The Wayzgoose Experience

Over the past few days, I attended Wayzgoose 2022, held at one of my favorite destinations on the planet: The Hamilton Woodtype Museum. What is a “Wayzgoose”? It’s an annual gathering for print culture enthusiasts. Spoiler alert: it was an incredible experience.

I was definitely a fish-out-of-water, because I am really someone who writes and also makes handmade books. I’m not working with manual printing presses and typesetting very much, but I wish I were, because the talent, ambition, and artistry on display provided a powerful potion of inspiration and hope.

So what did I do? First, I wanted to enroll in a workshop that would force me to engage in a completely new experience related to printing. Success! I took Wood Engraving: Devilishly Detailed Letterpress Initials with Joanne Price from Starepoint Studio (she’s incredible, and has collaborated on poetry broadsides with writers like, well, Wendell Berry). Our task was, on the surface, simple: carve an image into a small block of wood and print it, thus learning to use the engraving tools and the press itself along the way. The image had to fit on a on a 3-by-2-inch block, and I selected the well-known sketch of Ezra Pound’s head (I had just read a Pound biography).

Starting Image

Well, it only took five hours of patience and practice blocks, but voila! Head carved. Beneath the block is the first test print.

Carved image is reverse of desired result, which hurts the brain.

Then, coolest of all, we produced broadsheets that included each carving and print produced by all the workshop students, and you’ll see what I mean about my not being in my element.

These folks are crazy talented

Joanne Price is an excellent teacher and her own work is rather divine, as it often involves poetry broadsides, which are pretty much my favorite thing. Here’s one of her collaborations that I purchased, and both the poem and the artwork are, as they say, bananas.

I could go on about the talks, the projects, the student work, and overall creativity, but there is so much to say. One absolute treasure was meeting and discovering the work of Leslie Ross-Robertson, founder of Modern Optic in Los Angeles. Her work is out of this world. How out of this world? I’m talking planets (and former planets). The print below, which I purchased, was the result of a collaboration with an astronomer. As we all know, interdisciplinarity is dope. Behold…

This is a planet; I don’t care what you say. And, THERE IS RED ON PLUTO!

What else was amazing? A group in Seattle created a whole collection of poetry broadsides written by children in hospice care. The finished collections, I Would Ask A Butterfly, were gifted to the families. I spoke with Jenny Wilkson at length about this project (in collaboration with Partners in Print), and I couldn’t get through the first poem without wiping my eyes for the next hour. Think I’m kidding? Check out just one example:

I dare you not to cry. This is community-based art at its best.

There is so much more to say and describe that would drag this post on forever. I will end with the presentation where two women were describing how they print in circular patterns, sometimes just a single letter over and over to make a larger image, and then my head exploded so I went home.

The End

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