When my wife looked out into our garage, early Fall in 2014, and saw just over a thousand pounds of dismantled press, 100 plus cases of type, boxes of ink, furniture, and leading, she said just one thing:
“What did you just buy?” In one of those I’m annoyed, but don’t have much choice voices…you know the one.
See, it started a few months earlier when we visited Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Genesee County, MI on father’s day. My sons loved the railroad (I did too and highly recommend it), but the print shop was the highlight of the trip for me. It was a small shop with several platen presses and the pressman was printing up notepads. I showed the boys a piece of lead type and they got to watch the press print up a few sheets.
In Grad school, I took a class with Michael Peich of Aralia Press at West Chester University. I loved learning about books, but particularly the process of setting type and designing books. That trip to Crossroads Village reminded me of that love.
On the way back from Crossroads Village, my wife off-handedly said that if I was interested in printing, I should get back into it. I’m sure, looking at our garage, she wished she hadn’t said those words.
The evening before, a friend drove with me down to the Kalamazoo area in Michigan. There, after several hours of loading, winching cast iron up a hill inches at a time, a severe thunder/hail storm, and an angry (albeit rightfully so) phone call from my wife, we loaded an Old Style Chandler and Price 8 x 12 Press (in pieces), trays of type, and other press shop equipment into a U-haul trailer.
Late that night, really the next morning, my family asleep in the house, I unloaded several tons of iron, lead, and steel into our garage by myself–my friend receiving a likewise angry phone call from his wife as to his whereabouts had headed home to bed (or the couch).
Hours of carrying, organizing, cursing, praying, and many moments of sheer terror (cast iron is notoriously brittle) saw all of the equipment formed into a shop and Counterweight Press created. The space and my skills are a work-in-progress, but they are both developing nicely. Every time I ink up the press and start the wheel turning, I learn something new and print something just a little bit better than the previous time.