Since 2007 I have been increasingly involved in researching printing history, rescuing and restoring old equipment, and practicing the craft. This grew out of my experiences as an author, observing the publishing industry rapidly changing and realizing that everything was going digital. It seemed to me that a viable niche would remain for printed books – that of hand-set, foot-treadled, hand-bound limited editions. Books as carefully and consciously designed works of art. With the old equipment, one could even produce a book, from beginning to end, completely off the grid. For example, the press shown above is an 1892 Shneidewend & Lee platen press operated by a foot treadle. It is the centerpiece of the home shop of Oak Root Press.
In early 2013 I formally inaugurated what will become a non-profit, called the Traditional Book Arts Museum and Printing Office. It is dedicated to printing history, demos and workshops, and restoring antique printing machines. Learn more about it. Current projects underway include a Campbell “Century Pony” Press which was operated in Leadville, Colorado around 1900 and a Cranston single-revolution newspaper press (this is depicted in the front page banner for this website). Both presses were saved from being scrapped.
I’ve printing a variety of projects since 2007, including posters, poetry broadsides, greeting cards, business cards, wedding invitations, boxes, and CD covers. Oak Root Press will very soon be releasing its first limited-edition book, a collection of Tryptagonal poetry I wrote while visiting the Maya temples.