Monday, June 24, 2013

Druck Laden in Mainz, Germany

I'm now in Mainz, Germany, with a bad internet connection, so I apologize if my recent and near-future posts seem a bit spotty. (Last night's was posted from an iPad. Ugh.) Now I'm at a coffee shop with a super-fast connection, so it's time for some photos.

Mainz was home to Johannes Gutenberg and the invention of printing with movable type, and the city is rightly proud of their Man of the Milennium. The Gutenberg Museum has three of his 42-line bibles, plus many other treasures of early printing, dozens of presses, and more recent displays about newspapers, paper, and binding.

The museum also provides a print workshop for public use, the Druck Laden and that's where we've been spending a lot of our time.

The name Mainz, set in blackletter wood type (backwards and upside down, of course) inside the Druck Laden.

The best thing so far was a workshop with calligrapher Gundela Kleinholdermann, who has developed some amazing techniques for using ink brayers as a writing tool.

This is Gundela, with one piece of her work in the background:

She uses brayers -- rollers usually meant for inking printing plates -- as if they were pens or brushes. Her inking techniques can result in the multicolored letters as above. At other times, she works with a restrained palette:

This is a sample of an abecederian poem. The red letters mark new words within the verse, each in alphabetical order.

This piece reminds me of the work of A.M. Cassandre:

Each of the colored letters was made with a brayer about 3" wide. Creating the curved shapes is particularly difficult, but it's even challenging to make the square shape at the bottom of any of the simple letters, such as the I or T. The smaller black letters at bottom right are made by tapping the length of the roller to the paper to make each thin line.

This may be my favorite from among her work, both for style and content:

It mixes a bit of letterpress printing in the black text at the top with the side-tapping method for most letters, plus the creation of the curved shapes using just the negative space of a stuttering brayer. It's like fireworks.

And the need to fail is very important in learning to do calligraphy or printing, so I took it to heart.

This is the most successful student from our group. He's using a brayer that's about 2" wide.

The prettiest thing I made was my ink palette during cleanup.

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