Behind the Button: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

 

In today’s “Behind the Button” Stephanie Carpenter, the Assistant Director of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, tells us how her button design pays tribute to the museum while the typeface, HWT Geometric, is helping to preserve and promote wood type.

What inspired your Button-O-Matic design?
The museum, the factory, and the history of Hamilton inspired us. The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum is the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. With 1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles and sizes of patterns, Hamilton’s collection is one of the premier wood type collections in the world.

In addition to wood type, the museum is home to an amazing array of advertising cuts from the 1930s through the 1970s, and all of the equipment necessary to make wood type and print with it, as well as equipment used in the production of hot metal type, tools of the craft and rare type specimen catalogs. Located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, the Hamilton Manufacturing Company was the largest wood type producer in the country, when virtually everything was letterpress printed. The company was founded in 1880, and in addition to wood type, the company has manufactured medical and office furniture, light tables, and many more furniture items.

What’s your button’s message about?
The factory was good with wood. And we continue that tradition by being a working museum. Still in the same town that Hamilton wood type was manufactured, we print posters, type specimens, and restrikes from original wood type and blocks. We have also worked with type designers, Juliet Shen, Nick Sherman, and Matthew Carter to design new fonts for wood type. We are currently working with other designers to create and cut new fonts of wood type.

We are also working on other ways to preserve and promote wood type. The type we used on the button is a digitized version of wood type that is available from the Hamilton Wood Type Foundry. The museum has partnered with P22 type foundry to convert a large collection of wood type designs into digital fonts that can be used with the latest Webfont CSS and Opentype programming abilities. P22 is working with the museum and other collections of scarce printed specimens as well as actual wood type to render classic designs into fully functioning computer fonts.

What do you want people to get out of your button design?
Join us at the museum to become good with wood, too! Because, not only do the thousands of visitors who come through every year get to see how wood type was made at the factory, but students, artists, typographers and designers visit to take workshops and actually use the collection to create works of art and scholarship in our pressroom. At the museum we teach all types and actively encourage individuals of all skill levels to come learn about, and print from, wood type.

See the complete 2013 Button-O-Matic series >


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Printing at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

 

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Just a small portion of the 1.5 million pieces of wood type in the museum’s collection.