The personal website of Chris Coyier

Archive for June, 2017

A Trip to The Hamilton Wood Type Museum

Friday, June 30th, 2017

The Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin is an amazing place. Miranda and I went up there for a weekend and did a full day tour/workshop thing.

Here’s a little story of the weekend through pictures.

This is a somewhat rare form of wood type, where the letterform was applied to the wood block as a thin veneer. Apparently it was only a thing from about 1880-1890, and was hugely successful for Hamilton. Shortly after, he had bought up all the competition and returned to making wood type the normal (higher quality) way.
The California Job Case is a popular layout, but apparently there are at least a dozen differnet formats. Why drawers like this don’t line at least one wall of my house seems like a temporary problem.
Wood type is with the grain going vertically, not horizontally like you might suspect if it was cut from a plank of wood. So the trees are cut into round slabs and then in half. These halfs are dried for 8 months to 2 years to harden.
This planer was built to accept the awkardly sized half rounds rather than planks of wood.
All wood type, all type in fact, is “type high” (although that varies by country, Germany’s heigh is differnet). Type here is 0.918″, which is the high of one shilling.
Wood type was sold in sets (like a “4 A” set, meaning you get four of the letter A and a number of the rest of the letters scaled appropriately). The master letters were pretty big. Smaller sizes were created by a fancy router on a hinged arm, where at the end you’d trace the letterform, and further down the inside arm a router bit would also be moving, but at a reduced scale.
This is some untrimmed wood type. Not this, but some wood type needs to be hand-chiseled as the original routing is sometimes not precise enough to get into super tight areas.
They work with all kinds of fancy typography people like Nick Sherman, Matthew Carter, and Erik Spiekerman
This is a linotype machine, otherwise known as the 8th wonder of the world. This is for setting metal type, not wood. But not just ordinary metal type. The linotype machine had a keyboard (!). You’d press a letter, and a brass master letter would set into place, then molten lead would cast that letter. Press another key, and another letter would cast into place right next to it. This allowed you create a sentence of type very quickly, which was vitally important for newspaper production. The sentences were one-use. After it was done, you’d just melt it down and re-use the lead, which all happened right on this machine. Insane.
We got to use a lot of their wood type and some of their stuff out of the “Globe Collection”, which was a lot of circus-themed wood block imagery. We used little proofing presses like this, meaning we didn’t really need to lock anything up, we just kinda placed type where we wanted and used magnets to hold stuff in place.
Rather than inking the presses, we just inked the letters directly.

Bay View Printing Company

Just a shout out to BVPC which is a letterpress shop that Miranda and I are members of right here in Milwaukee. BVPC does printing-for-hire, but also has classes, art shows, and sells stuff – just like Hamilton!

Documentaries!

There is some stuff you can watch that is related to all this:

Core Beliefs

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Imagine you’re a really young kid, but you understand what people say to you.

They tell you things in a really serious way. They tell you this is the way things are. This is the truth.

But they say it differently than they say other things. You can tell. This seems important. This isn’t to be questioned or joked about.

The people telling you these things, they are your parents. They are everything to you.

Then not just your parents say these things, your grandparents do too. Other adults say these things, too. It’s everywhere. Everybody important in your life seems to be largely in agreement.

Plus, sometimes you go to a building and these things that are very big and serious and different are being talked about there. But more. That’s all anybody talks about at this building. All these adults take this building very seriously.

These things become core beliefs. You get older. You think about more things. You understand more things about the world. Everything squares with these core beliefs, because they have to. Core beliefs are the foundation of everything. They are you.

Some new things you learn are more malleable. You learn other new things and it changes other things you know. Your understanding of the world shifts and grows. You feel smart and open minded.

But everything still squares with your core beliefs. Those don’t change. You don’t think of them as core beliefs, they are just the way things are.

Eventually, to your shock, you find some people don’t have these same core beliefs as you. They seem like idiots. These things are so obviously true. These are unshakable, foundational truths. You avoid these people.

But you can’t avoid them forever. The more you deal with these unsettling people, another shock is in store. As wrong as they are about these big truths, somehow, they aren’t actually idiots. Somehow, they are also reasoning and intelligent people.

This never gets comfortable.

ZaneRay in Whitefish, Montana

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Media Temple and I had a little contest where I’d visit some agency somewhere in the U.S. We had a bunch of great entries. The winner was ZaneRay, in Whitefish, Montana. They are a great team and we had a great time. They wrote about it here.

Chris and the Media Temple team were outstanding. They were all over the idea, flew in, spent a day driving a rented car up some gnarly dirt roads into the North Fork, hiked up Glacier View Mountain, and then met our team in the evening in West Glacier to begin a 20 mile ride into Glacier National Park. In May and June, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed while crews work to clear as much as 40 feet of snow from a road surface that sees more car per year than any other area of the park. Until the road is open though, cyclists can enjoy the ride each evening, on a road free of cars. It’s one of the truly unique experiences Glacier has to offer.

It was a great day. Stuff we learned was put to use immediately. Concepts we discussed have come up many times since the team left. As the day wore on even rounds of espresso could no longer sustain the brain drain, and we eventually moved on to a pub crawl across the nighttime scene that is Whitefish.

Newaukeean of the Week

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Published here.

Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?

I’m a web designer and developer. I work on three projects: CodePen, CSS-Tricks, and ShopTalk Show. Web work is my job, hobby, and passion, so I’m very lucky that I’ve gotten to turn it into a career of my own making.

How long have you lived in Milwaukee and what brought you here?

Just three years now. I left Palo Alto, California for here. I grew up and spent most of my life around Madison, Wisconsin. Milwaukee was a home coming. I only knew that I always liked and had fun in Milwaukee, and it didn’t feel as weird as moving back to my home city. Home, but not home-home.

What do you love most about Milwaukee?

I find it to be a damn pleasant place to live. Life is easy here. As I said, I’m a lucky guy and enjoy a heaping helping of privilege, so of course factor that into anything I say.

What is one word that you would use to describe Milwaukee?
Beer

Where do you see Milwaukee in five years?

I’d predict very slow, but steady growth.

What local restaurant is at the top of your list?

I’ve been loving Transfer Pizzeria Café.

What is your biggest hope for this city?

My biggest hope is that we can lessen the racial tension. We’re known for being an incredibly segregated city, and that’s a pretty awful thing to be known for. It would be incredible to turn that around. We’d all be better off for it.

What is your favorite Milwaukee tradition?

Mitten Fest!

What does your ideal Milwaukee weekend look like?

Maybe it’s film fest and we hit up some great movie at the Oriental on Friday night. Saturday morning wake up to a bike ride along the south shore. Mid morning partner workout at Cream City CrossFit. Quick stop at the South Shore Park Farmers’ Market for fresh veggies. Late brunch at Cafe at the Plaza. Then veg out and do nothing the rest of the day.

What neighborhood do you live in and why do you love it?

Bay View. All the cool, none of the busyness.

What’s your favorite hidden gem or secret fact about the city?

Bay View Printing Company. I’m not sure any other city anywhere as something so unique. It’s a letterpress printing shop that you can join and use to do whatever you want on your own time.

Say you’re going on a difficult 4-hour hike

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Can you make it?

Your fitness factors in. Do you do 4-hour hikes all the time? You’ll be fine. Are you a skinny little thing that skips around all day? You’ll be fine. Are you overweight and haven’t hiked that far in a year? Ya might not make it.

Your attitude factors in. Are you stoked to do it? Are you driven by the desire to make it to the end? You’ll probably make it. Are you being dragged along? Ya might not make it.

Your equipment factors in. Do you have proper shoes? Did you dress for it? Did you bring water? Good. Did you wear a t-shirt when it was 40 degrees and raining out? Ya might not make it.

Should Milwaukee shows start earlier?

Friday, June 9th, 2017

This discussion has gone on in my friend groups for years. My vote: yes, dammit.