The Designs of Humanity

Sometimes I think about who we are.

Type & Letterpress

Movable Type

A few years back when attending graphics classes at Walla Walla University, I happened to notice an old divided drawer of movable metal type from the age of manual typesetting. The type had no doubt been there for years, and looked to have seen little use. As I’m a bit of an enthusiast, I took note of the novelty at the time.

Now, years later, I’m back at my Alma Mater teaching graphics and web classes on a contract basis. My wife, knowing my love for all things printed, decided to follow the 1st-year paper theme when selecting my anniversary/Christmas gift, and bought me an Adana Eight-Five letterpress, shipped all the way from England. Needless to say, I was ecstatic!

I set about ordering some appropriately rubber-based ink, and then started hunting for plates, cleaning supplies, paper, and type. Upon asking the chair of the Technology department I found that the drawer of type I remembered was unclaimed, and was even left relatively undisturbed! I asked if I could have the drawer—if no one had any particular objections, and a couple emails later I found myself rushing to the lab to see what I could find. When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find not just a drawer of type, but a whole cabinet.

Movable Type Boxes

I thought it unwise (and impractical) to attempt to take several drawers of type home with me after class—especially since I only asked for one—so I looked through several of the drawers and found six smaller boxes of type, each containing 100 pieces. Figuring that this would be enough to keep me busy, I departed with a small handful of type rather than a truck load.

When I arrived home, my dear wife helped me painstakingly sort out two of the boxes that were in a very disorganized state. Now I have type ready for blocking to be used on my letterpress, and I can’t wait to make it happen. Stay tuned for more, as I’ll surely be writing about the results of my attempts.

Filed under: creativity, generosity, opportunity, printing, process, type, typesetting

Mind-stripping

It is my latest epiphany that the only thing worth living for is giving. Allow me to exemplify this with a little tale.

One night I awoke from my slumber to a voice in the next room. I quickly remembered that my grandfather was sleeping in the next room for a few nights while recovering from medical difficulties. At first it was hard to make out what he was saying, but I soon realized that he was talking to no one but himself, even in his dreams. He became more audible as he continued, mumbling phrases like “music was my life… I used to be so great at it. And now I can’t even play my instruments.” He continued on, his mind dealing with other things he’s lost with his age. “I used to play tennis every day, and now I can barely hold a racket.” I was aghast with the thought that someday I too will be in his position.

What will I say in my sleep? What things will my subconscious take upon itself to unload from my mind as I waste away in my sleep?

Then it hit me. The only things that my subconscious will never have to handle in such a way are those things which I’ve given away. What things in life are so important that we really need to attend to more than giving? After all, we’ll all grow old, and all our joys will be stripped from us… save for one—observing the fruits of our efforts in generosity.

Filed under: change, comfort, decisions, dream, friendship, generosity, helping, importance, interaction, loneliness, losing, loss, priorities, sleep, Uncategorized

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