Friday, May 25, 2012

Letterpress Shanty @ Northern Spark!

The Letterpress Shanty is coming to Northern Spark! Stay out all night with us, from dusk 'til dawn, on Saturday, June 9th, 2012. Northern Spark is a city-wide, overnight arts festival inspired by the white night festivals, otherwise known as Nuit Blanche, originating in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

We'll be located, along with our fellow Art Shanties, on Main Street, in the area known as St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis, on the banks of the Mississippi river.

Back in January, during the 2012 Art Shanty Projects, we hand-printed a daily broadside paper, sourced form social networking platforms, and distributed copies on the ice of Medicine Lake. We're at it again on June 9th. We'll be printing a document pieced together from bits of text submitted by people from all over the world, including (we hope) you!

This time, we're engaging you in a collaborative writing exercise inspired by surrealist games such as exquisite corpse. Participants will contribute bits of text (phrases or entire sentences) without full knowledge of what other participants are contributing.

To contribute, follow prompts from @shantyquaria on Twitter, or fill out our online form. Submit early and submit often!

We'll take all of your entries and bring them together to create a unique collaborative text. We'll print this document on an old-fashioned letterpress, set in metal and wood type, and distribute copies to visitors to The Letterpress Shanty during Northern Spark. Last year, over ten-thousand people participated in Northern Spark. We won't produce anywhere near 10,000 copies, but we'll be operating the press all night.

Come visit us on June 9th to get a copy, or visit us online to check out the downloadable PDF.

Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press, or use our online form.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shantytown: a glimpse into the first few days.

Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press on the ice.

Volume 4, Issues 1-2 now available online!

Shantyquarian 4-1 Saturday 2-4 Shantyquarian 4-2 Sunday 2-5
We've added a Published Issues tab above , which will eventually link to all 9 issues of The Shantyquarian

Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press on the ice.

Volume 3, Issues 1-2 now available online!

Shantyquarian 3-1 Saturday 1-28 Shantyquarian 3-2 Sunday 1-29
We've added a Published Issues tab above , which will eventually link to all 9 issues of The Shantyquarian

  Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press on the ice.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Volume 2, Issues 1-2 now available online!

Our second weekend came and went, and it's going way too fast! We had over 3500 visitors this weekend, and we published 46 more tweets, form submissions and messages in bottles. One thing that has become obvious is that we have no recognizable editorial signature. We're interested in the sublime, the grotesque and the mundane. We want to capture the breadth of content of social media and the intimacy of what happens in a highly local, environment-dependent event with both participating artists and visitors.

What happens when we juxtapose an overheard conversation in Dublin with an ongoing snarky fight between a dance shanty and a fashion shanty, a string of genetic code pulled from a message in a bottle frozen in the ice, poetry and observations from NYC, Iowa City and Tuscaloosa, a monster advice column, haikus from art-car creators, an ice condition report from Oshkosh, and a recommendation for some great carne asada in St. Paul? We don't know yet, but we hope to figure it out by our 9th and final publication.

Check out our fourth and fifth issues below. See if you or someone you know has been published:
Shantyquarian 2-1 Saturday 1-21

Shantyquarian 2-2 Sunday 1-22

We've added a Published Issues tab above , which will eventually link to all 9 issues of The Shantyquarian

Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press on the ice.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Volume 1, Issues 1-3 of The Shantyquarian are now available online

Our first three issues are scanned and uploaded! We had an amazing first weekend, publishing three issues on the fly. The Letterpress Shanty hand-set type for a new issue each morning, printed over 600 broadsides, hand-set 67 submissions, distributed roughly 200 postcards--all while engaging, educating and entertaining an estimated 2000 visitors the first weekend of Art Shanty Projects.

It's no wonder we had so many typographical errors. Sigh. But we're letting go the gross imperfections and embracing our cockamamie project. One of our visitors said that we reminded him of tramp printers, and we''re flattered by the comparison; they were known for a high level of precision and artistry to which we aspire. Plus, many of them were drunks! Our team is guided by experienced letterpress printers and book artists who are learning just how exhausting and exhilarating it is to try to turn around a letterpress paper from start to finish in just a few hours.

Take a look and see if you've been published. If not, don't despair: we still have 6 more issues worth of tweets and messages in a bottle print! That's over two more weeks to submit and three more weekends to come visit us on Medicine Lake. We'll be announcing your published tweets on Twitter.

Take a look and see if you've been published, or just enjoy the sweetness and absurdity of what we've done so far:

Shantyquarian 1-1 Saturday 1-14

Shantyquarian 1-2 Sunday 1-15

Shantyquarian 1-3 Monday 1-16

We've added a Published Issues tab above , which will eventually link to all 9 issues of The Shantyquarian.

Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press on the ice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Whiteout conditions on Medicine Lake tonight. 40 mph winds. Booming ice. After a lovely pot luck hosted by The Department of Everything Else, with hot toddies and shanty-cooked squash and garlicky noodles, we settled into our shanty to print the deluxe edition of Monday's paper. Like our other deluxe editions (printed on nice paper, with ink), we printed by candlelight and headlamp, accompanied by members of Audio Adventure Shanty.

Here's a copy.

We rounded out the night with a dance party in our shanty and a sauna with friends from the Department of Everything Else, Audio Adventure, School House, Reflection, and Naughty shanties, hosted, of course, by Sauna Shanty. Perfect.

Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press on the ice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Shantyquarian in print!

We had an amazing first weekend! We printed three issues of The Shantyquarian--one per day--and gave away over 600 copies of our paper. We lived in our workshop on the ice for almost 36 hours, enjoying the light and warmth and the company of friends, family, artists and engaged visitors. A major success! Our volunteers were amazing and we were all pretty much delirious.

If you visited the Letterpress Shanty, we want you to know that we loved meeting you and talking with you. We're looking forward to the next three weekends.

We're thankful for all the great submissions we've had so far (and they keep on coming), and we'd like to especially thank our early adopters on Twitter for setting us up with so much great content right out of the gate.

All of the shanties and performances are amazing this year (as we've come to expect) and we enjoyed walking out our front door into a carnival of visual art, music, and performances--a cornucopia of the unexpected.

Here are some photos, highlighting what we did in the Letterpress Shanty these first three days.

MC teaches our Day 1 morning volunteers how to set type. We have great light throughout the day.
Most of our content comes from Twitter, and many visitors and shanty artists use our paper forms, but we also publish a few messages in a bottle, written by patrons of The Shanty of Wonder, and submerged in the lake below the ice before they are collected and given to us at the end of the day. It's OK if none of this makes sense to you.
Each submission is hand set in metal type and placed into the bed of our press.
We couldn't do it without our amazing volunteers. And our enthusiastic visitors. Who is that dude?
Having set all our type, it's time for an editorial meeting. It's good to have experienced book artists and printers up in this shanty.
MC and Regula review the proof copy.
Our second issue is laid out and ready for print. "Oh no! It's backwards," hundreds of people joke every day.
Jon pulls prints and discusses our publishing concept and the letterpress process with visitors. Our first run is printed on carbonless paper. We have hundreds of people walking through each day and ink takes hours to dry. So we're basically handing out the part of the checkbook that you never bother to use to balance your accounts.
We also have a tabletop Platen press on which visitors can pull their own prints.
These two young printers teamed up to pull the lever and make postcards. Our shanty is just like Upton Sinclair's, The Jungle.
Jill Waterhouse of The Postal Shanty (sadly, not on the ice this year) models a postcard she printed on our Platen press.

At the end of the day we print with ink and set these copies aside for visitors in the morning. Sara hand-inks the press.
MC pulls a copy of our morning edition while Jon prepares to eat a small child.
Jeff posts The Shantyquarian in the middle of Shantytown. The Department of Everything Else and Capitol Hill shanties can be seen in the background. What does Capitol Hill Shanty look like to you?

Team members and volunteers distribute the paper to other shanties and visitors, and read aloud from the paper in the tradition of the town crier. One of our volunteers told us her grandfather was a town-crier in the Swiss Alps!  The beautifully designed Sit and Spin Shanty is featured in the background.
MC reads The Shantyquarian aloud at the Shantytown meeting, run by The Department of Everything Else.
After Art Shanty Projects closes, we print our deluxe edition by headlamp and candle light, because we are crazy. 
Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press on the ice.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It was a wonderful, weird, and long first day.

We promise to give you the full update soon., including pictures, but
we are so (happy) sleepy.
Pictures forethcoming, plus, scans of our first issue coming soon.
Good night, shanty!

Monday, January 9, 2012

This is where your tweets go:

This is our baby, Sarah's sign press. The Shantyquarian will be a single-sheet broadside, measuring 11" x 17".

LETTERPRESS(,) the sign.

We decided that the best way to make a sign for Letterpress Shanty was to build our own type and print it ourselves. We designed the front wall of our shanty to be both letterpress and print so that visitors will get their first introduction to our craft as they approach the shanty.

We printed out one-foot-high letters to scale and traced them on masonite. We chose Helvetica as our font. It's a classic and the letters are about as close to proportional as you can get without resorting to monotype.

Sara traces our typeface onto the masonite.

Jeff cuts out our typeface with a jigsaw.

Jeff and Jon Gorilla-glue the letters to blocks, cut uniformly to allow for a 1/2" margin around the letter "R" which has the widest dimensions. Notice that the letters are backwards. Text and images are reversed when transferred to the printing surface.

Jeff and Jon fasten the type to the press bed of our sign.

The lower half of our sign--type and press bed--is complete.

Sara paints the type black, before we ink it, while Jon and Jeff mount the printing surface on a stretcher to lower onto the type for printing.

Sara prepares the ink for our print.

MC, Jon and Sara hand-roll ink onto our type. The stretcher is ready to be flipped over onto the type for printing.

Having lowered the printing surface onto the type, we hand press the plastic with dry rollers onto the inked type.

The moment of thruth! We carefully lift the stretcher from the type and we have our first print!

The team is relieved and excited that this process worked. This is a great print for such large type on plastic.

MC fastens the top portion of our sign to the front wall of our shanty.

We wait to attach the lower portion of our sign until we assemble our shanty on the lake.

And this is where our LETTERPRESS sign now lives, on Medicine Lake. The front wall of our shanty is both letterpress and print.

We look forward to seeing you in print and on the ice, starting this Saturday, January 14.

Follow @shantyquarian on Twitter. Tag your tweets with #shantyQ to get published on an old-fashioned press on the ice.