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Val Lucas

“Documenting the Engraving of Display Matrices on a Modified Preis Engraver: The Process of Jim Walczak at Sycamore Press and Typefoundry”

The process of typecasting in the United States is quickly becoming a lost art. A handful of small commercial foundries are in operation, with few making their own new designs. Val Lucas of Bowerbox Press proposes to document and pass on the process for creating new casting matrices for metal types so that printers may continue using traditional methods for new designs. One of the few typecasters able to create new matrices is Jim Walczak of Sycamore Press and Typefoundry.

Walczak began casting printing type in 1985 and has kept alive many of the processes used in this craft. He acquired a batch of equipment, including a modified Preis Panto Utility Engraver from typecaster Paul Hayden Duensing in 2006. Jim continues to use this machine to create custom designs and replacement sorts, and there is no existing documentation on his engraving process.

The fellowship will support research to fully document Jim’s current engraving process and piece together Duensing’s process from sparse notes and a few published articles to allow the continuation of this process for creating new matrices and help keep this branch of typefounding alive. The project would entail spending time at Jim’s shop, documenting his steps from beginning drawing to finished matrix ready for the caster. Lucas will document the process with video recordings, and written process notes that can be used as a guide for repeating this process in other shops. Lucas would like to create a written, illustrated guide, as well. Fully documenting Jim’s process will add to the pool of knowledge in the small remaining typecasting community.