By L.S. King
It was cold enough for one to find comfort in a pair of Uggs and long underwear one of those non-balmy Friday nights in Roanoke. My partner and I traveled the two and a half hour trip from Pulaski Friday night traffic accidents and jams waylaying us the whole journey. Was he patiently (and we all need patience while sitting in stand-still traffic) indulging me in a photographic exhibit at one of the local museums? No. It was something all together different.
We found ourselves outside Freckles, a combination coffee shop and vintage clothing store, and though I am one with a passion for coffee (and yes, lets face it – vintage clothing), it was not these that compelled us. Instead an art digression called the Moveable Type Truck was the subject of our visit to Roanoke. Sponsored by Ad 2 Roanoke (a young professionals affiliate of the American Advertising Federation of Roanoke), letterpress guru Kyle Durrie brought her creativity and vision to the Star City. Kyle, proprietor of Power and Light Press, a letterpress studio based in Portland, Oregon, used Kickstarter.com to raise funds for a travel adventure and this was our opportunity to participate in it. For her, this included purchasing and customizing a truck (more like a van), two letterpresses, type, and travel throughout the United States demonstrating a vintage art and advertising form.
So, yes, it is true that this post’s subject has only the barebones to do with photography, and so much more to do with printing. But when all is said and done, the two are very related. Both allow for multiple prints from one image and with today’s technology for printing digital photographs being the same as most printed matter, the two are so interwoven that it is no wonder that a letterpress would intrigue this photographer (who has a secret desire to take up the photogravure process).
Stepping into the Moveable Type Truck was a moment of time travel. The vehicle itself feels like something pre-turn of the millennium. Before our arrival, Kyle had pre-set her lead type and chipboard spacers on her traveling presses, both of which sat atop wooden shelves. As five or six of us at a time huddled close together in the intimate space (oh…and did I mention it was unheated), she demonstrated how to properly ink the plates and operate the presses (the first was dated in the mid-20th century). Each visitor was allowed to try his or her hand at the actually printing process. And literally by turning around to face her other press, a self-inking one from the late 1800s, we made coasters for a local bar and restaurant nearby (though she allowed several of us to keep ours).
Kyle’s sense of humor and talent for type maneuvers is worth experiencing, whether you catch her Moveable Type Project or view her website and blog. I recommend checking our her schedule and enjoying the instant gratification of the printing press. There is something marvelous about the textural nature (both type and texture) of her creations. As she continued her demonstrations for a few more hours, my partner and I stepped back into our current lives, walked a few blocks, and celebrated our printing prowess by indulging in some chicken and waffles, but that is a different story.
Moveable Type Website – http://type-truck.com/
Power and Light Press – http://powerandlightpress.com
The Designblinks blog interview with Klye when she was in Roanoke –
Ad2 of Roanoke – http://ad2roanoke.org/