Monday, February 16, 2009

Wrong Turn Yields Highlight of Day

(Above) Hammerpress, at 110 S.W. Boulevard, Kansas City, MO 64108
(Above) R.: Shari Bussmann, Paul Bussmann, Teenuh Foster, Bobby Howsare (behind desk) and Brady Vest, owner of Hammerpress.
(Above) Brady talks about his letterpress studio.
(Above) Paul Bussmann, principal of Paul Bussmann LLC, a design boutique in St. Louis, presents for the camera a sweet poster by Hammerpress.
(Above) An inside view of the working shop, with drawers and cabinets full of lead type.
(Above) Stacks of letterpress letters and wood blocks sit at the ready.
(Above) Every nook and cranny at Hammerpress was a photo op for me. I loved it!
(Above) Brady discussing a labor of love—a book project he did with a friend. It was a museum-worthy result.
(Above) A wall of snapshots was an unexpected surprise.
(Above) A Heidelberg press awaits Monday labor.
(Above) A typographic wedding invitation on display.
(Above) Here is a hand-calligraphied envelope by Betsy Dunlap.
(Above) Detail of above.

SO, HERE WE ALL ARE, the four of us, (Paul Bussmann and his wife Shari, my wife Teenuh Foster and myself) leaving Saturday morning from Kansas City, when we miss our turn for the interstate. This was one of many wrong turns that entire trip so by this point we were punch drunk from turning left when we should have turned right. Seeing our exit too late to respond we found ourselves on S.W. Boulevard heading in some direction I couldn’t say. Suddenly our humorous malaise was broken by Paul who shouted “Whoa-whoa-whoa... HOLD THE DANGED BOAT! SHARI, turn around!!! A letterpress shop! Look at THAT! I want to see that!” [Paul can spot a letterpress shop from a mile away.]

Quick as a whip, Shari made a quick left and into a parking spot like it was meant to be. Off we went, led by Paul, who was the original eagle eye and now our guide, and the others, followed in the rear by me, skipping and hopping along with my newly banged up ligament-torn leg—which added at least some humor to our sad journey for the funeral of our friend, Dave Holt.

Turns out the shop was called Hammerpress and was founded in 1994 by Brady Vest, who was kind enough to let us run rampant through the shop like children on a sugar high. “Hey Paul... over here!” was a common whispered shout.. or “Fos-ter... check THIS out!”

The shop was just so genuine and real, all of us could feel the high degree of creativity that went into it’s creation and everyday work. Everything about the place felt right—from the working Vandercook press to the lead type to the make-ready sheets piled high to the old typewriters and other cool stuff too numerous to mention. We left feeling we had discovered something rather extraordinary.

You certainly do not have to live in Kansas City to have Brady Vest and Hammerpress do your next letterpress project. I know you are thinking about it—so pick up the phone and call him at 816.421.1929.


Kim and David said...

You just don't find places like this anymore. Great wrong turn!Love the snaps on the wall.

Tattered and Lost said...

What a find! Beautiful work. Last time I had any letterpress work done was around '93 and everything was done in Mexico because nobody in the US was set up to do it anymore. I'll keep this place on file.

Anonymous said...

This is really a great resource. WOW!

Liz Sullivan said...

wow john... a wonderful silver lining. as always, thanks for the great stories. liz

South City Shiner said...

Hammerpress is my idol and muse ..!! :)

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