I spent this past weekend in Itasca at the STA-Chicago (Society of Typographic Arts) Retreat. It was filled with interesting conversation, designs and questions. Larry McDonald's presentation questioned how we could generate type and communicate without a keyboard or electricity. Aside from the manual press, it can be done with stencils. He brought in a recently acquired beast of a machine, a Diagraph Bradley stencil cutter. I've never seen such a thing. It reminded me of my DYMO Label maker from the 70s, but bigger and heavier. You insert paper, spin the wheel to the letter you want and pull the lever to punch it out of the paper, and it automatically advances. But no spaces. We all punched some stencils, mine is shown here.
Then last evening, I was at Spudnik Press for a Risograph workshop! This Japanese machine uses a stencil process, similar to screenprinting, but it all takes place inside a beige box that looks just like a photocopier. It seems a bit messy and a bit glitchy, but I think that is the allure of it. The machine scans whatever is on the glass and makes a stencil, the master, on what looks like wax paper, which then sits on the drum filled with ink. Then paper passes the drum to get an impression in that single ink color. Want a new color, switch the drums out of the machine. Want a new stencil, push the button to make the machine generate a new stencil. But of course, it looks like a copier so it behaves like a copier too. So many error messages and paper jams!
The image above is a detail of a group practice sheet we made, printed in green, then red, then black.
I love learning all the new/old ways of making stuff.