How 100-Year-Old Wood Adds Meaning to Christmas

Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Last week I spent a hands-on day at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI. What a great day! For all you typophiles (yes, there’s actually a forum for you), Hamilton is the largest collection of wood type, wood cuts and historic printing machines in the world. It’s a fully functional museum, which means artists, typographers and letterpress wannabes like me can spend a day playing with paper, ink and über alt alphabets.

Like the cool dudes in this picture.

mural of men who worked at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing

Actually these men may or may not have done printing. As craftsmen for Hamilton Manufacturing Company, they were the oomph of the collections we have today. They cut and sanded logs of wood. They carved and refined letters. They were the master makers of wood type.

The original company, called J.E. Hamilton Holly Wood Type Company, was founded in 1880 and within 20 years was the largest manufacturer of wood type in the United States. Even as letterpress printing gave way to newer technologies, Hamilton continued producing wood type until the end of the 20th century. Today the company is Hamilton Scientific.

Display cases at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

So now we have the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum! With 1.5 million pieces of wood type and 45,000 square feet of space, it makes for a jaw-dropping, creativity-cranking museum and workshop.

Pantograph at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Before we started with our printing, assistant director Stephanie Carpenter led us on an informational tour. She’s a great guide and knows her stuff well. She proudly explained the museum’s dedication to the preserving wood type production, including carving letters with this original pantograph machine. Once a month a now-90-year-old, retired Hamilton employee tutors two staff members on this highly skilled craft.

Letterpress printer at Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum, Two Rivers, WI

How many you dream of owning a letterpress like this? Join throngs of like-minded Ebay shoppers and prepare to spend oodles. In the meantime, the Hamilton museum has a full display of presses from throughout the industry’s history. Imagine the pages they printed back in the day!

Linotype at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Two Rivers, WI

After letterpress came linotype. Hamilton Manufacturing Company didn’t produce linotype machines, however the museum has a wonderful display for this era of printing.

print workshop at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

And then we started our own printing! Probably like most first timers, I completely underestimated how meticulous and time consuming setting type by hand can be. I quickly simplified my design.

print workshop at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

Caution! Wet Ink! Arcint Architecture owners Edward Haydin and Ryan Thacker made these stunning posters to commemorate their firm’s second anniversary. What a great idea! (This upcoming year marks a big one for Adunate—I may head back up to Two Rivers and make posters of my own.)

Adunate Christmas Card 2014

Ta-da! And here’s my final product. I never got into scrapbooking or stamping, simply because it’s one more hobby I would find myself obsessing over. But, hey, this printing, punching holes and threading jute by hand…after spending hours at the computer, it’s a tactual delight!

Adunate Christmas Card 2014

The best thing about making your own cards—writing your own message.

Adunate Christmas Card 2014

Merry Christmas to everyone, especially my dear customers. God’s blessings to you in 2015!

Wednesday Webs: The Gales of November


November is well upon us. What is it they say, the gales of November? I think of this on my morning walks when the air feels dark and the wind has sharpened. On a cozier note, November also initiates the season of togetherness. We tuck ourselves in, light a fire, and begin planning for the holidays.

The Nostalgia of Chalkboard

blackboard art by AdunateI asked my father-in-law to make me a chalkboard for my birthday. Isn’t it cool? You can’t see it in this picture, but the bottom portion of the frame is a storage box for the chalk and eraser. I love it!

Chalkboard art is everywhere these days. Maybe it’s because we no longer use these scholarly slates in the classroom that we’re drawn to their nostalgic quality? Who knows. Whatever it is, we seem to find chalkboard art most appealing. So, my plan was to write a daily note—you know, just kind of whip off something artistically profound and inspire everyone with my wisdom and calligraphy. Yeah, right.

Anyway, because I’m using the board for an upcoming project, I’ve been researching chalkboard art online. Wow, it’s really become a highly developed medium (obviously one I’ve not yet mastered). Here’s an article on Dana Ranamachi, who’s making a career of sketching these stunning boards.

For you DIYers, bloggist Leslie from Gwen Moss wrote this helpful “10 Things You Should Know About Chalkboard Art.” The Dear Lille blog also offers helpful tutorials, as well as lovely pieces you can buy.

And here’s why my daily quips never made it past Day 1: Carla Hackett. I don’t have her speed. I don’t have her finesse. Above all, I don’t speak with the wisdom of Kemi Nekvapil.

Maybe I’ll update my board monthly.

Or quarterly.



Wednesday Webs: The Art of the Ampersand


Ampersands are the funnest typographical character (even more than the letter A, which I also love). And because I’m using an ampersand in an upcoming project, I’ve been obsessing over them wherever I can find them.

Such a bold, expressive character, yes?



Hamilton Wood Type Preserves a Magnificent Print

Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Two Rivers, Wis.

This week I dragged my husband and son out of our holiday hibernation and up to the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

What a cool place!

Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Two Rivers, Wis.

The museum is located in an age-old manufacturing plant used by the Hamilton Manufacturing Company, now known as Thermo Scientific. The building is as interesting as the wood type.

Hamilton Wood Type & Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Wooden letters are everywhere! The museum has 1.5 million pieces of wood type in more than 1,000 styles and sizes. It also has an amazing collection of advertising cuts from the 1930s through the 1970s.

pantograph at Hamilton Wood Type & Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Back in the day, type cutters used this pantograph router to cut new letters while tracing an old letter. Hamilton manufactured wood type until the late 1980s.

Hamilton Wood Type & Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Hamilton made the drawer pulls too. Aren’t they a wonderful contrast to the modern label-maker strips?

Letterpress ink at Hamilton Wood Type & Museum, Two Rivers, WI

 Ink and supplies from the old days.

Hamilton Wood Type & Museum, Two Rivers, WI

The museum’s 40,000 square feet is packed with antique machinery — presses, sanders and so much more. They’re beautiful.

lithograph machine at Hamilton Wood Type & Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Lithograph printing: An era that followed letterpress.

Learn letterpress at Hamilton Wood Type & Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Hamilton offers letterpress seminars and opportunities to use its equipment. I’m so planning to sign up for a class!

Artists customarily leave a sample of their work so the museum walls are truly a gallery. Aren’t they fun?

Letterpress blocks, Hamilton Wood Type & Museum

Wood Type: I think they’re so beautiful! Their use in letterpress is such an important part of our printing history, and, interestingly, it’s an art form being revitalized today.

Thanks Hamilton Wood Type & Museum for making this happen!