Intro- Music starts
Speaking starts at 3:13
Carr: When I’m cutting punches, I’m evolving the image I have in my mind of a letter, and I say that I’m evolving it because the image is always imperfect. I put it into my mind, I see other letters, and I put an image of the letter I want to make. Maybe I put it on paper, but still I put it into my mind, and whatever is in my mind is what I cut.
Carr: When there is an “other”, someone not yourself or something not yourself, new thoughts, new ideas, new sources can come from that. And sometimes that can be a resistance. Sometimes resistance can be one of the most positive things that you do- you could run into. When you have something that resists, then you have to adapt as well as be able to see a way through.
Ferrari: The reason why sound and these other senses are important on the keyboard is because when you’re keyboarding, you look at the text but you do not see what you’re outputting, so to speak. You actually see only holes being punched in a paper ribbon. So you have to be aware of where you are in the text, what mistakes you’re making in the text as you’re making them, and what other things are going on around, viscerally.
Ferrari: The sound of the keyboard is one of the things that affects my pace and rhythm, and I tend to work in a way that I am aware of the spacing throughout the whole text as I’m working. I’m aware of the movement and the tightness, or how wide the text is, and throughout the whole of the setting of the text, the setting of the manuscript, I have to maintain that awareness from the beginning to the end, and that’s one of the things that I do with my mind and my body, but also with my awareness of the sound. You can play it like a musical instrument.
Carr: When I’m casting type, I’m operating a machine, but the machine operates at a level that’s not easy to measure directly; the casting conditions happen too fast and the type is too small. So, I have found that I have to learn other means to determine how the machine is working, and I find that what I do is I listen to the machine’s casting cycle and observe its rhythms [pause] and each size of type needs a different rhythm, a different speed, because the settings of the pump pressure, and the seating, and the nozzle seating timing, all create a rhythmic music.
Carr: These parts of the process don’t really give us the same connection to the hand that we have in punchcutting, or hand-setting type, or book-binding, or even in keyboarding, but through other senses there’s a certain connection to the body that helps inform good work. [pause] I think it’s what I really like about letterpress- is that you work at a scale that has a physical relationship to the body. You don’t have the option to go in at a super enlarged scale and make minute changes- you have to make something look right with materials that aren’t perfect. When I work on the computer I can blow it up many hundreds of times larger than it is, and I can do a perfect job, but when I scale it back down to its size, I don’t tend to really get the same excitement that I get from the letterpress. I think its because the letterpress leaves a little bit for an error, and then you have to decide where the error is going to be. And in a way, when you decide where the error is going to be, you put a spin-a little bit of a tonal coloring to your own taste of how the letters should be spaced between one another. And that creates a life that is missing when you get mathematical perfection.
Carr: Sometimes there is a look that you can create by adding another sheet of tissue in the packing, and creating a little bit more pressure, or by deciding that instead of printing dry you’re going to print damp, or vice versa. And it changes to look of each letterform so that within certain narrow parameters, the actual image of the impressed type can be altered right up to this last point in time. You can alter it by adding an extra layer of ink; you could change the height of the rollers so that you’re kissing it off, or so that you bring it down a little and its wiping down a little onto the edge of the type. Not much, but within certain narrow parameters you can really vary that impression quite a bit. And this makes it much more exciting. A little time consuming, and occasionally it makes the pressman somewhat overly-attentive on the run.
Ferrari: I think in an alternative mode of work, there are times when you have to sustain the discomfort of the unknown. Instead of grasping and holding on and not wanting anything to change, we’ve always kind of allowed change to happen, to allow ourselves to find what the path is than to dictate the path. The path isn’t always visible. You have to be willing to walk in that place, that unknown-that darkness, until an opening occurs.
Ferrari: Binding is something that proceeds at a totally different pace. There’s much less sound involved-it really doesn’t rely on sound, its really more about “feel”. It’s a much slower process. All the other work is gathered together and tied in a way-tied into one bundle. It’s a very meditative act.
Carr: One of the key advantages of working together is the development of a sense of comraderie, a certain sense of being both involved in an adventure that’s larger than it could have possibly been by yourself. And certainly, there are challenges.
Ferrari: In life, things seemingly don’t work because of basic differences with individuals. By just continuing at it for a period of time, those things become less “obstacles” than “avenues” to understanding. That’s something that I’ve discovered, is that by pushing through this resistance of two people having to work together-which I think is the hardest thing in the world to do. And for us, we just embarked on this without having the slightest clue that it was the hardest thing to do. And yet, we persevered, we kept going, we let the work- the love of the work- keep us going. And inevitably, having it augment instead of taking away from our work.
Carr: it is an adventure, and even the smallest things, the smallest decisions that we have to make together become more like an adventure, because there’s two of us. Two of us who are working in the same direction, even though we have such different interests. Certainly it is not the easiest thing in the world, but then again the easiest thing is not always the best.