February 8, 2007 chapter meeting
Union Printmakers Atelier
On Monday, February 8, 2007, eleven members of the Chesapeake Chapter of APHA met for a tour of Union Printmakers Atelier in Washington, D.C. The trip was arranged by Mike Denker, chapter president, and other attendees included Nina Ardery, Stuart Bradley, Jill Cypher, Roland Hoover, Chris Manson, Ray Nichols, Lenore Rouse, Anders Sandstrom, Sara Stone, and Jim Wilder.
Director/Printer Scip Barnhart (above left) gave a brief history of the studio, which was founded in 1977. Scip (pronounced Skip) explained that in all the world, only a specific limestone from Bavaria is suitable for stone lithographic printing due to its particular combination of hardness and porosity.
Above, Scip shows one of many numbered “library stones” on display from the A. Hoen collection.
A view into one corner of the 3,500 square foot Union Printmakers Atelier studio space showing presses, work tables and other equipment.
The bulk of the studio’s stone lithography archives and equipment came from A. Hoen & Company of Baltimore, a premier East Coast printer before they went out of business due to the competing technology of offset lithography. The studio’s letterpress area includes two Vandercook presses and numerous trade cuts and cases of type salvaged from the Press at Anacostia, which burned, and the Corcoran School when their printshop area was downsized.
This elaborate and finely detailed letterhead is kept in the Atelier's archives .
Scip showed stone lithography samples of intricate stock certificate borders from a catalog produced by A. Hoen & Co.
Scip described how "library stones" with images on them were kept on file for clients and transferred via a potato starch process for reprinting purposes. Some of the larger stones weighed in around six or seven hundred pounds (around 2 x 3 feet and about 5 inches thick). Commercial stone litho printing required the use of several different artisans, each with a highly specialized skill (drafting, color work, acid etching, printing, etc.) in order to produce items as varied as oversized circus posters, fine art reproductions, and highly detailed stock certificates. The decline of commercial stone lithography began in 1914 due to the outbreak of WWI when the rest of the world outside Germany was forced to change from using limestone to using metal plates for printing.
The letterpress shop at Union Printmakeres showing their Vandercooks and a Chandler & Price.
Our group examined the wide range of wood type and copper plates available in the letterpress area of the studio. Classes, tutorials and open studio sessions are available at the Atelier facility in a variety of disciplines: stone lithography, intaglio, etching, relief, woodcut, linocut, letterpress and the book arts. Editioning and publishing are also available. For more information, call 202-277-1946 or email email@example.com.
The metal type in the collection came as the result of a fire. This typecase shows some of the results of the fire which burned the backs of the cases but spared the type itself.
After the tour, a brief business meeting was held by Chapter President Mike Denker. Sara Stone relayed information from the recent APHA national business meeting and awards ceremony held in January in New York City. A call for papers has been issued for “Transformations: The Persistence of Aldus Manutius” for the APHA annual conference to be held October 11-13 at UCLA. Stuart Bradley reported that the Chesapeake Chapter’s membership could number 38 once all dues are received. Additional ideas for new, unusual and interesting field trips, meeting topics, and speakers were requested to be passed on to the Program committee. Mike urged those attending to communicate with friends and associates, “casting a net as wide as we can” to attract interested visitors and thus, hopefully more new members. Those attending this first special interest event of 2007 received a PHield Trip keepsake designed, handset and letterpress printed by members Jill Cypher and Ray Nichols of Wallflowers Press. Afterward, the group adjourned to Breakwell's Coffee + Tea, at 900 M Street, for some much appreciated hot soup, toasted sandwiches and more lively discussion about printing.
Below lies the "remains of the day" and all that was left after seven ravenous members scarfed down a tasty hot lunch.