30 October 2013

An Interview with Kevin King

While I was in Toronto at the beginning of last month working at Massey College, I recorded a short interview with the calligrapher and type designer Kevin King. This interview is now streaming on Susan Mills’ Bookbinding Now website and well worth checking out.

Click this link to find the interview on the Bookbinding Now site.


28 October 2013

Gaspereau Press Wayzgoose Pictures

Well, Holy Smokes! (as George Elliott Clarke would say). We had an astonishingly, gratifyingly successful Wayzgoose this past weekend. We lost track counting the visitors somewhere north of 200 people. I barely had the door unlocked and the lights on Saturday morning when a yellow school bus pulled in front of the building and students from Halifax started to disembark. From that point on, the joint was rocking. We had four letterpesses, one offset press, and a hot metal caster busy all day long – making stuff! Here are some photos from the day. Thanks to all who helped to make the event a success.

Three of our guest printers at work: Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr, (in the overalls), George Walker (in the hat) and Jason Dewinetz (in the green shirt, in the back).

Kennedy expounds!

Kennedy Prints! Amos set up wood type on our Vandercook Uni 1 to create a punchy one-colour poster reflecting on our dubious relationship with progress.

A waygooser cranks a sheet through the press.

George Walker (in the hat) shows wayzgooser Emma Barr how to hand ink a wood engraving.

George helps Emma pull the Devil’s Tail on the Albion handpress to print the engraving.

George and I collaborated on this broadside. I set and printed the type and George cut and printed the block, with, in this case, some help from Emma. The broadside concerns the Halifax printer, journalist, politician and champion of the Freedom of the Press, Joseph Howe.

George the showman.

George with his favorite parlour trick: writing backwards.

Adam Steeves explaining the workings of the Heidelberg KORD offset press.

Adam Steeves pulling a sheet off his press.

Jason Dewinetz printing a two-colour broadside of the famous “This is a Printing Office” text which was originally written as promotional copy for the Monotype Corporation. Here he’s using the light of the window to check the registration between the two colours.

Jason printing on our Vandercook 219 press.

A wayzgooser helps Jason to print the second colour on his broadside.

Gary Dunfield employing his stature to fish down one of Amos Kennedy’s posters for a wayzgooser.

While I showed wayzgoosers how to cast slugs on our Ludlow hot metal caster, Maine-based letterpress printer & journalist Hillary Savage printed the slugs on a parlour press.

Making simple blank books in the bindery.

Learning a simple chapbook stitch.

A ‘wayz goose’ is a goose fed on the stubble after the grain has been cut. There was no goose, but I did have a stubbly hair cut.

Just home from a trip to Paris, France, photographer Thaddeus Holownia showed up and made pictures of some of our guests with his 10 x 12 view camera. Here he is with George Walker and Steve Slipp.

Thaddeus also made a group photo of some of the guests, staff and wayzgoosers. (Front, left to right) Julie Rosvell, David Brewer, Michelle Walker, Sue Goyette, George Walker, Andrew Steeves, Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr, (back, left to right) Joe Stevens, Stephen Quick, Adam Steeves, Gary Dunfield, Hillary Savage, Jason Dewinetz, Ceri Sloan, Connie Sheppard.


21 October 2013

Wayzgoose Weekend Nears!

On Saturday 26 October 2013, Gaspereau Press will host its fourteenth annual Wayzgoose and open house. This event celebrates literary culture and the printed book and attracts bibliophiles, authors and readers from across the Maritimes and beyond. Most events take place in the Gaspereau Press printing works in downtown Kentville, Nova Scotia.

This year’s wayzgoose features four guest artists: typographer and printer Jason Dewinetz (Vernon, British Columbia), wood engraver and printer George Walker (Toronto, Ontario), printer Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. (Gordo, Alabama) and Hillary Savage (Machias, Maine). These four printers will be onhand in the Gaspereau Press printing works throughout the day on Saturday, demonstrating their craft. The event also features readings by Gaspereau Press authors Sue Goyette (Halifax, Nova Scotia) and Dana Mills (Wolfville, Nova Scotia).


Literary Salon (10:00–12:00). An informal gathering which provides published and unpublished writers with an intimate opportunity to meet our featured authors and discuss the craft of writing. Hosted by Susan Haley and featuring authors Sue Goyette and Dana Mills. This event takes place at the Wickwire House Bed & Breakfast, 183 Main St, Kentville.

Printshop Chicanery (10:00–12:00). Wayzgoose morning is usually spent setting up equipment and preparing for the open house, but we open our doors to the keeners who want to lend a hand and visit with the guest artists and staff while they prepare. Offcut paper and books will also be available for sale. This event takes place at the Gaspereau Press printing works, 47 Church Avenue, Kentville.

Open House at the Gaspereau Press Printing Works (2:00–5:00). Take a glimpse into the fantastic world behind the production of the printed book. Jason Dewinetz, George Walker, Amos Kennedy, Hillary Savage and Thaddeus Holownia will join the Gaspereau Press staff offering demonstrations in printing, bindery, typecasting and papermaking. This event takes place at the Gaspereau Press printing works, 47 Church Avenue, Kentville.

A Wayzgoosy Evening (7:00–9:30). An evening of readings by Sue Goyette and Dana Mills and the Lochhead Memorial Book-Arts Talk presented by Jason Dewinetz of Greenboathouse Press. This event takes place at the Saint Paul & Saint Stephen United Church, 440 Main Street, Kentville.

All events are free and open to the public.


What’s a wayzgoose? Literally, ‘wayz’ is an old word for stubble grain, and a wayzgoose is a wayz-fed goose. In the early days of printing, the owner of a printing establishment would hold an annual dinner for his employees in the late summer or early autumn as a way of demonstrating his gratitude, his grandness, or both. The featured dish at this meal was traditionally a stubble-fed goose, or wayzgoose. These days the term is usually used to describe gatherings of book artists. Over the past decade, the Gaspereau Press wayzgoose has evolved into an important annual community event which celebrates the book as a dynamic cultural force, focusing on the relationships among the many people who contribute to the production of the literary books.

Gaspereau Press is a nationally-celebrated literary publisher and trade printer located in Kentville, Nova Scotia. It is one of the few publishers in Canada that actually manufactures its books in-house, controlling every aspect of the production from editing and design through to printing, binding and distribution, employing a broad range of contemporary and antiquated production methods. Given its unique position as a printer and publisher, and its commitment to the tradition of typography, fine printing and book making, Gaspereau Press developed the idea of holding an annual community event that would bring writers, artists and the general public into direct contact with book-arts practitioners from across the country and with the tools of the trade: type, ink, paper and the printing press. Its first wayzgoose was held in 2000.

Jason Dewinetz is a typographer and printer. His design and production for Greenboathouse Press has earned him several national book design awards. He currently teaches English, Creative Writing and Publication Design at Okanagan College in Vernon, BC.

George Walker is a wood engraver and book artist. For over twenty years he has exhibited his wood engravings and limited edition books internationally. He is an Associate Professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. His latest book is The Life and Times of Conrad Black: A Wordless Biography, published by The Porcupine’s Quill.

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., is a letterpress printer and builder of artist’s books lately of Gordo, Alabama (but rumoured to be moving to Detroit), who travels the globe teaching people how to print on traditional letterpresses with metal and wood type.

Hillary Savage is a journalist and letterpress printer living in Machias, Maine, where she recently graduated from a book arts program at University of Maine at Machias.

Sue Goyette has published a novel and three poetry collections, most recently Ocean. She has won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, the Atlantic Poetry Prize, the CBC Literary Prize for Poetry, the Earle Birney Prize and the Bliss Carman Award, and has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Goyette lives in Halifax where she teaches creative writing and works part-time at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.

Dana Mills’ stories have appeared in Geist, subTerrain and The New Quarterly. His story “Steaming for Godthåb” was shortlisted for the 2008 Journey Prize. His debut story collection is Someone Somewhere. He lives outside Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

For more information, contact:
Gary Dunfield
T: 902 678 6002
E: info@gaspereau.com

19 October 2013

Tramping in Toronto and Kentucky

In early October I took a little drive to attend a couple of events in Toronto. While I was in town I was lucky enough to be able to make Massey College (at the University of Toronto) my base of operations, spending most of my days in its printshop and bibliographic room. This is a photo of the dining room and the bell tower at night as seen from the quad.

Massey College is a residential community for graduate students at the university of Toronto. It was established in 1963 by Vincent Massey, a former Governor General of Canada. The building, one of Canada’s architectural gems, was designed by Ron Thom. My late friend Douglas Lochhead was its founding librarian and was instrumental in establishing Massey’s letterpress printshop. Above is the photo of the small suite I stayed in, a room once used by the college’s founding Master, Robertson Davies.

One the focal points of Massey is its spectacular dinning room. I was delighted to see a blow-up of the new Canada Post stamp of the college’s founding master hung over the head table. The stamp was designed by my friend and colleague Steven Slipp of Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Another shot of the dining room at Massey.

As well as hanging around with Nelson (the college printer) and PJ (the college librarian) in the printshop, I spent a lot of time discussing typography, printing and the archiving of wood type with Chelsea, the Massey’s Curator of the Printing Collections (pictured on the right). Every time I stop at Massey, the place seems to be very busy with visitors, though that may be partly the result of my inviting people to come visit me while I’m there. On the left in this photo is Will Rueter from the Aliquando Press in Dundas, Ontario.

One of the other motivations for my visit was that I wanted to attend the annual Alcuin Society awards dinner at the Arts & Letters Club (where the Group of Seven was founded). Pictured above are Brian Maloney, Will Rueter, and Devil’s Artisan editor Don McLeod (with the camera).

The lovely and talented Linda Gustafson, book designer and one of the evening’s organizers, snapped this picture of me at the dinner.

On the following evening I was back to the Arts & Letters Club again, this time for the launch of the Porcupine’s Quill’s trade edition of George Walker’s wordless biography (told in wood engravings) of Conrad Black. Lord Black, unfortunately, declined to attend the launch but was otherwise generous and cooperative throughout George’s project. George is pictured here with the hunting knife that he seemed a little surprised to find that I was carrying in my coat pocket (you can take the boy out of the backwoods, but …). I have seen versions of this photo before, so I suspect that it is not unusual to find George hamming it up at the bar of the Arts & Letters Club. The mirthful woman is Michelle Walker. George and Michelle arrive in Kentville next weekend for the Gaspereau Press wayzgoose; we’re not expecting Lord Black, but I will likely be packing my hunting knife.

Not that it was all carousing and knifeplay! I actually managed to teach a workshop to a dozen undergraduate students using original type specimens produced by William Caslon and John Baskerville, housed in the Massey collection. I was aided in this by the wonderful and talented (and well-shod) calligrapher and type designer Kevin King, who illustrated baroque and neoclassical letterforms as I talked. And I did a lot of exploring in the collection. One interesting discovery (pointed out to me by Chelsea) was a folder of early nineteenth-century print samples from the Gitton printshop in Bridgnorth, England. Mostly broadsides, notices and posters, many of the items had handwritten annotations citing the date the work was printed and the length of the press run. They were also often punctured in the middle, suggesting they had been ‘spiked’ and were likely used in the firm’s billing procedure. Above are two examples, though they do not include those features.

One of the strengths of the Massey collection is its range of type specimens. Here is a sample of some twentieth-century material from the Monotype Corporation.

After four busy days in Toronto, I swung down to Kentucky on my way home to visit Gray Zeitz at Larkspur Press. I was only in Kentucky for a day and spent most of it just talking with Gray about printing and binding. I did manage to photograph some Larkspur ephemera, including these two bumper stickers. I didn’t just drive down there to drink Gray’s bourbon, either. If all works out, Gaspereau Press and Larkspur Press intend to co-publish a book celebrating the 40th anniversary of Larkspur Press in 2014 (though we’ve not nailed down a release date yet).

Dawn in Kentucky as I head for home.

Less than a week to go before our Wayzgoose (Saturday October 26th)! If you are anywhere near Kentville this weekend (near like Toronto is near Kentucky) be sure to swing in and join in the inky fun.