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Thank you, Jack – a tribute to Jack Stauffacher


September 16, 2023
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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North Bay Letterpress Arts
925d Gravenstein Hwy South
Sebastopol, CA 95472 United States
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Andrew Mecum

A self-taught printer, book designer, and craftsman, Jack Stauffacher has fostered a lifelong fascination with the craft of printing. He was only 16 years old when he established the Greenwood Press in 1936 in a small building behind his family’s house in San Mateo, California, and he had published a number of volumes by his late twenties.

In 1955 Stauffacher won a Fulbright grant to study for three years in Florence, Italy. There he met Giovanni Mardersteig and Alberto Tallone, who inspired Stauffacher’s deep interest in historic printing techniques and their relationship to place. He returned to the United States to teach at the Carnegie Institute of Technology before moving back to California to become typographic director at Stanford University Press.

Since the 1960s Stauffacher has been experimenting with repetitive inking techniques, all the while exploring the ways in which the mind, hand, type, ink, and paper come together. These explorations allow him to leave behind the rigidity and precision of traditional typography and embrace the medium’s potential for randomness and spontaneity.

A local printer, Holly Downing, and myself have put together this tribute event. She worked with Jack on a book called ARCH, and actually brought him by NBLA many years ago. So it seemed not only relevant but necessary to honor his life and legacy. For the first hour we will have friends and colleagues share stories and memories of Jack. Again, this isn’t enough time to even scrape the surface, but it’s a start. In the second hour, we will have live printing on the press, done in the spirit of Jack’s Saturday explorative works. We are inviting guests to pick a single character and build impromptu formes to play with and explore… and see what happens. For those more interested to continue sharing stories and chatting amongst themselves, this is also encouraged.

This is free for NBLA members, for NON members we are accepting sliding scale donations at the event, $25 being the recommended amount.

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We will have light food and drinks to keep everyone in good spirits.