A Visit to the Samurai Exhibit (At Last!)

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This weekend, we finally made it to the (last day of the) Samurai exhibit at the Portland Art Museum - and it was well worth the wait! The exhibit was the first museum tour of a private collection and was only being shown at a few museums worldwide, and Portland's was the only stop on the west coast, so we felt very privileged to be able to see it. 

The collection (which was much bigger than I was expecting!) was pieced together over the years by a family from Texas and represents one of the largest of its kind in the world. On our way out, we stopped in the gift shop and got the exhibition book, which has a really interesting essay written by the collector about how his passion for samurai armor began. The book itself is huge and filled with essays written by samurai scholars - and, of course, photos of each piece from the collection. 

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What an incredible collection it was! The amount of care put into the tiniest detail was something that spoke to us, being crafters of (at times) very meticulous pieces. 

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There were so many different types of helmets! It almost seemed as though no two samurai would have ever had the same one. It was really different than the armor at the European armor court I grew up loving to visit - that seems much more restrained and standardized in comparison. The samurai warrior seemed much more individualized to each warrior.

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I could have stayed for days, looking at every last thing - it seemed like there were inspiring details everywhere. I'm really glad we got the book, so we can look through it over and over again and find interesting bits that we haven't ever seen before.

All in all, it was a very inspiring trip to the museum, and a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

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Sign Painters (the film)

SIGN PAINTERS (OFFICIAL TRAILER) from samuel j macon on Vimeo.

On Friday, we were lucky enough to see

Sign Painters

, a fantastic documentary about the craft of sign painting. It was a rare instance where we knew about a film before it even premiered, thanks to AIGA Portland. When we found out that it was showing in Portland - and that it was being sponsored, as a part of TypeCon, and thus

free

- we knew we had to go.

It's nearing the end of its tour, but if you have the chance to see it - go! It features so many interesting people, who (like the directors said at the Q&A after the film) could have documentaries made about them alone. It hit so close to home for us because the paths of the sign painting industry and the letterpress printing industry are so similar. From huge industries to near death (thanks to not only technology but also changing cultural values) to recent new beginnings and potential rebirth.

To hear so many people eloquently express why handcrafted work matters - things that we've tried to convey about our work but haven't done nearly as good a job as them - was really moving and inspiring. It's due to be released on DVD and to download later this year, so if it's not coming to your town, you can still see it!

Highly, highly recommended.

The Cleveland Museum of Art

Growing up, I never realized how lucky I was to be able to go to the Cleveland Museum of Art all the time. It has one of the best collections in the country (and world), and it's free! They recently finished a huge addition and renovation, which started years and years ago, so we knew we had to go. All of the new areas look great, and the collection is just so wide in its scope. It's like the Met - everything from European painting to Iranian textiles to ancient pottery. It's definitely not a one-day museum, so I guess that means we'll just have to return sometime soon - I didn't even get to see the Egyptian mummies I liked so much as a kid!

It's a great place to go for inspiration -

There are enough photos to keep us busy for a while! Now, we just need to make our first visit to the Portland Art Museum...

a trip to timberline!

So - I guess we should post the rest of the images from our June trip before it's not even summer anymore! After our

drive out to the coast

, we went the same distance east and climbed up into the mountains - until we got to the biggest one, Mt Hood! First, we stopped at a short trail that followed part of the Oregon Trail. The rocky area you see above is the place where wagons were lowered down on ropes. We were lucky to visit during the beginning of the rhododendrons blooming, they were everywhere and it was so pretty.

Next stop was Timberline Lodge, a place we'd wanted to visit since before we even moved here. Built in the 1930s by the WPA, with locally sourced stone and lumber. We walked through the building and couldn't stop marvelling at the craftsmanship throughout. Even the littlest details had lots of care put into them - there was just a special feel about it. When you step out onto the front balcony, you really do feel like you're on top of the whole world - everything is spread out before you and you can see the mountains and forest for miles and miles. It definitely won't be our only visit!

sneak peek - pietra

(see more inspiration

here

)

We're in the midst of printing more and more wedding suites, so we thought we'd give you a sneak peek at the inspiration behind (and the process of printing) one of our soon-to-be-released styles, Pietra. Our inspiration for this suite, like many of our designs, came from a typeface. Two in this case! The one on top of the photo above is called Hadriano, was designed by Goudy, and is modelled after a Roman inscription that he saw in the Louvre. The second font has a million names and releases, but they all were inspired by the handwriting of a 15th century Medici scribe whose name was Sinibaldi, shown above.

We thought two Italian-inspired typefaces - one from the Roman era and one from the Renaissance - were a perfect fit for each other. And so we looked at all things Italian and neo-classical and baroque and came up with Pietra. (Once again, our incredibly inventive naming came into play - Pietra means stone in Italian!) It's going to be printed in two colors - pink and black - and on two papers - cream and pale grey. We're excited to show you when it's finished!

Here are some process photos from when we printed the first half, in pink -

Ink
Ornaments
Save the Date
Printing

We're finishing the second half later this week and will show you the completed set soon! Until then -