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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

What and Why is a Wayzgoose?

07WayzgooseI promised this post in celebration of the Seattle Wayzgoose at the School of Visual Concepts yesterday. It was a great event and I think I assisted well over 100 people in printing their own coasters on the little letterpress that I was informed had been named by a co-board member “Maurice.” I could have been calling it by name all this time!

I first encountered the term “wayzgoose” back in the late-80s when I was doing research for my book Publication Design. Jan V. White had published the great resource, Editing by Design and would soon release the definitive book on the subject titled Graphic Design for the Electronic Age. He included a vast amount of information on the history and lore of printing and publishing. Among the items was a two-sentence sidebar that described a “wayzgoose” as the party held by printers for their employees at the end of summer to mark the beginning of the season of working by candlelight. Further research showed that it closely coincided with the Feast of St. Luke (patron of book-binders) and other season-based celebrations like Lughnasad or Lammas. Since I was teaching some pretty intensive courses in desktop publishing and design, I started using the term in my classes and alluding to the idea that at the end of a stressful week we would have a wayzgoose party. Gradually, I adopted the term as part of my identity, and when I first got on-line in the 90s, I started using “Wayzgoose” as a screen name and email name.

08WayzgooseIn 2004, I blasted the name out widely as I used it for my Live Journal, Blogger, and NaNoWriMo screen names. This was soon followed by Facebook and Twitter. The domain name, wayzgoose.com formerly belonged to an advertising and PR agency, so I was unable to acquire it and when it was released, it was camped on by an unknown party who has yet to develop the site. So, sadly, even though I use the screen name widely and have blogs in that name, I can’t register the domain at this time. (Please don’t write to tell me all the different ways of acquiring and buying domains from other people. I know.)

Now back to the Seattle Wayzgoose. While various artists and organizations like the Seattle Center for Book Arts exhibit at the party, do demonstrations ranging from printing to book-binding, and generally try to increase people’s enthusiasm for the book arts and the programs/products they offer, there are unquestionably two major draws. The first is the equipment exchange. Various letterpress printers and typesetters bring lead type, dingbats, galley trays, spacing material, etc. and offer it for sale. Where else could you pick up an entire case of 8pt. Garamond type for just $15? It was all I could do to resist acquiring a set of 36 pt. Text font for just $30! (Unfortunately, $30 that will be needed on my cross-country author tour.)

09WayzgooseThe other big draw is the Steamroller Smackdown. Many printing artists, some individual and some in teams, bring their poster-sized artwork as a linoleum cut. Long tables are set up where the artists can set out their plates and ink them. When you are inking a plate this size, it takes time—especially if you are doing multi-color work with a single pass as the artist in the adjoining photo. After the plate is inked, it is placed on the plywood base, covered with poster paper, a pad, and another sheet of plywood, then driven over by a steamroller. Once the roller has made its single pass, the plywood and pad are lifted then the paper is carefully removed to reveal the poster. The finished works are hung from the balcony rails of the school to dry and be judged. Many of them are sold or raffled to excited buyers.

11Wayzgoose It kind of makes me wish I was driving a steamroller across the country on my author tour instead of my Prius! Ah well, next time.

But speaking of the tour, we are just four days away from departure on Thursday, Sept 1. Today, I’m turning the dining room into a staging area with the table doubling for a mockup of the cargo area of the Prius so we can determine exactly how everything will fit on my 30-day trip. Books, clothes, electronics, printing press, food, emergency supplies. Oh yes! driver and passenger.

This entry is cross-posted to Live Journal, The Rubricant, and Facebook (by way of Live Journal). Please follow the daily author tour blog at The Rubricant for all the latest information as I head out on the trip! Only one or two posts a week will show up in LJ and FB.