The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair 2014 and more!

This weekend was a lively and exciting one for WNYBAC. As in year’s past, we participated in the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, an annual, nationally recognized fair, organized by our Studio Director, Chris Fritton. This year was bigger than ever, with the fair spanning two days and a handful of free events to compliment the big weekend.

Perhaps the loudest and most exhilarating event was the arrival of our good friend, Amos Kennedy.

Amos Kennedy, an energetic letterpress printer, left his job as a computer programmer to become a humble letterpress printer and bookmaker in the tiny town of Gordo, Alabama. He currently resides in Detroit, MI.

His prints defy the traditional conventions of letterpress printing, often appearing haphazardly done and without regard to precision or neatness. The result is a series of bright, bold, and truly unique prints that boast blunt, comedic, and inspirational quotes.

Amos taught a delightful letterpress demo in our studio, resulting in a finished print that read: “GOATS”.

To learn more about Amos, follow the link!

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Later that night, WNYBAC hosted a showing of “Sign Painters” as apart of the pre-fair festivities.

“Sign Painters,” the first anecdotal history of the craft, features stories and photographs of more than two dozen sign painters working in cities throughout the United States. To help promote the event, our new friend and sign painter, Christian Shaknaitis, crafted this amazingly gorgeous hand painted sign!

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The next morning we woke up bright and early to prepare our table for the fair! Taking place again on Saturday and Sunday, was a giant success. As always, it brings booksellers, authors, bookmakers, zinesters, small presses, artists, poets, and regional cultural workers together in a venue where they can share ideas and peddle their wares. It is held in Buffalo’s beautiful Karpeles Manuscript Museum, a giant church like cathedral, perfect for bringing thousands of people together.

We met old and new friends, recruited some new members, and showed off our newest prints and merchandise!

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During the fair, several free workshops were held for attendees looking for an introduction to printmaking or bookbinding techniques. Maude White dazzled her students with an intricate paper cutting demo, while photographer Max Collins showed onlookers how to wheat paste. Artist Kate Parzych shared her knowledge of the Japansese stab-binding technique in her bookmaking demo.

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The night concluded back at WNYBAC with a “Pop-Up Press” Workshop where the staff of Sunnyoutside Press (Buffalo) and InkPress Baltimore (Baltimore) taught how to create a chapbook from scratch.

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Until next year!



What’s new and cool and WNYBAC? Lots!

But the coolest and newest is our most recent batch of make-ready notebooks.

Make-ready is an inherent result in the process of letterpress. Every project includes trial and error in the positioning of the text, the pressure of the blocks on the paper, the registration of multiple colors and much, much more. Each project is guaranteed a several proofs before the final print is perfect and ready to be run off. We save these proofs and over print them 2 – 3 times, until they become a canvas for intricate overlapping colors and shapes.

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The coolest part about these prints are that they are virtually impossible to re-create and feature several different prints in one. Our most recent batch of make-ready books are our best yet, featuring our most popular prints such as: “There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand,” Maker Faire, Roald Dahl Quote Print, Game of Thrones, and dozens of other cards and prints.

We sell our make-ready notebooks in small (4” x 5”) and large (8.5” x 11”) sizes. Stop in today to pick up a few of your own!

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Mail Art & Creative Correspondence!

At WNYBAC, we’ve always been enamored by alternative economies and populist media. Lately, we’ve been paying a lot of attention to mail art. But what on earth is mail art? Quite simply, it’s any artful object sent via the postal service. There are no real restrictions on media (except what the postal service allows), but mail art often takes the form of 2d work: collage, illustration, painting, rubber stamping, etc.

Correspondence art is a great way for artists to share their work directly, and to foster creative collaborations. Pieces are sometimes sent from one artist to the next, with each adding his/her own unique style and medium to the assemblage. These collaborations allow artists who don’t live near one another to “work together,” pulling together something akin to an exquisite corpse.scannen0012DesktopResolutie

The origins of mail art are difficult to distill; Italian Futurists experimented with correspondence, polymath Bern Porter was making and sending pieces throughout most of his long life (and was the self-proclaimed “inventor” of mail art), FLUXUS artists during the 1960s and 70s focused a lot of attention on collaborative works sent via the post, but American artist Ray Johnson is often given credit for being the first “mail artist.” Johnson also reportedly sent the most shocking piece of mail art ever made: a postcard that arrived in his own mailbox a few days after his suicide that read “If you’re reading this, Ray Johnson is dead.” (For more on Johnson, we recommend a great documentary called How to Draw a Bunny).howtodrawsm

Intrigued yet? You should be! Mail art is fun and easy (who doesn’t like  surprises?), but it’s also meaningful – it facilitates a direct connection between the person who made the object and person who receives it. With that in mind, we’ve created a little Mail Art Starter kit here at WNYBAC to get you going. It contains lots of letterpress offcuts, paper ephemera, small objects for collage, and even a little glue to stick it all together. E-makes-further-ZALOP-Fluxus

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, our friend Ross Priddle from Calgary, AL, has been keeping a blog about mail art called bentspoon for over 10 years!

For more general info, the Wikipedia write-up on mail art is pretty comprehensive as well. Happy making, and keep your eye on your mailbox!

WNYBAC Visits Virgin Wood Type!

This past Thursday, WNYBAC Studio Director was lucky enough to visit Virgin Wood Type, in Rochester, NY. Virgin is producing wood type for letterpress printing the old-fashioned way, using a pantograph router to cut the characters in end-grain maple.IMG_3207Virgin Wood Type started in 2010, when the Bill Jones and Geri McCormick bought the pantograph and the original letterforms from the American Wood Type Manufacturing Company. They started out by producing 23 of American’s original typefaces, and eventually moved on to offer revival and specialty faces as well. In addition to full fonts of type, Virgin also offers catchphrases and ornaments – many of proprietary design.

The price of antique wood type has increased wildly in the last few years, due primarily to a burgeoning letterpress market that induced scarcity. For letterpress printers who don’t have access to a large collection of wood type, and don’t have the means to acquire it, Virgin provides an affordable alternative.

Here’s to Geri and the late Bill Jones for having the heart to start it all, and here’s to Derek Crowe, Paul Jones, and Geri for keeping it going. Check out the pics and the short video below!

Cutting wood type with a pantograph router involves tracing an original letterform with a stylus that’s attached to mechanical arms. The mechanical arms scale down the movements (say from 1″ to 1/4″) to a router bit that they control, allowing the operator to cut small pieces of type precisely. In this example, Derek is following the form for the letter C with the stylus, and the pantograph scales down those movements while cutting a correspondent letter C in the blank piece of end-grain maple. This process is repeated, one letter at a time, until the entire font has been routed – then each piece that requires sharp angles in hand-finished.

WNYBAC Visits Virgin Wood Type from Chris Fritton on Vimeo.

2014 Buffalo Mini Maker Faire!

Saturday was an exciting day for children and adults alike at the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire! The fair was “mini” only in that it is a subset of the World Maker Faire, an international event that brings together creators, inventors, builders and artists to display their craft. We attended the World Maker Faire back in 2012 and were jazzed to have the opportunity to create the commemorative poster for the 2013 fair. This past weekend’s event, held at the Buffalo Museum of Science, was the first time the Maker Faire was brought to Buffalo.


2013 Commemorative Print

We were again faced with the exciting prospect of creating a commemorative print for Buffalo Mini Maker Faire. We had complete creative control in design, the only guideline being that we would use the traditional Maker Faire colors. So we whipped out the red and blue ink, and got to work!

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The print was made using a combination of wood carved blocks, wood type, metal type, and ornaments to create the 4-color finished product. Since the fair is all about the process of creation, we laid out each color of the print in consecutive order.

Process Prints

Process Prints

In our ongoing attempts to explain how letterpress printing is done, we brought our Kelsey Platen Press set with a form to be printed on take-home coasters. We demonstrated step-by-step how the press functions and then each participant got a chance to try it out for themselves!

Khrista demonstrates how to use the Press!

Khrista demonstrates how to use the press!

Before we packed up, we passed out commemorative prints to each maker as their very own take away from the fair. Overall, a successful day!

Food on the Brain

There’s nothing more appealing than food! Food is the thought that comes to mind 3 (or more) times a day, the thing that brings friends and family together, and the thing that promotes health and happiness in communities throughout the world. So it’s no wonder that food-centric prints also happen to be one of our best-selling items here at WNYBAC.

This February we released two new food prints that have quickly become popular in the local community. The first implements two types of relief printing: letterpress and linoblock carvings. The detailed carvings aim to model the letters they replace, putting a clever spin on a popular saying. The carvings were crafted by our Program Director, Khrista Tabak.

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The second is a unique representation of various types of beer. The tan to chocolate ombre is created by placing light ink on one side of the press’ rollers and dark ink on the other side. The oscillating motion of the rollers blends the color together creating a smooth gradient. In this case, we tried to mock the amber and chocolate tones found in beer.


Interested in either of these two prints? Stop by the WNYBAC boutique from 12-6pm Wednesday – Saturday or order online using the link below.

WNYBAC Restructuring

Recently, our financial crisis has raised many questions about the status of the Western New York Book Arts Center, where our institution stands, and what changes we’ve made as we look toward the future. We’re here to answer all your questions, and assure you that critical staff members have been retained, an austerity plan has been implemented, and all scheduled educational and supplemental programming will continue.

Please take a moment to review this press release for a more detailed account of critical changes and a brief look at our new, streamlined model. It’s our sincere hope that these measures will allow us to be an integral part of the Buffalo cultural landscape for many years to come, as well as establish a framework for future growth and viability.

If you’re wondering how you can help – spread the word about WNYBAC, and tell all your friends about our mid-year appeal – visit our Indiegogo fundraising campaign and share it with your friends!

WNYBAC On Our Feet!

The Western New York Book Arts Center is in a time of transition, and we’re facing a significant budget shortfall. In order to facilitate educational programming and retain staff, we’ve started a mid-year appeal and an Indiegogo Campaign. It’s our hope that this will allow us time to strategize for the coming year, and ensure that we continue providing students, authors, artists, printers, poets, and the public with a well-run, well-maintained, vibrant, diverse, progressive, and innovative place to participate in cultural production and consumption.

There are amazing perks available for donating to the Indiegogo Campaign.

New Kids on the Block (Club)

Recently WNYBAC had the opportunity to work with the Buffalo design firm and magazine purveyors, Block Club. We’d long been searching for a way to collaborate, and Block Club’s new format, featuring a wraparound front and back cover along with a series of “pause” pages throughout the mag gave us the chance. Studio Director Chris Fritton worked with Creative Director Brandon Davis, Editor Ben Siegel, Designer Julie Molloy, and Designer Tim Staszak to create a string of images that correlate with the theme of the upcoming issue.

Digital images were overlaid with text using antique and vintage wood type from the collection at WNYBAC. In order to announce the analog aspects on the prints, metallic inks inks were used and some typefaces were selected that have no digital equivalent.

We can’t wait to see what it looks like when it arrives, and we look forward to working with the crew down the block from us again soon.

The new issue drops April 4th, and the actual prints will be on view at the Block Club offices from April 5th on!

2013 Buffalo Small Press Book Fair!

The Western New York Book Arts Center is happy to be supporting the 2013 Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, which, for the first time ever, will be held on two days this Spring! The Fair is scheduled for April 6th and April 7th, from 12pm-6pm and 11am-4pm respectively. It will be held at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Porter Hall, 453 Porter Ave, Buffalo, NY.

The incredible growth of the fair, aided by local institutions like WNYBAC, Just Buffalo Literary Center, and statewide by NYSCA, has made it necessary to increase the vendor and participant capacity. In 2012, the Fair boasted over 110 vendors and 3000 participants!

The Fair will still feature all of the same amazing things: zines, comics, handmade books, prints, small press poetry, and more!

Vendor applications are now open for the 2013 Fair, and they can be found here. Sponsors for the Fair are always welcome; more information can be found here.