Recently, I spent six fun, but exhausting Vandercook-filled days in Tuscon. While there I tuned up a 215 at Chax press (at left) and a non-motorized SP15 at Heather Greene’s private studio. I then taught three workshops, gave an evening lecture at the University of Arizona and worked on four Vandercooks in the new book arts studio. They’ve had a Universal I for some time, but the other three were newly acquired: a Universal I AB, an SP15 and a 219 old Style. Thanks to participants in the maintenance workshop we had the Uni’s and the SP fit to print during the subsequent beginning letterpress workshops. With new rollers on order they should produce excellent work.

The 219 OS was in need of more work, mostly cleaning, than time allowed, but I did identity a course of action and replacement parts. A maintenance workshop participant named Jay intends to make it his special project. Before we met he had no printing experience, but he is a former Army aircraft mechanic so I think he can figure it out. He promises to post his progress. Meanwhile the photo at right shows what it looked like when I left. Everyone I met was enthusiastic about the new studio and equipment from the first year students to the department head, who can do some machining in his garage. But the most engaged were my host Karen Zimmermann and her husband Phil who are both book artists and faculty in the School of Art. This new studio will thrive. It has strong institutional support include a poetry center, a vibrant student group, and local letterpress friends like as Charles Alexander of Chax Press and Jim Irwin of Letterpress Finesse. For more pics of the studio see the book arts collective blog

Several visitors stopped in during the week including area residents Bill Critchlow, former Vice President of Marketing at Vandercook & Sons in the 1960s, and his wife Lynn, daughter of E.O. Vandercook. They were quite impressed with the studio and all the attention the presses were receiving as well as the general interest in, or daresay affection for, them today. I peppered Bill with numerous questions about his days with the company and I also asked Lynn, who appeared a bit moved, about her family especially her father and grandfather R.O. Bill gave me a photograph which I will post soon.

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