Archive for March, 2009

After the holiday

31 March 2009

We’ve been back for over a week now, and we’re busy printing Henry IV Part 1, the next title in the Letterpress Shakespeare series. We also have some new things under development, and we’ll be letting you know about them soon.


Friends, roaming charges and bikes

21 March 2009

People seem friendly here. Often in shops, of rather stores, I’m told ‘You have a wonderful day’ with every appearance of it being meant. Even the well presented men inviting us to have a drink and a little fun outside the strip clubs on Broadway are affable, unmenacing and a little humourous.

Michael and I quickly became welcomed regulars at our breakfast place, Pat’s Cafe. As well as good food and a friendly welcome we get free wi-fi. O2 make an exhorbitant charge for Internet connection by 3G, so checking email etc has become part of the morning ritual. This post is being written at the airport while waiting for my plane home, but all the others came from Pat’s. The wi-fi isn’t free here, so this won’t be published until I get home.

Another of our shared interests is cycling, and we have been looking at the bikes locked up on the streets as we walk round. Fixed wheels seem as fashionable here as in London, and some of the machines are gorgeous. Many of them have centre pull brakes and alloy handlebar stems, suggesting to our expert eyes that they date from the seventies or eighties.

Fixed wheels seem an odd choice for a city with such dramatic, vertiginous hills, but cool and practicality often don’t go together.

Promised Land

20 March 2009

One of the great things about being here with Michael is that we are visiting people in the lettering and printing community.

Yesterday we went across to Berkeley on the train. It was a gloriously sunny spring day. Our first visit was to letter cutter Chris Stinehour, whose picture is here. After lunch Chris took us up into the hills where we had an astounding view of the Bay area. On the way back down I thought that if I’d come here in my twenties I might never have gone back. Chuck Berry’s promised land was Los Angeles, but this may well be mine.

Chris left us at the workshop of David Goines, whose Constructed Roman Alphabet was given to me not long after I started Hand & Eye. It was exciting and slightly surreal to drop in on someone whose book I’ve known for over twenty years.

The Saloon

19 March 2009

San Francisco is a magical city with many wonders. One of them is The Saloon, a blues bar at Columbus and Grant, where I’ve been spending more than a fair share of my time.

It is all that a bar should be, untouched since who knows when, dingy and, above all, with great bands and juke box. Most of the musicians look as if they’ve been playing there since the last time the decorators were in.

The first two times I went in the bar tender was a man who had made an art of his job. He never stopped, his fluid movements in time with the music, spinning glasses in the air, catching them and then sweepng them behind his back and down the bar…

As my travelling companion is Michael Harvey, lettering artist, type designer and photographer, I have been paying particular attention to things like the notice in the second picture here. The letters are gloriously drawn and irregularly spaced. So much better than if they’d been printed out in Arial or Times.

News from the airplane

18 March 2009

I don’t fly very often, and my last transatlantic trip was in 1990, so views from airplane windows are a source of wonder. This picture was taken some 30,000 feet above Greenland. There are a number of others of sea ice on Hudson Bay and long straight roads in rigid grids across north Canada. Then clouds intervened and there was only a brief glimpse of the Rockies before we came into San Francisco.


13 March 2009

We’re closed next week, as Phil is away. There may be a post or two from San Francisco…

Otherwise we open again on 23 March.

Value for money

2 March 2009

picturehookFlushed with the success of our recent picture hanging, we thought we’d put up some more. A local corner shop didn’t have picture hooks, but they did have a picture hanging kit, which included hooks and pins. The pins weren’t up to much, but as a spirit level was also included and the whole thing came to £2.20 we weren’t going to complain.