The DownStairs Press
Letterpresss – Books & Broadsides
Photos provided by Jack Mader.
Tai Chi Broadsides
Soon after we opened Homewood Studios in 1999, a friend posed the idea of offering Tai Chi classes in the gallery for neighbors. She knew of a teacher. We agreed to try it.
Homewood Tai Chi is still meeting, with the same teacher, to this day. Each week we begin our Saturday class standing in a circle and talking about how the principles of Tai Chi made themselves felt in our daily lives during the preceding week. A specific kind if wisdom flows from these conversations. From time to time I try to capture the essence of those insights in a broadside.
The Result Is Not the Point
13 x 9 ¾ inches • 28 numbered copies. Hand set in Lydian, Goudy Old Style and Goudy Hand Tooled. Printed on Rives BFK / DSP Winter Paper. NFS
Typography I students from Minneapolis Community & Technical College visited my studio. Their instructor had asked me to show them a little bit about how old presses work and to say a bit about how hand set type evolved. I set a phrase from one of the books we read in Tai Chi and had each of the students run a print for themselves on the press.
The paper I gave them to use was from an experimental run of my winter paper work in which I drop drawing ink onto dampened paper and set it outside with the temperature is around zero so the water in the ink can crystalize. The resulting “Jack Frost” patterns offer an interesting substrate for the text.
Softness Is the Hardest Thing
9 ¾ x 6 ½ inches • 15 numbered copies. Hand set in Goudy Hand Tooled and Goudy Old Style and printed on Arches / DSP Winter Paper. $10.
One of the abiding principles of Tai Chi is to be, even in the face of strong energy coming your way, soft. Another word for this concept is to be empty. It is difficult.
This broadside, as are many in the Tai Chi series, was printed on DownStairs Press winter paper.
The Answer Is The Answer Changes
8 x 11 inches • 34 unnumbered copies. Hand set in Lydian and Goudy Hand Tooled and printed on Mohawk Superfine Light Cover. Individual Ensõ character for each print in sepia drawing ink with Japanese calligraphy brush. NFS
Project SUCCESS [www.projectsuccess.org/], a program which combines field trips to local theaters with classroom workshops to helping school children discover and take action on their dreams, is the brainchild of a former student of mine, Adrienne Dierks. The project had its beginnings in my classroom at North Community High School in Minneapolis and is now celebrating its twentieth year of unparalleled achievement.
It has been my good fortune to continue a relationship with Project SUCCESS even after retiring from teaching in 2001. I often spend a few days with the facilitators in the summer doing training and workshops with them. This broadside is a gift I printed for each of the workshop participants in 2012.
The Japanese ensõ seems an apt symbol for capturing the sense of the text.
11 x 15 inches • 20 unnumbered copies. Hand set in Lydian, and Goudy Old Style. Printed on Rives BFK/ DSP Winter Paper. NFS
Most of the Homewood Tai Chi students are, and have been, older folk. But for a while a high school student, and athlete, joined us. The energy and spirit he brought in to our group was enlightening. One Saturday morning, as we began our circle, he offered this thought. All of us were moved by the depth of his words.
The class was about to hold one of its occasional social gatherings, a collectively prepared meal. This broadside was printed to commemorate that event.
Several of the broadsides in this section are not for sale.
They are included to give a sense of the DownStairs Press aesthetic and to invite collaboration inquiries.
LETTERPRESS – BOOKS & BROADSIDES