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Tacoma Wayzgoose

15th annual letterpress and book arts festival at King’s Books

Wayzgoose volunteers placing paper over hand-carved, hand-inked linoleum blocks measuring 3 ft. x 3 ft. in preparation for creating steam-rolled prints. Photo courtesy of King’s Books and Tacoma Wayzgoose

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"Fifteen years ago, most people in Tacoma didn't know what letterpress was. I used to joke that they thought the process was as simple as pressing a button until things fell out (of the press), and then we'd have a print! Nowadays, there's an impressive public knowledge in Tacoma about letterpress and book arts. The layperson here has a high-level of knowledge about letterpress arts."

Did you hear that, Tacoma? sweet pea Flaherty, owner of King's Books and organizer of Tacoma Wayzgoose, just complimented us city dwellers on our ability to learn and nourish letterpress arts. At least we think it was a compliment ...

Either way, Tacoma Wayzgoose, an annual book arts and letterpress printing festival held at King's Books, is back for its 15th year in a row. The festival takes place April 27-28 and features steamroller printing on hand-carved and hand-inked blocks, hands-on demonstrations by regional presses, and 30 vendors and exhibitors hawking their creative wares.

"This year, we have 11 new vendors and three new steamroller printers," said Flaherty, who's owned King's Books for eight-and-a-half years. "We're always trying to look for new talent and new artforms. We stay focused on letterpress, but we're open to expanding our notions about book arts. It's exciting to see what new people bring to the table every year."

This year's exhibitors include Anagram Press, Beautiful Angle, Letra Chueca Press, Puget Sound Book Artists, Pope Press, Shroom Brothers, Springtide Press, Rx Press and Yoshiko Yamamoto, among others. Over the course of the festival weekend each year, close to 1,800 people attend Wayzgoose. That's an average of 900 people per day, all in support of letterpress and book arts.

"My favorite thing about the festival is seeing families interact with it (printmaking). Seeing youth -- especially young children -- participate in printing and struck by the wonder of it -- is really what Wayzgoose is all about for me," said Flaherty. "It's about seeing youth and wondering how the experience of seeing working artists doing a craft -- one they (youth) don't understand -- will affect them in the future. By the time they leave the festival, they have more understanding, and that's exciting. Seeing kids interact with and participate in art is great."

In addition to steamrolling demonstrations in the parking lot next to King's Books, and exhibitors lining the aisles inside, Wayzgoose will also feature live screen-printing by the Shroom Brothers. And, unbeknownst to most festival attendees, Wayzgoose falls on the same weekend as Independent Bookstore Day -- a nationwide celebration of independent bookstores and the roles they play in their respective communities. This year's Independent Bookstore Day is Saturday, April 27.

"Independent Bookstore Day is always held on the last weekend of April," said Flaherty. "Sometimes, when people come to the bookstore that weekend, they're unaware that Independent Bookstore Day is happening, and some don't know Wayzgoose is happening. So, it's fun to see them sort of stumble upon a huge letterpress festival or realize that King's Books has a ton of exclusive merchandise for Indie Bookstore Day."

This year's prized Independent Bookstore Day swag includes a signed and redesigned edition of Women Talking by Miriam Toews, We Should All Be Feminists canvas pouches featuring quotes from Chimamanda Ngozo Adichie; On The Come Up journals with an author letter by Angie Thomas; limited edition wooden pins featuring James Baldwin, Neil Gaiman, and Toni Morrison; and highly-prized, limited-edition vinyl records featuring conversations with Charles Bukowski. Patrons should note that these items can only be acquired in-store, in-person April 27.

TACOMA WAYZGOOSE, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, April 27-28, King's Books, 218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, free, 253.272.8801,

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