It is with a heavy heart that I must announce The Dale Guild Type Foundry will be going on a hiatus. Effective June 1st DGTF will be packed up and moving west. The ebay store will remain open.
This began to come about in late 2012 when Theo informed me that DGTF needed to move from its location on his property. Dan and I agreed that it is in the foundry’s best interest to part ways as business partners since it was my wish to move the foundry to Salt Lake City, Utah.
There have been many disappointments for DGTF and me personally this year. Perhaps the greatest is the Russell Maret’s cancellation of the Gremolata and Cancellarsca Milanese project I have been working on for the past 8 months. The job turned out to be much more difficult than I ever anticipated. The sheer size of the job, the number of complex ligatures, the engraving protocols required to make a smaller sized design of this nature work were all beyond what I thought they would be. Despite the set backs I faced working through this project I always intended to complete it. Given these set backs Russell decided to terminate the project and I am now forced to pay him back the portion of the job that has not been completed.
One of the biggest issues I was faced with when deciding how to go about moving the foundry is the large amount of machinery. It is a daunting to say the least and would require a great deal of square footage and cost to move and set up again. The only way to meaningfully trim any equipment meant shrinking the current catalog. While DGTF’s tradition lies in American Type Founders I feel it is time to create a new tradition for type founding. One based on education and instruction to keep the most important part alive, the knowledge. I will continue my efforts to find a way to use the machinery I am keeping to produce limited castings of the existing DGTF typefaces, a limited catalog of ATF designs and continue to produce new designs in metal.
If you have ever put off purchasing type from DGTF I ask you to wait no longer. In order to avoid selling many of the type founding artifacts and the machinery necessary to continue the foundry please help to clean out my stock of fonts so DGTF can start fresh out west. The past four years I have been running the foundry have been difficult, but the support all of you have shown me throughout my short time as a type founder has meant more to me than I can express here.
Thank you all so very much. This isn’t an end, but hopefully a new beginning.
A short film about Linn Boyd Benton’s matrix engraving process and machinery.
By Micah Slawinski Currier and Scott Lowe
The reason I learned to print was to make books. Now my life has taken a permanent detour away from printing, save the occasional piece of ephemera for the foundry. It turns out Theo was right when he told me that I will never print again if I wanted to learn the crafts required to be a type founder. Working by myself casting type and engraving matrices is an isolated and solitary existence, one that I enjoy, but that begins to wear on my social life. I cherish the opportunities the Fine Press Book Association makes possible to see what so many printers and book artists I’ve looked up to for years are producing. The energy at these events is infectious and I always come back to work reinvigorated with new ideas, and more importantly with new friends and acquaintances. This year’s Oxford Book Fair was exceptional.
I owe a special thank you to Tom Mayo of the Whittington Press for being such a gracious friend and host for my entire trip. And a hearty congratulations to Tom and Whittington Press for winning a judges award for Andrew Anderson’s powerful collection of lino cuts, A Vision of Order. Tom picked me up at Heathrow and within two hours of setting foot in England for the first time we cycled from Twickenham, into central London and toured around the city for the day ending up at The Art Workers Guild House to see Russell Maret’s lecture. But not before I had a chance to nearly die several times braving the down town London traffic, and fall off my bike in front of Buckingham Palace.
London was great to visit, but living in Brooklyn when I’m not at the foundry I was more interested in seeing the English country side then another huge city. So Tom and I headed out to his home in Cheltenham for a day of cycling through the Cotswolds before the book fair.
I was eager to do some cycling while in England, and after surviving a day of central London traffic riding on the wrong side of road, the rolling hills leading from Tom’s home in Cheltenham to Whittington Press sounded like a treat. Tom wanted to take me the back way to Whittington, winding through the paddocks on single track country lanes, however he failed to mention that we had to first climb what must have been at least an 8% grade, Ham Hill out of Cheltenham. After making it up the hill, with only two water breaks, breath taking ride through green hills cut with ancient stone fences, we arrived at Whittington Press.
It’s difficult to do justice in describing the pastoral elegance of cycling through the country roads of the Cotswolds. Riding down the steep hill into the hamlet of Whittington for instance, the field stones houses lining the road are so charming I had a hard time keeping my bike on the road, constantly rubber necking to catch one last glance. By the end of day the gentle smoke pluming from the chimneys was so idyllic that I considered asking John Randle for a job as a pressman. Much has been written about the beauty of Whittington Manor and the surrounding area, so I will leave it by simply saying that I now have a better understanding why so many great artist’s and craftspeople have been inspired by this part of English country side.
I was beginning to forget why I was in England, and started day dreaming about life in a small cottage in the Cotswolds. Chelsea and I could run an inn where farm to table food was the norm, not just a hip trend. I would be inspired to write pastoral elegies, and engrave intricate naturalist borders to be printed with the finest Guild type. But I didn’t come to England to wonder the hillsides romantically pondering a bucolic life of simplicity and innocence, I was on a mission.
Since I began working with Russell he had been telling me how great the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair was. I am an apprehensive traveler and hadn’t been overseas in more than 15 years. As I watched Specimens of Diverse Characters take shape, and worked to finish my small role in the books production I decided that making the trip to England was essential to getting the word out that The Dale Guild is alive and better than ever. While I am of course aware that what I do for a living is obscure, every now and then I am reminded that even in the world of letterpress printing many people have never heard of The Dale Guild Type Foundry. The exhibitors at the Oxford book fair were not in this group.
I received such a warm welcome and kind words from everyone I spoke with over the weekend. There were many old friends of the Guild, and many new acquaintances. I was genuinely moved by the encouragement and interest in what I have been working for at the Guild. I don’t expect foundry type to come back into fashion among commercial job printers or stationery shops; or even to supplant monotype as the dominant means to printing copy in private press books. Thanks to Russell’s ceaseless advocacy for new type designs, and his lecture New Types For New Books it was heartening to see printers beginning think beyond using the typeface that are easily available and dreaming about what’s possible. After showing the rough cut of my short film about Linn Boyd Benton’s engraving process, Disciplines & Protocols, the reaction of printers interested in having typefaces, ornaments, and press marks produced was resounding.
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the entire trip was seeing Russell win a judges prize for Specimens. It was thrilling to see all his hard work, craftsmanship, and artistry be publicly recognized.
The fascinating and brilliant people I’ve had the great fortune to meet through Theo and The Dale Guild has begun to take the place making books left in my life. Working with artist’s as gifted as Russell and seeing type that I made used in books as magnificent as Specimens is fulfilling in a different manner than creating a piece of art myself. The collaborative effort Russell and I undertook this past year has shaped my view of how type founding fits into the world of printing.
I can’t wait to see happens between now and Oak Knoll 2012.
Micah Slawinski Currier
Brooklyn NY, November 2011