The creative community in Portland is one of the best. For the Winslow Homer product line, we got to work with some of the finest folks in town. Martha Kearsley, owner of Strong Arm Bindery, is one of them. We came to Martha months ago, with the idea of turning some of our favorite Homer quotes into broadsides. Popularized hundreds of years ago, broadsides were the most common form of printed page between the 16th and 19th century. One of the most compelling and memorable forms of print, we felt broadsides were the perfect format for some of Homer's quirky, insightful, and audacious quotes and musings. Tucked away in an 1846 locomotive foundry on Portland's east end, Strong Arm Bindery was the perfect place to inspire this project, as we rummaged through piles of wood type and worked with Martha to create some bold and stunning broadsides for Portland Museum of Art.
"Working with Might & Main on the Homer Broadsides was, by far, one of my favorite professional collaborations.
The broadsides were printed on a Vandercook proof press (Universal I) -- it's a letterpress machine that was initially designed to print the proof of a form that would then be sent on to a more production-oriented press once corrections were made and everything passed muster. All the type used for the broadsides was wood type. It's very likely that most of the type used in this project were born at Hamilton.
What stood out most about the whole experience, initially, was Might & Main's recognition of the unique resources available in a shop like mine. But then came their unbridled curiosity and willingness to immerse themselves in every part of the process. That proved to be a great delight to me, and led to a thoroughly productive partnership. Early on, Might & Main had determined a set of quotes from Winslow Homer that they wanted letterpress printed in the form of broadsides, and they came to the shop to take a survey of the wood type I had available. Two weeks later they were back in the shop with me, choosing the type, setting the lines, then proofing lines on the press, and designing the layout of each broadside (even cutting and pasting with scissors and tape, and I believe they are better designers for it!) They had the good sense to let me set the type and do the final print run on my own (it's a very small print shop and there's usually cussing during this part), but that speaks to their trust in my work, and their methodology. They get in there and learn how things are made, they work with you to design a beautiful piece, and then they let you bust it out. As I've said before, they are total dreamboats to work with."
- Martha Kearsley, Strong Arm Bindery