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Wayzgoose Tacoma serves up food for thought

Moving from page to stage once again at King's Books

ARTIST CHRIS SHARP: He'll be making impressions during Wayzgoose Sunday at King's Books. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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Traditionally, a wayzgoose was a party thrown by a master printer. Now that we are in the age of Kindles and Nooks, the term just means a party thrown by or for printers and literary sorts.

Tacoma's Wayzgoose is headed up by King's Books owner sweet pea Flaherty and letterpress printer Jessica Spring. Local printing artists show off their wares and set up hands-on activities for all to try. Be prepared to take home a sample of something you (or your kids) made right onsite!

"We expand the focus each year," says Flaherty. "It used to be just letterpress, and since then we've included comic artists, bookbinders and a little bit of everything."

Tacoma has a surprisingly large number of printers and many of them show up for King's Wayzgoose, some have been attending since the event's first year. Beautiful Angle, made up of graphic designer Lance Kagey and writer Tom Llewellyn, have been at the Wayzgoose since the beginning. This year, they will be designing a print for the steamroller press. Jessica Spring is also on her eighth year and will be here with her letterpress.

"Jessica Spring always says it's because it's a working-class town so people are used to doing things with their hands and that's why book printing has caught on here," says Flaherty.

This year brings a number of new artists, too. One of the coolest is Kyle Durrie of Moveable Type in Portland. Durrie converted a 22-foot 1982 Chevy van (it looks a lot like a food truck) into a mobile letterpress. She has toured the nation with this cool contraption, and will bring it with her.

Other first-time Wayzgoose artists include print artist Beth Howe from Canada; Bianca Ponnekanti, the 10-year-old proprietor of Fashionista Cards in Tacoma; and Constellation & Co - a husband and wife team from Seattle who create greeting cards, broadsides and other custom work.

Another repeating-yet-always-awesome sight to see is steamroller printing. Tacoma Arts Commission sponsors this unconventional printing method, and each year King's tweaks the process a bit. This year, the print size will change to three-by-three feet and the layers getting smooshed under the steamroller may be different.

"In the past, we have made a plywood sandwich and rolled over that with the steamroller," says Flaherty. "But this year I think we're just putting down the paper or a blanket."

Several artists will carve linoleum plates to create steamroller prints this year, as will some student groups from Charles Wright Academy and Stadium High School.

"My favorite thing just as a producer of the festival is the wonder on people's faces, but especially from the kids," says Flaherty. "There's such a disconnect from physically making books these days, when people find out they can bind their own books, it kind of blows their mind. But specifically kids like printing. It never ceases to be cool - they get all into it, geek out, and discover a new art."

LINK: Wayzgoose Tacoma Sunday, April 22 schedule


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