Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First Big Conference

Last month I had the privilege to attend the American Printing History Association meeting, hosted by the Chesapeake chapter, held at the Corcoron College of Art + Design in Washington D.C. My professor was one of the main speakers and what better opportunity to attend my first conference.

Before the conference started the participants were offered a variety of tours to places like the the Library of Congress Rare Book room, the Government Printing Office, and the National Museum of American History. I chose the NMAH. First we traveled to the bowels of the building to visit the print shop. Due to possible lead contamination from the type, we all had to wear little hospital booties so we wouldn't track the lead through the rest of the museum. Inside there were a number of presses including a Chandler & Price clamshell platen press, a Vandercook SP25 Power flatbed press, three Civil War era  proof presses that were used on the battlefields, and a couple other presses I've never seen or heard of before and sadly don't remember the names. Then we moved onto the print collection room on a different floor of the museum where I got to see and touch an original Kelmscott Press Edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales!! I was so transfixed, I took about a million pictures of it, but of course nothing can compare to seeing the real thing. After the print room we went to the Dibner Library to look at collections of rare books including an original Galileo printed text about the moon, and a medieval medical text depicting "Wound Man," an illustration of a man who suffers all manner of wounds likely to inflict a medieval man.

After a short walk across the Mall, I enjoyed some refreshments and conversations at the Corcoron before listening to a beautiful talk by Boot Arts scholar Betty Bright. The New York Center for Book Arts had a panel discussing how they manage their facility. The Chesapeake chapter of the APHA had a panel discussing how they became printers, how they acquired equipment, and how they function as a group. Kathleen Walkup discussed the program she runs out of Mills College in Berkley, Ca. Lyll Harris, Kathleen's student, gave a wonderful presentation on one of the projects she has been working on involving using an medieval italian text as inspiration and model for a piece of her own. My professor, Steve Miller, spoke about his history in the Book Arts, how is work is driven by collaborations with authors and artists, and the people who have been most influential to him. His speech was so inspiring and encouraging for an up and comer as he illustrated how open and supportive communities are and the importance of establishing and maintaining them.

We also were able to go to the Corcoron's Georgetown campus and check out their printmaking facilities and listen to many more small sessions from how to use book arts to artfully represent scientific research to the logisctics of running your own shop, either independently or within an institution. It is amazing how inventive people can be in order to do what they love. We were so blessed to be able to have our closing reception in the Georgetown University Library, over looking the Potomac. The whole experience was so wonderful to experience and inspiring to know there are so many other passionate people who are excited and active.

While I was in DC, I was able to spend some time with my brother, Danny, who I don't get to spend much time with. We had a glorious few days of reckless dining, rogue pedestrianism, and irresponsible consumption of cheap doemstic beer which we are both too old to really do anymore. It was lovely. Highlight of the Weekend: Danny holding this puppy like a tuckered out toddler.

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