Tuesday, February 28, 2012

True to type

Not the most original post heading I'm sure for any letterpress junkie or typography lover, but there you go!

Whilst we were in New York we visited the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market and had a great morning - sunny, crisp, and clear wandering around the different stalls trying to work out if we could fit stuff in our luggage to bring home or whether the timber or wood might need to be declared etc.

In the end, I stopped and spent more than half an hour going thru a rubble of old metal type, trying to find random bibs and bobs to add to my collection of random timber type.

If I could understand the siren call of letters or text, alphabets, scripts, or words I would be a wise woman. All I know is that I respond whenever they whisper "I am here, look closer". I love them.

I find type incredibly seductive and there is something about the way in which it reads backwards so you have to figure things out in order to make it print properly that I love. I love holding type and I love imagining what it might have been used for in the past. All in all, a minor love affair.

I managed to gather together a set of numbers and 5 "Fs".  No idea on earth what I will do with them; I expect I will just display them and enjoy gazing at them. Sigh. Anybody would think it was Valentine's Day!

Here they are as I unwrapped them...

And then a flipped photo of the Fs....

And a photo of the jumble of wooden type we found in Paris a few years ago...


  1. Mmmmm... delicious.
    Better than chocolate!

  2. my little heart aches when I see magazine photos of bits of type used in art pieces or type drawers used as display cases for lollies or some other bit of uselessness - I would sooooooo love to gather together all the random type pieces in existence and send them off to letterpress folk the world over...

    I see myself wearing a little Super Ronnie cape (with an letterpress printed woodtype 'R' of course)

  3. I totally relate to your attraction to these - I have a small collection of wooden letterpress blocks...
    I love your selection of 'f's

  4. Absolutely Robyn - like chocolate for the eyes...(and I'm a fan of chocolate)

    Hi Ronnie - I agree; and try to use them in my works as either prints or photography, but they are also just such lovely things to gaze upon.Sigh again. Go for it with the cape i say!

    Thanks Stregata - there is an attraction, a pull, that is hard to explain; they are lovely things! Its nice to know others have little collections too.

  5. The siren calls to me as well. Started hearing her 7 or so years ago. My collection, while small, is one of my dearest treasures.

    Love the 5 F's! There's something about F, J, Q, R, X and Z...especially X. If you can figure that one out...

    I've definitely got to visit the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market one weekend. Perhaps when it's warmer...

  6. I can hear the siren call too. Glorious photos of type! Glad you bought some home with you.

  7. yes, delicious - the possibilities of secret messages and meanings hidden amongst those letters.

  8. well, i can hear the siren's song from halfway around the world! these are fabulous - and i love the collection of 'f's! i was just pawing through a pile of used brass stencils a couple of weeks ago and brought some home...

  9. Fiona, I think the attraction is perhaps in the alchemy....all those bits of metal and wood....they transform into printed words, into language, writing, books....it's all magic!! Thanks for sharing them....continue to appreciate those letters and numbers with star-gazed wonder!

  10. Oh these are gorgeous, Fiona! There is something so modern about them as abstract objects, and yet they speak of a time and process so very (regrettably) outdated!

  11. There's nothing like a quiet little obsession... I can't get past chocolate.

  12. Ah Jennifer - more things that go snap! Its nice to collect the bits and pieces isn't it? So much better than having someone toss them out in tot he rubbish. They are such lovely things.

    Yes Robyn - the sirens sings across the miles. I rarely find any type in Australia; its quite rare.

    So true N - lots of magic lurking within!

    Hi MJ - you have to love those little rummaging moments and the thrill that goes with the finding of special bits. Enjoy your stencils!

    Thanks Patti - yes printing is alchemic for me - the wonder of lifting the page; and it probably lies behind with the fascination with these little fellows as you say - what they can do when put together...

    Hi G/TT - and they are solid chaps as well - feel good in the hand. I love the idea of them writing something...

    Ah obsessions are good things to keep us company aren't they Jo? As I said, I'm rather fond of chocolate myself...

  13. Fiona, these are sculptural treasures!

  14. What a lovely collection. The wooden ones have such style and your Fs are so nice, too.

  15. SO true Jo - treasures and sculptural; just solvent to look at.

    Hi Carol - I like the collection of random Fs as well - bait of Fun!

  16. yep. i LOVE going into my friends' shops and just looking.

  17. It is an inexplicable thing isn't it Fiona, except to the rest of us who share the love.As my first 'proper' job was in newspapers in the old hot metal days I love typefaces and anything that has come into contact with printing ink and all the other comments seem to attest to the fact that you're not alone!

  18. Hi V - I totally get that!

    Lesley - thanks! It must have been amazing to work with type in newspaper settings; we have an old newspaper proofing press, and so nice to know you understand the alchemy of printing and ink and type. Delight!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.