Remember December: Making a Typographic Pilgrimage in My Old Backyard

Souvenirs from Up North.

Souvenirs from Up North.

The sun rose over the lake as I stepped outside to get in a run before heading to the morning’s workshop. Subfreezing temperatures were once a familiar part of life to me, but not anymore. My Californian constitution couldn’t handle it and the amount of layers I wore for a 4-mile jog was quite comical.

An hour plus hot shower later, I revved up the heat and the classic rock station in my rental car to head to what is familiar to me now: an international community of type designers – this weekend joining the letterpress and printing community – for the ninth annual Hamilton Wayzgoose at the Hamilton Woodtype and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

For a dozen years I lived less than 90 miles south of this holy site for the typographic set, but had no idea about its existence. It certainly surprised me that after I uprooted my life and moved back to the West Coast in 2011 that every time my cheesehead past came up with type folks they’d assumed I’d been to the hallowed ground.

So despite the frigid temperatures, I was super excited to finally be able to check this item off my list. I was also pretty stoked to see the new Enquirer Exhibit that I was involved with through my role at Typekit. But most of all, I couldn’t wait to meet the amazing museum staff, particularly Bill & Jim Moran, Stephanie Carpenter, and Tootsie Summers, who I’d been emailing with for such a long time.

Nothing about the trip disappointed, in fact it exceeded all of my expectations! My first day I got to take a typographic collage workshop with Gail Anderson from SVA, who later gave an incredibly entertaining keynote; meet a longtime Hamilton volunteer who was a retired physics professor who now has an affinity for woodtype; take a tour of the giant facility (I was truly blown away at how big the museum was, nevermind the size of the collections); and enjoy a delicious Friday night fish dinner with new and old friends.

I never thought I’d be in rural Wisconsin hearing talks from Brad Vetter, Jenny Wilkson, Jonathan Hoefler, and the French siblings – it was admittedly quite surreal, but I loved it. Not to mention getting to do fun touristy things with type folks like go to the “home of the ice cream sundae” or late-night cosmic bowling at Rudy’s Lanes.

On Sunday afternoon I said my many goodbyes (or “see ya next times”) and took some solitude in the nearby Point Beach State Forest to reflect on my delightful type adventure and how much my life has changed in the almost seven years since I called Wisconsin my home. Then I drove down I-43 to distribute woodtype gifts to a handful of Milwaukee friends and spread the gospel of the gem up the lake.