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St Brigid Press

Thoreau and Friends

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Thoreau and Friends

Hi dear Friends of the Press,

As the temperatures rise on this eve of the Summer solstice, we are rocketing along with new work here at St Brigid Press. Thanks for taking a moment to hear about it!

Recently we turned our attention to a new book honoring someone with a Very Big Birthday coming up in July ~ Henry David Thoreau turns 200 on the 12th! 

Thoreau's birthplace, the Wheeler Minot Farmhouse in Concord, MA. Photo credit: John Phelan

Thoreau's birthplace, the Wheeler Minot Farmhouse in Concord, MA. Photo credit: John Phelan

What began as a small commemorative project has since evolved into a multi-faceted book. As Emily’s research into Thoreau’s life and writings progressed and as local, national, and international news unfolded, we began to see a strong connection between Thoreau’s work and that of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and began to feel the timely resonance of all three men today. 

Turns out, Thoreau’s famous essay “Civil Disobedience” had a profound influence on both Gandhi and King. In different times, places, and circumstances, each man developed a philosophy and a practice of nonviolent resistance to injustice. Those ideas and their implementation lead to powerful individual and societal change, and are as relevant today as in the 19th and 20th centuries.

So, we’d like to introduce the new publication due out soon:

A Handbook for Creative Protest: Thoreau, Gandhi, & King in Conversation

The Handbook will present selected excerpts by each author, along with a Preface and commentary by Emily Hancock.

At about 35 pages, it proved a bit too large for us to accomplish at this time via hand-set metal type, so we decided on a unique and flexible “hybrid” design: The interior pages have been digitally typeset and designed by Emily and will be printed offset at a local shop; Emily will then letterpress print the covers and hand-sew the book here at the Press. This hybrid design lets us allow the full text to be what it needs to be, and yet still incorporates signature elements of the handmade book that are important to us and to you. 

Our fingers are crossed for a late-July release. Stay tuned!

If you would like to put your name on the pre-order list, please email Emily at stbrigidpress@gmail.com 

Many thanks, and all the best,

St Brigid Press

Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary.
— Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"

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How Type is Made, Part 1

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How Type is Made, Part 1

Traditional letterpress printing requires physical letters, cast from metal or carved from wood, which get inked and pressed into paper to make a print. In the next two blog posts, we’ll take an introductory look into how these letters get made.

First up, metal type!

A typecaster of centuries past, pouring molten metal into a mould to cast new letters. (Courtesy of the The University of Manchester Library.)

A typecaster of centuries past, pouring molten metal into a mould to cast new letters. (Courtesy of the The University of Manchester Library.)

Johann Gutenberg’s big Ah-HA! moment in the 15th century was figuring out how to create multiple letters with which to print, and print again and again — a system of “movable type,” where each piece is cast in a mould from an alloy of metals (lead, tin, and antimony). These pieces, all the letters and numbers and punctuation, etc., of the alphabet, could be used and reused — a huge savings of time, effort, and expense compared to the work of scribes!

Metal type wears down over time, because it is relatively soft, and gets scratched or dinged easily. Thankfully for us 21st century printers, some hardy folks are still casting brand new metal type!

Here's a short (1:58), awesome little video by Dave Keyes of Michael Curry casting 48pt Garamond ampersands on his caster in New Zealand:

And here’s another little window into the world of typecasting, courtesy of Michael and Winifred Bixler, who operate their Bixler Letterfoundry in upstate New York, and who have cast much of the new type we have here at St Brigid Press. This beautiful 2-minute video was done by Mary M Jones:

Some of our type comes from a wonderful foundry in Germany, run by the renowned Herr Rainer Gerstenberg. Click the photo below to see an excellent photo-tour of Gerstenberg's foundry, taken by letterpress printer and teacher Thomas Gravemaker.

The beautiful Koch-Antiqua typeface, cast for us by Rainer Gerstenberg in Germany, here printed for the colophon of our limited edition book of poems,  Soundings . Click the photo for more about Gerstenberg's foundry.

The beautiful Koch-Antiqua typeface, cast for us by Rainer Gerstenberg in Germany, here printed for the colophon of our limited edition book of poems, Soundings. Click the photo for more about Gerstenberg's foundry.

So, would YOU like to order some shiny new type?? Here's a list of foundries ready to take your order!

List of Type Foundries in the US and Abroad

Thanks for joining us, friends! We'll see you again soon,

St Brigid Press

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Happy St Brigid's Day!

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Happy St Brigid's Day!

Yeah, we've heard of St Patrick.

But the big holiday around here is February 1st, 

the Feast Day of St Brigid of Ireland!


Who was Brigid?

Ah, there are as many stories as there are pints of Guinness to tell them over. But here are a few to get you started:

  • Celebrated as the Goddess of Fire in early Celtic times, and later as the Christian saint of the Perpetual Flame.
  • St Brigid was born, they say, in 453 in County Louth. Died February 1st at Kildare.
  • Had a passion for helping the hungry and the cold.
  • Established convents all over Ireland.
  • Celebrated on the Feast of St Brigid, in early February, the beginning of the old pre-Christian festival of Spring in Ireland.
  • Patron saint of dairymaids, fugitives, blacksmiths, nuns, sailors, and POETS and PRINTING PRESSES!

For more about Brigid, goddess and saint, see these links:


Why St Brigid Press?

Well, we were pretty sure we couldn’t go wrong with having the patron saint of poets and printing presses on our side! Plus, the founder of the Press, Emily Hancock, is a lass with Celtic lineage ;-)

Hear Emily talk about her choice of Brigid for the name of the Press, with NPR’s Martha Woodroof ~

http://wmra.org/post/web-extra-where-name-came


 

Thanks so much for joining in our joy today!

 

"The wearin' o' the Green" -- INK, that is!

Yeah, we repainted our old typecases green ;-)  Partly out of self-defense ~ when we found them, they were a horrid hodgepodge of colors, from neon orange to red and black. Ack!

We print a LOT of things in green... Here, on some gorgeous antique wood type.

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News from St Brigid Press!

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News from St Brigid Press!

Greetings from the blustery Blue Ridge Mountains!

Though the warm sun is drizzled all over us today like honey, the empty trees and biting breeze signal winter’s steady approach, here in the Rockfish River Valley. At St Brigid Press, we’re also moving into a new season of work, hunkering down with several longer chapbook projects and a new series of prints. 

Speaking of books, we are thrilled to announce that Emily Hancock’s collection of haiku & carvings, Soundings, recently won a prestigious award at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair in England. This volume, letterpress printed and hand-bound here at the Press, took home the Oxford Guild of Printers’ 2015 Prize for Best Fine Press Book under £50. 

We are very honored to receive this award. Hopefully some day we can travel to Oxford in person to attend this yearly gathering of fine printers and bookbinders — the oldest fair of its kind in the world.

Created in a limited edition of just 85 books, Soundings is nearly sold out. If you are interested in reserving a copy, please let us know. For more information and photographs, click HERE.

Our current stock of holiday cards and gift tags is likewise dwindling. See available items HERE.

In the meantime, peace and pace to you all!

With thanks,

St Brigid Press 

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More Glorious Fun with Handmade Paper from Nepal!

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More Glorious Fun with Handmade Paper from Nepal!

Hello Friends, and a very Happy Independence Weekend to you all!

I'm having a ridiculously good time working with this luxurious handmade paper from Nepal, and wanted to share with you how it looks on the new line of journals just out this week:

You haven't even seen the front covers yet, and I know your eyes are already drinking in the gorgeous, saturated colors of this paper.

Made from the lokta plant (a kind of laurel, for you gardeners out there), this paper has been a vital sustainable industry for folks in the Himalayan region, particularly the Kathmandu Valley, since the 12th century. The artisans there have perfected the creation of this beautiful and strong paper, and we are honored to work with it here at the Press.

Introducing, the Kathmandu Journals:

The quick specs:

  • 7" tall by 5" wide, and a half-inch thick
  • 100 interior pages (bamboo)
  • hand-sewn with linen thread
  • $22 each
  • 10% of proceeds goes directly to earthquake relief in Nepal
  • purchase direct from us here

After selecting the large sheets of Nepalese paper, we cut them to size and then affix them to rugged Italian-made cover stock. The result is a cover that is not only beautiful, but durable. The warm-white interior pages, made of sustainably-sourced bamboo paper, are then hand-sewn with linen thread in a multi-section figure-8 binding style that is very strong and allows the book to open flat. 

In honor of the long-standing tradition of beautiful paper-making in Nepal, we are currently donating 10% of the proceeds from each of our journals featuring Nepalese paper to the relief effort in the wake of the recent earthquakes in that region. Each Kathmandu Journal you purchase helps us help the men and women of Nepal. For more information on the disaster and the relief work, click here.

May each of you enjoy a safe and celebratory holiday weekend!

With thanks and peace to all,

St Brigid Press


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