This past Saturday was the second day of my letterpress class at Signal Return in Detroit's Eastern Market. I got there a little early in order to find the beignet truck and a good latte. I was nearly distracted by the aromas that tempted me with falafel and sausages; by the vendors with their spectrum of produce; the monochromatic, textured fungus. Even the brownie from Mindo Chocolate, which promptly blew my mind (Really, I have never tasted a brownie with such wild and indiscernible flavors.) was not quite breakfast-y enough to distract me from my mission for ethereal pillows of fried dough. Walking down the street, I marveled at this metropolitan marketplace, in full swing at 9:30 am on a Saturday. The orderly chaos of booths, eclectic foodways, and faces, each with a different story aroused in me a sense of homecoming, of always having belonged.
Just around the corner and down the street from the dense choreography of weekend mercantilism, is the print shop with its quiet brick exterior. Bright green doors and window frames are the first indicator of the creativity housed inside. It is a one room shop and studio, lit from one side by natural light in a room that is sectioned-off according to activity, but visually open. We jumped right in with a brief review of the presses we'd be using. Each one, a little different. The staff and instructors were friendly and encouraging, suggesting groups with which to network, places to show my bookbinding , and admiring my work as I admired theirs. Sometimes peers (co-creatives) can be the most intimidating groups to approach, because of an implied (sometimes explicit) culture of comparison. But all day, I sensed only genuine enthusiasm for the way that each of our individual class members were hoping to take and incorporate letterpress into their artistic disciplines.
We worked, two to a press, learning as we went. In the end, our own creativity resulted in something tangible: a set of cards to use, give-away, sell and gift.. I took a lot of photos, because the space is full of colors, textures, and letters (of course!). And though I wanted to simply experience it, something inside of me felt it necessary to also observe and document.
I returned home overladen with possibility, brimming with ideas. And three days later, I have not emerged from my transcendent glow. I will be back.