Texas and Mexico. Thermo Fisher is the owner of the complex that the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum resides in. A meeting with then General Manager of the plant was not encouraging. While the move was expected to take at least a year and a half, it was suggested that we make contingency plans to find a new home. There was a slight silver lining in those clouds. Should Thermo Fisher leave, the 150 office jobs in the main building would continue on site, and we could be around as long as the office was open. It must be noted that when the museum opened, it was due to the dedication of then General Manager, Mike Brown, to allow the Two Rivers Historical Society 20,000 sq. ft. of unused space to house the new museum. This came with an incredibly low lease which included heat and lights.

    This year brought...

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