Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I want to be an old-world woman (who blogs)

Recently I heard the phrase "old-world woman" used on hgtv to describe how a room was being decorated. That phrase sounds so good to me. Even without knowing what that meant really, I knew I would love that style, and I decided I wanted to not just decorate in the style of old-world woman, but I wanted to actually be an old-world woman.

Lucky for you and for me, I don't have to try to describe what this means, because the hgtv website does it for us!

Not only do I strongly prefer the old world style, but I also have a deep love of contra dancing, and I am developing a new love for letterpress, and I think both of these passions help to qualify me as an old-world woman. Unfortunately, blogging about these things does not really add to the old-worldliness.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Printing in the letterpress studio

Last week I had my first orientation session at the letterpress studio. We were instructed to bring a sonnet or other short poem. In that session I got all of my type set, with the exception of the title and author. In this session I got started with those two things, and then it was on to printing!

Here is my type on the Vandercook press. The wood blocks around it are the "furniture" that holds it in place. Learning the letterpress lingo is all part of the fun it seems. When the type is not on the press, you store it in a "galley" which is the proper word for the metal tray. Bob will correct you if you just keep calling it a tray.

A close-up of the type. Just ignore the lack of proper white balance in these photos.

And the finished product! I printed six of these, and then it was time to start cleaning up. Each letter has to go back in the case. It is a time-consuming process, and I never even finished. Luckily, you don't have to sign up for open studio time if you are just putting type away, so I'll have to go back tomorrow to clean up after myself.

The part of the process that actually took a long time was fixing errors. Once I had my sonnet all set, I printed a proof. Well, that showed a few errors, like letters upside down, or just the wrong letter altogether. When Bob checked my work he said,
"Is 'floots' a word?"
"Nope. That was supposed to be 'floats'."
"Okay, I just wasn't sure. Some of these poets make up their own words."
Fair point, Bob.
After I fixed the errors and made my six copies on nice paper and cleaned off the type, I noticed one more very minor error. I didn't fix it though, and I didn't want Bob to be disappointed, so I just didn't tell him.

When the press was all cleaned up and I was picking up my stuff to leave, I was asking Bob what kind of presses he had at home. He has a bunch and he lets people come in for day-long sessions to use his studio. I asked how people found out about his studio, and he says he advertises on Craig's List, so that was pretty neat. He is actually pretty close to The Barn and he said I could come by and check out his studio sometime. He also gave me a copy of his Christmas "card" which was actually a small pamphlet, all done with letterpress. Apparently it only took him a couple months. Very impressive!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Letterpress Studio Adventures

A friend recently told me about Dartmouth's letterpress studio, which, as a grad student, I am allowed to use for free, including materials. There are two required orientation sessions, and since the studio is small they fill up fast. So I had been waiting months, but tonight I finally got into my first session. My second one will be a week from now. And then I will have free range in the studio during open hours (which are also limited to 6 people, I believe)!

I got to the orientation session, and there were two girls already there, and an older gentleman, who I quickly learned was Bob, our instructor. The other two were sitting there silently, but I was feeling chatty, so I was asking Bob how long he's been working at Dartmouth (part of me thinks undergrads don't even think to ask questions like that (actually, I think I never knew to ask questions like that until I started meeting a lot of new people at contra dances, and then that is a pretty normal question)) and how he got into doing letterpress stuff. He said he took a class in high school, which I wish I could have done. He also said he started learning type-setting just as it was "going out of style" in favor of all automated things.

So anyhow, Bob is awesome. We are friends, and we are going to have a good time in that letterpress studio.

For the first half hour of orientation he told us a bit about the history of letterpress, gave us some handouts, talked a bit about the typecases. The terminology "upper case" and "lower case" when referring to THIS and this, respectively, came from the original typecases, in which the upper case letters were located in the upper typecase, and the lower case letters were located in the lower typecase. Pretty nifty bit of info that I never knew.

We were also instructed to bring a sonnet or other short poem to use as our practice piece. I am definitely not a poetry person, so I was having a hard time finding something that I was moderately okay with. This morning, out of desperation, I googled: "sonnets that don't suck", and was led to Sonnet 1928 by Elizabeth Bishop. It is actually quite nice.

Setting type is a wonderful process that takes a fair amount of time, all while being quite meticulous. The amount of care put into forming each word made me so much more appreciative of the richness of the poem, which is not something I had expected. That Elizabeth Bishop certainly could make words beautiful.

There wasn't enough time to actually do any printing of my sonnet, but next Monday I should be able to do that. I also forgot my camera, but Bob said that I can take pictures as long as I give him 50% of any proceeds of sales of the photos. So next week I will have another letterpress adventures post, complete with (hopefully) neat-o photos!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Probably why I have a headache right now.

This is what I have eaten so far today:

- the last of the raspberry kringle
- a piece of hummingbird cake (don't worry, I verified it was not made of hummingbird's before I ate any)
- a piece of spice cake
- two cups of coffee
- half a bottle of Xtremo Mango Gatorade (pretty delicious)

Hence the title of this post.
Should probably remedy with some real food.

I'll have the sopitas.

For Christmas Greg gave me the book The Hummingbird's Daughter, which I really enjoyed reading. He got it for me because it was the prequel to the book Queen of America, which he had heard about on NPR and thought I would like. The books were both awesome. I rated them both a 5 on my goodreads, although I'd have to say I liked the first book more.

I think it was the second book that had a very funny anecdote about sopitas, which actually made me laugh out loud. So last night I decided to make sopitas for dinner, roughly following this recipe.  They were pretty delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed the excuse to constantly proclaim, "I'll have the sopitas."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: year of the cappuccino

I generally am not super into New Year's Resolutions, but in the past few years I have had a "year of belts" and a "year of scarves" in which I tried to start wearing each of the above items. The year of the belts worked, because now I wear belts and I never used to and they are pretty handy for keeping your pants from falling down. I think the year of scarves failed because I never really got any scarves.

But 2012! That is the year of the Cappuccino! Greg and I were gifted a super-fantastic espresso/coffee maker combo machine for Christmas. It is awesome. It gave me instructions for making Cappuccino, which I have done, twice. I think I end up drinking them more quickly than it takes me to make them, but hopefully my skillz will improve with time. I also don't really know if the beverages I am making are classified as lattes or cappuccinos. According to this handy chart, the two are pretty similar.

Also, why have I never ordered a Breve?!

So basically, I am making awesome beverages that have espresso + steamed milk + milk foam. I generally prefer to drink lattes, but I like proclaiming cappuccino (You've Got Mail-style). Plus I bought vanilla syrup. The good brand. Plus I have already started making amazing latte-art. Check it out:

Turn your head to the left slightly and you'll notice the knight helmet I made.