June 30th, 2017
Watching Nikolas Wise, 28, assist Sandy Tilcock, 67, in the lone goose press studio, you’d think they’ve been working together for decades instead of six years.
“We click,” Sandy says. “Nik works hard. He is very into the process as well as the result, and we have fun at the same time.”
“And he doesn’t fuck up too many prints,” Nik replies with a wisp of a smile while wiping a demanding plate in a fluid figure eight motion. Technique supplemented by voodoo and prayer.
I’m the lucky author of their third photopolymer photogravure project. Pub date for Opening the Mouth of the Dead, a story in poems by lone goose press, is Sept. 7, 2017 in two editions: paperback and limited-edition letterpress with artwork by Margot Voorhies Thompson.
“It’s looking good sweetie,” Sandy says pointing to a corner, too light in a previous pull. “We’re getting the feel for this that we want. I really love the way it fades out.”
Nik agrees as he leans over to study an abstracted eye print. “I basically don’t touch the corner after the first wipe.”
They choreograph two plates at a time. Nik wipes one while Sandy cranks the press on the other. Their focus is sharp, their banter playful. And so it goes, except for morning and afternoon breaks and lunch. Those breaks on the patio outside the studio are as integral to the process as the work within, Sandy says.
They met in 2011 when Nik called Sandy in his senior year in fine art printmaking at the University of Oregon with a technical question about making wood type from scratch. And he jumped at the chance Sandy offered to ink the plates for All of Him, a four-year, limited-edition collaboration with poets Michael and Matthew Dickman and artist Keith Achepohl.
Nik lives in Portland where he designs and produces specialized web applications and owns Department Press, a publishing house and design studio. Department offers both traditional techniques and creative and affordable approaches to artists. Recently he’s pleased with a re-purposed Japanese copier. “Good results; capital and time greatly lowered,” he says. “$200 bucks and ready in a week.”
Nik describes a seminal Sandy moment when he noticed the precise kern (space) between a v and period in her 10-point lead type.
“I leaned in to admire it and realized Sandy had cut and filed to get a small tight kern,” Nik says. “A 10-point period is fly-shit small.”
“What you do is frankly insane,” he says as Sandy leans over to admire Nik’s attention to tonality.
“Maybe that should be on my tombstone,” she replies, shifting the conversation to mortality. Which quickly swerves to ink and how to choose between many blacks, including one made of roasted bones.
“Grind me up to bone black and put me on a plate,” Nik says.
Nik is 40 years younger than Sandy, mindful of extending her legacy. “I’ve learned lots and lots and lots about the level of professionalism it takes to run your own studio,” he says. “My primary goal is to take what I can from Sandy’s practice and keep it active.”
Sandy has goals too: “To help him in his endeavor when I scale back, identifying the items that will be most helpful to him.”
They are pleased with the progress of the first day on Opening the Mouth of the Day. The stack of keepers is tall, the number of rejects small. Nik has cleaned the bone black off the plates and his hands and is doing some tai chi to relax his arms.
Nine hours, 70 pulls. Seven to nine more days likely needed. This before the poems are printed and the binding begins.
“You show up and do the work and do the best you can,” Nik says during an end-of-the-day beer with Sandy and me. “And then you are done.”
On cue, Rosie, Sam and Cali, surround Nik with sticks and toys. Lone goose’s canine assistants are certain that Nik drives from Portland to play with them, not Sandy.
May 17th, 2017
It has been an exciting journey over the past year as the design for Catherine Woodard’s poem cycle Opening the Mouth of the Dead has evolved. The publication date for both the trade edition and the limited-edition letterpress version has been set for September 2017. In the next few months we will be printing the text for the limited edition on the venerable Vandercook 219, and gearing up to reproduce Margot Thompson’s evocative artwork using photopolymer photogravure plates on the etching press. It is labor-intensive, but the results are worth it. Watch for progress updates as we move into the production phase.
May 16th, 2017
Why have I chosen the Canada Goose as my totem? After living in the Willamette Valley for a few years, I became more aware of the way migrating geese marked our seasons. They passed over our city, Eugene, and often roosted at night west of town at Fern Ridge Reservoir. I heard their calls as they passed over. Sometimes, after a hard rain, they would circle all night, mistaking wet streets for the lake.
During this time, I read Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac. The book resonated with my lifelong love of the outdoors and my increasing concern for our fragile environment. Concerned for the Minnesota landscape he loved, Leopold wrote: "What...if there be no more deer in the hills, and no more quail in the coverts? No more snipe whistling in the meadow, no more piping of widgeons and chattering of teal as darkness cores the marsh; no more whistling of swift wings when the morning star pales in the east? And when the dawn-wind stirs through the ancient cottonwoods, and the gray light steals down from the hills over the old river sliding softly past its wide brown sandbars—what if there be no more goose music?"
The goose music I heard in November meant winter rains were coming. February and March goose music implied that spring was near. Today in Eugene, as in many communities, large congregations of geese have opted to live year round and we hear their music in summer and winter as well, often at morning and evening, bookending the day. I listen for them and watch for them on my daily bicycle rides along the Willamette River.
Over the years, I became more curious about these birds, their symbolism, life cycle and family life. The goose never leaves one of its kind behind. During migration, should a goose become injured, another goose will leave the flock and remain with its comrade, staying until the injured one recovers or dies. Attributes of the goose are communication, determination, fellowship, teamwork, confidence, protection, bravery and loyalty. Canada Geese have intricate methods of communication. They work as a team to communicate warnings and identify prime landing sites. They mate for life and are very protective of their young. It is said those with the goose totem are the clear communicators, defenders and compassionate keepers of the community. I strive each day to live up to those attributes and to be worthy of my totem creature.
Recently as I was riding along the river, I was thinking about the changes that our earth and political world is undergoing, and observing large Canada Goose flocks feeding near the banks. I know that the large numbers of geese are considered a nuisance due to the impact they have on our parks and farmlands. Dare we compare this with the impact we, the human population, have on the lands and environment? Who is responsible for the most damage? I have no answers, only thoughts and observations.
!(https://lonegoosepress.com/assets/img/new/goose.jpg "Cedar carving by William “Cedar” Caredio")
The above cedar carving by William “Cedar” Caredio was commissioned in 2009 for the lone goose press studio. Cedar provides this description of the origin and process of this piece:
Sun-Moon Design. The inside circle of light wood depicts three biting geese and is carved from a piece of Port Orford, Oregon (white) cedar. The wood was found on the coast in the Bandon Area. The outer red colored wood is incense cedar harvested from a dead-standing tree by Mount June in the Cascade Range (Oregon). Cedar wood is impervious to weather, which gives it lasting characteristics in the environment. It represents protection and has spiritual qualities. Native peoples of the Cascadian region burn the wood and needles as a smudge for spiritually cleansing purposes.
The three concentric circle design has Celtic roots and represents the totality of being. The innermost circle is the stage of struggle and evolution. The next circle stands for purity, and a rejoicing force. The outer circle is infinity. The center circle involving struggle and evolution has the three-goose design. The three-bird design represents three (triple), a sacred number to Celtic peoples. Early tribal stonework of Scotland is the origin of the design. The Celts and native peoples of the United Kingdom revered water birds. The birds were of the three realms: water, land, and air. The goose brings creative and productive power. To make sure the goose keeps laying golden eggs, we must keep the goose alive—well fed, well rested and well exercised.
The goose has come to symbolize seasonal change. It is a solar bird and ruled by the sun, thus its migratory habits. Two crescent-shaped moons represent the night time flight and balance the male solar energy with the female moon energy.
The carving is a landmark symbolizing the migratory route of the Canadian goose. The honking of the geese can be heard above as the endless movement of the flocks continues.
February 7th, 2017
Participating in the CODEX 2017 exhibition in February was a heady experience. Beyond the glass walls of Craneway Pavilion near the port of Richmond, California, the gulls dipped and soared in endless conversation with the wind. Weather fronts passed, rain and fog prevailed over the bay. Inside, the depth and variety of the work on display was overwhelming. Artists from around the world explored the endless variety in which books and book-like artifacts can convey the trials of the heart and the journeys of the imagination. There were elegant traditional books executed with care and passion, alongside avant-garde structures with pages made of ceramic plates or laser-cut metal sheets. The exhibition brought together heart-rending works reaching for the deepest insights and utterances of poetry and myth, and playful, outrageous, sometimes unnerving explorations of the book as object, taking us to the edge. It was a privilege to share the work of lone goose press, and the opportunity to connect with other book artists was priceless, an inspiration for years to come.
December 22nd, 2016
As the year drew to a close, we were still casting about for a text. Then an unexpected freezing rain ice storm arrived on Dec 14, the ice persisting over five days.
!(https://lonegoosepress.com/assets/img/new/Ice-Storm_12.17.16.jpg "Ice Storm")
After ice storm—Clear sky. Bare trees dazzling—Dreamlike
While the freeze was challenging in many ways, we found the landscape incredibly beautiful with sunlight dancing on the trees.
!(https://lonegoosepress.com/assets/img/new/Silver-Dusting_01.02.17.jpg "Silver dusting")
Dusting of light blue-inked branches with Silver Pearl dry pigment
!(https://lonegoosepress.com/assets/img/new/Blowing-off-Dry-Pigment_01.02.17.jpg "Blowing off dry pigment")
Blowing off excess dry pigment revealing silver branches
!(https://lonegoosepress.com/assets/img/new/Final-Press-Run_01.05.17.jpg "Weathergram on the Press")
The weathergram is now on the press and due to be completed Fri, 6 January.
If you would like one of the 2016 weathergrams, please send a stamped, self-addressed, standard #10 business envelope (4.125 x 9.5 in) to us here at the press (lone goose press, 2580 Augusta Street, Eugene, OR 97403). We wish you peace and beauty in the coming year.