One grandfather was a blacksmith… the other a tinsmith. When I’ve held the tools of their trade, touched items they’ve hand crafted… treasured and passed down through the years… the quality, the history, the art… it overwhelms me.
A “class trip” to the Dawson Print Shop gave me the feeling that everything I was seeing… smelling… touching… every sense was held captive and the emotions, as if I were holding an item my grandfather had crafted, were undeniable. Joe Landry provided a tour that won’t soon be forgotten as he told amazing stories and passed around books from his personal collection… handing them out without a care in the world for the oil on our fingers… leaving you with the feeling that you were indeed turning the pages of time as your eye adjusted to the reality that what you were viewing wasn’t type from digital means, but hand created… and in some cases, hand written by scribes.
Located on Granville Street, in the NSCAD campus, the print department houses the Dawson Collection… ancient and workable printing presses (including a replica of the Gutenberg press) and thousands of drawers packed full of metal and wooden types and cuts that are truly awesome! While used as a commercial printing shop for just a short time, the print shop is a training classroom for the college (including classes for the public in book binding, pop-up books and holiday cards), a space for artists to create and the perfect meeting place for the “Letterpress Gang“… a group of folks dedicated to keeping the old presses alive… protecting and sorting through the collection of thousands of types and creating beautiful art!
Letterpress and moveable type is a process where reversed letters are lined up, rolled with ink and pressed onto a sheet of paper… the ink only gently “kissing” the paper so as not to leave an imprint. Years ago, before the digital age, printing took a great amount of time and what was produced can clearly be considered art. Today, the timeless craft is making a comeback allowing shops like the Inkwell Boutique to thrive. While the printers of days gone by worked tirelessly so as not to leave an imprint on the paper… today’s trend is to leave an impression so folks can clearly see the item was created by hand… including greeting cards, wedding invitations and business cards.
This Saturday night, The Dawson Print Shop will be taking part in the annual Nocturne event… a fall festival that brings various artisans and their works to the streets of Halifax. Drop in and say hello, try your hand at printing and see for yourself the reason why last week… I fell madly in love with the art of Letterpress Printing.